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History professor receives President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching

Faculty Dec 16, 2021
a woman poses for a picture
a woman poses for a picture

KOKOMO, Ind. – An Indiana University Kokomo history professor is among seven IU faculty members recognized with 2022 Distinguished Teaching and Service awards.

Sarah Heath, associate professor of history, was one of two recipients of the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, which recognizes faculty who represent excellence in teaching across the university’s campuses, schools, and departments.

Heath, who joined the faculty in 2008, said she is “overwhelmed” by the honor.

“It’s really stunning to see that other people think highly of the contributions I’ve made,” she said. “Just to be selected by our campus for a Trustees Teaching Award was already a monumental achievement. To be recognized across the IU system is really special.”

Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke congratulated Heath on the award.

“Dr. Heath cares deeply about our students’ success and has worked throughout her career not only to become an exceptional teacher herself, but to help her colleagues grow and develop their teaching as well,” she said. “She’s truly deserving of this honor.”

IU’s emphasis on excellent teaching, not just research, was what attracted Heath to IU Kokomo.

She’s enjoyed collaborating with colleagues to develop new classes, and to contribute to existing classes outside of history. Some of these included discussing Irish migration in an Irish literature course and presenting to an education class about her interview of Linda Brown, the Black schoolgirl at the center of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that rejected racial segregation in American schools. Heath also provided historical content for a World War II literature class and co-led a trip to Europe to visit significant World War II sites.

In addition, Heath oversees internships for history students, participates in the campus diversity committee, and mentors both students and faculty members. She has performed 40 peer reviews of colleagues’ teaching, both in person and online, and has attained Peer Reviewer certification from Quality Matters.

“Colleagues say they value the detailed, practical feedback that I offer,” she said, adding that while performing the reviews takes a great deal of time, they support IU Kokomo’s mission of high-quality teaching.

Heath noted that her teaching career almost didn’t happen, as both her parents were in the education field, and they worked “too many hours and they never made as much money as I felt they could.”

The example of her own history professors changed her mind, along with experiences tutoring other student athletes and participating in a mentoring program at the local YMCA.

“The more I started taking classes, the history faculty really pressed me to think critically about material, to understand why people behave the way they behave,” Heath said. “They were really inspiring to me. The tutorials and information connected, and I began to think, ‘If I can help people learn or perform effectively, maybe this is a career for me.’”

The President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching has been presented annually since it was established in 1974.

“I continue to be inspired by the dedication and excellence of our faculty across Indiana University,” IU President Pamela Whitten said. “Throughout our campuses, these winners exemplify and further IU’s core mission of putting students first and contributing to the development of communities across Indiana.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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