MARQUETTE - Three Northern Michigan University faculty members will receive Excellence in Teaching Awards. They are: Earl Kaurala of education; Yvonne Lee of technology and occupational sciences; and Robert Myers of mathematics and computer science.

The university's Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee developed the internal recognition program. It was designed to replace the awards sponsored by the Michigan Association of Governing Boards, which were discontinued. Recipients will receive a $1,000 cash award and plaque at NMU's fall convocation.

Kaurala joined Northern's faculty in 1994 with a focus on educational administration. For the past seven years, he has also worked with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. His duties have included acting as a consultant to NCA-accredited Upper Peninsula schools, providing workshops in school accreditation and improvement processes and serving as a liaison between the U.P. schools and the NCA office in Ann Arbor.

"I'm absolutely floored; this is a great honor," Kaurala said. "Of course, my job is made much easier by the fact that I have excellent colleagues and wonderful students."

He previously spent 26 years with the Houghton school district, progressing from English teacher and department head to high school principal. Kaurala also taught at J.A. Doelle High School and at Portage Lake-Range Area Community Schools. He holds a bachelor's degree from Wayne State University, two master's degrees from NMU and an educational doctorate from Western Michigan University.

Lee is in her 8th year at Northern. She returned to her alma mater after starting a hospitality management program at the College of the Ozarks near Branson, Mo. She had accumulated many years experience in the hotel and restaurant industries, at one time doing employee training for the Hilton Corporation. Lee received both a bachelor's and master's degree in education from NMU. She was a high school teacher in the Green Bay area for a brief time before deciding it wasn't the right profession for her. She received a certificate in vocational education from the University of Minnesota and taught for a semester at a community college before the Branson opportunity surfaced.

"I love teaching at the college level," Lee said. "I also enjoy everything that goes along with it - mentoring and advising. Several of my former students are successful managers in the hospitality industry. It's rewarding to see that happen."

Myers joined the NMU mathematics faculty in 1969. He received his bachelor's degree from Illinois State Normal University and his master's and educational doctorate from Harvard University. Myers teaches calculus, geometry and statistics.

"I have an avid interest in both the subject matter and students and I strive to maintain high standards," he said. "But I really don't deserve this award more than anyone else in the department. Everyone here takes teaching very seriously."

Myers served four years in the U.S. Air Force before embarking on a career in education. He was a math teacher and department head at the International School in lbadan, Nigeria from 1963-65. He also was a math coordinator for Peace Corps training programs in Boston and a master teacher at Harvard-Newton Summer School.

Nomination criteria for the Excellence in Teaching Awards include a sustained record of high achievement in teaching evidenced by positive peer observation; high student qualitative and quantitative evaluations; thorough knowledge of subject matter; clarity, organization and consistency in subject presentation and assessment; enthusiasm for teaching and learning; creation of a safe and open learning environment; and experimentation with teaching and learning paradigms.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director