“Go to Gretchen” became the unofficial slogan of Prevention Science Practice Program this year, according to one student, and just one of the many reasons Lecturer Gretchen Brion-Meisels has earned the Morningstar Family Teaching Award.
Acknowledged for her respectful, inclusive, and engaging teaching style, Brion-Meisels was praised by many nominating students as someone who made them feel they were valued in class and under whom they were empowered to do their best work.
“In many ways, Gretchen Brion-Meisels defines my HGSE experience. She is literally bursting with enthusiasm for teaching, deep knowledge about her field, and brilliant ideas that have challenged me to think about my practice in new ways,” wrote one student. “Gretchen is so effective at what she does because she puts her students first and makes us feel like family. Her consistent guidance and loving support have been critical to my life-changing experience at HGSE. I am eternally grateful to call Gretchen my teacher, adviser, and friend.”
At the HGSE Convocation on Wednesday, May 26, Brion-Meisels 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 incredibly humbled by this honor. It is a privilege to collaborate with faculty and students who bring such diverse and critical perspectives to this work,” Brion-Meisels said. “Over the last eight years, HGSE students have been some of my most powerful teachers. I am deeply grateful for the ways that they have pushed my thinking and pedagogy. I am also continually moved by their passion for partnering with young people, to advocate together for more just and equitable learning spaces. Their commitment and love bring me much hope.”
The award includes a $5,000 prize and recognition on a plaque hung on campus. Brion-Meisels was nominated along with 48 other faculty members, with 235 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.
Brion-Meisels’ research focuses on holistic student support processes that build on the local knowledge of students and communities. She is interested in finding ways to incorporate students in the researching and reforming of student support systems and school climate. She has participated in research projects that examine student support systems and how students make meaning from their experiences in schools and communities. Brion-Meisels' work explores the intersections of bullying and discrimination in prevention research and practice. She teaches a variety of courses related to creating safe spaces, bullying and discrimination, and gender and sexuality.
Prior to arriving at HGSE as a doctoral student, Brion-Meisels taught middle school English and history for eight years in addition to fifth- and sixth-grade classes in math and science. Before graduating from HGSE in 2013, she served as a TEP adviser, a teaching fellow for multiple courses in the Prevention Science and Practice Program, and a teaching fellow in the Field Experience Program.
Current faculty members who have received the Morningstar Award include Associate Professor Jal Mehta, Lecturer Terry Tivnan, Senior Lecturers Kay Merseth and Joe Blatt, and Professors Deborah Jewell-Sherman, Tina Grotzer, Bridget Terry Long, Catherine Snow, John Willett, Richard Murnane, Paul Harris, and Monica Higgins.