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Department of English Language and Literature

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Leon Jackson and Hannah Rule Win Teaching Awards

The Department of English continues to honor its outstanding faculty as Teachers of the Year!

This fall the Department of English named two recipients of the Teacher of the Year Award. Associate Professor Leon Jackson and Associate Professor Hannah Rule received the honor for their accomplishments in 2021.

Jackson, a specialist in early national and antebellum American literature, as well as the history of the book and authorship, won accolades for his vast knowledge of wide-ranging subjects, the passion he brings to teaching, and the care he takes to make students feel safe and heard in the classroom. “The sense of community and belonging this class creates is absolutely unmatched,” said one student of English 439 (Fiction & Mental Health), which Jackson taught both in-person and online. Indeed, “community”—togetherness paired with mutual respect—is a recurring theme throughout his student evaluations. In one typical formulation, he is praised for “giving people space to open up if they want to,” while also “being respectful and understanding if they don’t.” He made a strong impression even in English 287, a survey of American literature that meets major and core requirements for hundreds of students across campus. “Dr. Jackson,” said a student of English 287, “genuinely cares about each of us, and designed this course with our well-being in mind.” For his part, Jackson says, “I learn from my students constantly, and I never cease to be inspired by their curiosity, vulnerability, acuity, and incredible decency.” While he is “extraordinarily honored to have received” the award, he is “still more honored by the bravery, attentiveness, and vision” of his students.

Rule, who specializes in rhetoric and composition and has particular interests in process-writing pedagogy and composition theory, was widely praised by students for deep knowledge of her subjects, the collaborative environments she creates in the classroom, and her ability to model the teaching of writing for future teachers of writing. “No matter how long the assignments were and no matter how many homework exercises we had,” said one member of English 468 (Digital Writing), “she always made sure to give personal feedback on our work that actually helped us move forward in the class.” Rule’s efforts in English 461 (Teaching of Writing) also garnered the highest praise. “I … could not imagine entering a career in education without taking” the course, says one student who spoke for many. “It opened my eyes to the importance of intentionality in teaching students to write and I am eager to employ many of the techniques we learned throughout this semester.” And in English 890 (Genre Theory, Research, and Pedagogy), she challenged graduate students with extremely difficult material while also fostering their self-confidence. “I work hard on my teaching; I really love it,” says Rule, who adds with characteristic collegiality that the “award is special not only because I love teaching and work hard on my craft, but also because I know that the English Department is chock full of incredible teachers offering terrific courses every semester.”

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.