By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Dr. Donna Albrecht, professor of education in the ENL program and director of the New Neighbors Center, has received the Faculty Innovator of the Year Award from the Institute for Learning and Teaching Excellence (ILTE).
Albrecht topped the field of eight nominees from across the academic disciplines, drawing recognition for her innovative classroom techniques and novel modes of engaging with the community.
In her teaching, Albrecht employs high impact practices, such as a student-centered classroom, nonstop interaction, project-based learning, student research and performance assessments.
An early adopter of hybrid courses and Zoom, Albrecht combines undergraduate and graduate sections, which makes for a more efficient use of faculty, facilitates collaboration between pre-service and in-service teachers, and lets her schedule classes in the evening to accommodate grad students and adjunct faculty.
As director of the ENL program, Albrecht has revamped the curriculum, aligning it with state and national professional standards as well as local needs, among other innovations. She has also reinvigorated the New Neighbors Center, expanding vital connections in the community, while leveraging her leading role in state initiatives like the Indiana Language Roadmap, Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (INTESOL) and others to benefit the educational community she serves.
Sensitized to poverty and injustice while growing up in Egypt, Albrecht is dedicated to education as a tool for economic development, self-determination and social advancement.
“I came to believe that education is the highest form of development because it doesn’t impose solutions, but provides resources and critical thinking for people to be able to determine their own ways towards a brighter future,” Albrecht said.
In presenting the award, Dr. Kelly Ryan, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, praised Albrecht’s achievements as exemplifying the purpose of the prize.
“The award has become a prized goal for faculty members seeking to earn recognition for their efforts to improve their teaching performance,” Ryan said. “At the same time, the award has begun to reshape the culture around teaching and learning, establishing classroom innovation as a mindset we would like to encourage in our peers and ourselves.”
For Albrecht, as for all award nominees, that mindset sees teaching challenges as opportunities, and the classroom as a living laboratory for a brighter future.
“Success in the 21st century requires the ability to think globally, critically, creatively and with divergence,” Albrecht said. “Pre-service and in-service educators, as well as those in higher education, need the opportunity to be exposed to different ways of thinking and to experience cultures outside of their norm.”