To the students who nominated Associate Professor Jal Mehta – this year’s recipient of the Morningstar Family Teaching Award – he is someone who “walks his talk,” having provided a powerful and deep learning experience for his students.
“[Jal] is who I cite for how I have found meaning, mentorship, and engagement in my studies,” wrote one student, who pointed to the instructor’s “pitch-perfect pedagogy” and ongoing support and advice.
Students called Mehta passionate, caring, generous, and “the epitome of what an HGSE professor and lifelong learner should be.”
At the HGSE Convocation on Wednesday, May 28, Mehta 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. “I am deeply honored to have been selected for the Morningstar Award. It is particularly special because of how many great teachers there are at HGSE,” Mehta said. “Teaching our students has long been the best and most rewarding part of my job. I feel so lucky to have had the privilege to learn from them, to work through ideas together, and to prepare them to change the world. I'm glad they didn't hold against me the amount of reading I assigned!”
The award includes a $5,000 prize and recognition on a plaque hung on campus. Mehta was nominated along with 46 other faculty members, with 217 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.
Upon learning he had been chosen for this award, Mehta wished to express his gratitude to those who have affected his past and continued learning. “I want to thank my alma mater, the Park School, which gave me my first exposure to good education, and my undergraduate concentration in Social Studies, which modeled the power of broad-ranging intellectual investigation. I am also particularly indebted to those I have taught with, past and present,” he said. “This year’s Morningstar award is in large part due to the effort, skill, and dedication of the teaching teams I was a part of. I would like to thank and recognize the stellar work of [HGSE colleagues] Elizabeth City, Sarah Fine, Kelly Kovacic, Rebecca Miller, Ventura Rodriguez, Zoe Stemm-Calderon, and Matthew Tallon.”
Mehta’s research focuses on what it would take to create high quality schooling at scale and the professionalization of teaching. His most recent book, The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling, explores the last century of education reform in the United States and discusses why certain reform efforts — including No Child Left Behind — have been less than successful.
Currently, he is working on two projects: The Chastened Dream, a history of the effort to link social science with social policy to achieve social progress; and In Search of Deeper Learning, a contemporary study of schools, systems, and nations that are seeking to produce ambitious instruction.
Last month Mehta received the American Education Research Association’s Emerging Scholar Award by the Educational Change SIG of AERA. This award is presented to an individual or individuals who, within the first eight years of the postdoctorate career as an educational scholar, have demonstrated a strong record of original and significant scholarship related to educational change.
Current faculty members who have received the Morningstar Award include Professor Tina Grotzer, Lecturer Terry Tivnan, Senior Lecturers Kay Merseth and Joe Blatt, and Professors Bridget Terry Long, Catherine Snow, John Willett, Richard Murnane, Paul Harris, and Monica Higgins.