"The thing about my teaching is, when I am in the classroom with my students, I am really in there with them," says Emily Bernard, associate professor of English, and recipient of a Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award. Bernard's close colleague in the department, associate professor Lisa Schnell, says she's struck by Bernard's accessibility and her mindfulness of each of her students.
"If I had to use a watchword for her classroom," she says, "it's 'connections.' " Bernard forges a community between students, connects them to the material and each other, noting that it's otherwise rare to hear students refer to their classmates by name, building on each other's ideas.
Megan Kennedy, a junior in Bernard's African American Women's Writing course agrees: "Everyone talks. You want to engage in a conversation with her and everyone else."
It is impossible to portray Bernard as a teacher without including her writing. "Teaching the N-Word" was published in "The Best American Essays 2006." A new essay, "Figurines," will appear in "The Best of Creative Non-Fiction, Vol. 2."
"How they will use it is a mystery at this point," Bernard says. "But it's something that will open up a world for them or a question they want to keep pursuing or changes the way they think and undermines something they were sure about, that explodes that and turns it into good questions. I think that a lot about good teaching. It's understanding that the learning doesn't just happen on the surface. It can happen later."