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Gary Huey and Jennifer Johnson, faculty members from the College of Arts, Sciences and Education, were named co-recipients of Ferris State University’s 2014 Distinguished Teacher Award.
Huey has been a Ferris faculty member since 1986 and has held the rank of professor, of History, since 1994. Johnson, who teaches Geography, came to Ferris as an assistant professor in 2006 and has held the rank of associate professor since 2009. As recipients of the award, Huey and Johnson were selected based on a lengthy process of extensive evaluation that includes classroom visits, student input, evaluation of semifinalist essays and curriculum vitae, and interviews with finalists. That thorough process is part of what makes the award special to faculty.
“What makes this award so meaningful is that it comes from your colleagues and your students – the people who know you best,” Huey said. “The honor becomes even greater when you consider how many excellent professors we have at Ferris. I am especially happy to be sharing this distinction with Jennifer Johnson. She is a wonderful teacher.” Johnson echoed Huey’s sentiments as she pondered the reality that her name will be added to a list of some of Ferris’ greatest faculty members.
“First, I’d like to say how absolutely delighted, honored and humbled I am to share it with Gary Huey,” Johnson said. “I absolutely wanted him to win the award because I cannot think of anyone who deserves it more. Johnson earned her Bachelor of Arts from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis. and her Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy from Arizona State University.
“As for me, personally, my students are absolutely the center of my universe and are the very best part of my job, as I tell them every single semester,” she said. “To be recognized in this way means that I am using the gifts I’ve been given and the skills I have worked to develop in a way that makes them successful. That’s really what any good teacher wants.” Johnson works to “grow and change to meet the needs of my students in creative and engaging ways.”
“This award gives me an opportunity to go back to my own faculty and mentors and validate the time and devotion that they have shown to me over the years, and to let them know that their commitment to me has made me better than I would ever have been on my own,” she said.
Huey earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. He went on to earn a second master’s degree from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. from Washington State University. As he pondered so many of the people who helped him become who he is, Huey noted that his father, Berwyn Huey, inspired him to become a teacher, and that his doctoral advisor, LeRoy Ashby, showed him how to teach. Huey also expressed appreciation for his students who never cease to amaze him and challenge him to do his best. Said Huey, “They make the hard work worthwhile.”
The selections of Huey and Johnson to share the honor was made by Robert Friar, chair of the Distinguished Teacher Award Committee. Johnson appreciates the importance of her role, as a faculty member, in the development and growth of the students she teaches.
“It was a joy to me, as a student, to develop mentoring relationships with the faculty I encountered through the course of three degrees, and it is an even bigger joy to now develop those with students of my own,” Johnson said. “I truly stand on the shoulders of giants, both in those who have taught me and in those who teach alongside me.”