Students called Professor Susan Moore Johnson — this year’s recipient of the Morningstar Family Teaching Award — “indisputably great,” “an exemplar of teaching, advising, and humanity,” and a mentor willing to always put aside time to help a student “stuck in a quagmire.”
At the HGSE Convocation on Wednesday, May 23, Johnson was honored with the Morningstar Family Teaching Award presented annually to a faculty member for his or her generosity in providing time and support to students.
“The Morningstar Award is a generous tribute to all of us who teach here at HGSE and I’m truly honored to be this year’s recipient,” Johnson said. “Year after year, amazing students arrive on Appian Way, eager to learn, ready to work, and willing to take a risk. They expect their professors to do more than profess, and so we all learn and we all teach in a rich and exciting process of give and take. How wonderful to be reminded that what we do really matters to our students.”
The award includes a $5,000 prize and recognition on a plaque in the Gutman Library lobby. Johnson was nominated along with 36 other faculty members, with 241 students making nominations.
The Morningstar Family Teaching Award recipient was chosen using a three-stage process. In the spring, HGSE master’s and doctoral students submitted nominations for faculty members via an online poll. After reviewing all submissions, an advisory committee provided additional feedback on the nominees. Based on student testimonials and input from the student advisory committee, representatives from the dean’s office then selected the honoree.
Johnson studies and teaches about teacher policy, organizational change, and administrative practice. A former high-school teacher and administrator, she has a continuing research interest in the work of teachers and the reform of schools. Currently, Johnson and a group of advanced doctoral students are engaged in a multiyear research study, The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, that examines how best to recruit, support, and retain a strong teaching force in the next decade. The project, which is funded by several foundations, includes studies of hiring practices, alternative certification programs, new teachers' attitudes toward careers, and new teachers’ experiences with colleagues.
Current faculty members who have received the Morningstar Award include Lecturer Terry Tivnan, Senior Lecturers Joe Blatt and Kay Merseth, and Professors Paul Harris, Bridget Terry Long, Catherine Snow, John Willett, Richard Murnane, and Monica Higgins.