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Ridgewater instructor from Willmar, Minn., honored as a top educator by MnSCU

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Shawn Mueske, a biology instructor at Ridgewater College, was honored this week with an Educator of the Year award from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees.

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Four faculty members at MnSCU institutions were chosen for the honor.

The Educator of the Year award is part of the MnSCU Board of Trustees Excellence in Teaching award program, which recognizes professional achievement and encourages the ongoing pursuit of excellence. This is the sixth year of the awards.

Honorees were selected from among 37 faculty members named Outstanding Educators by their presidents and based on nominations by students, faculty peers and staff. Evaluation criteria included teaching strategies and materials; content expertise; service to students, the profession, the institution and the system; and assessment of student learning and performance.

Mueske was recognized for his range of teaching strategies and assignments, his approach to assessment, and his contributions to the college, the MnSCU system and the community. In the classroom he employs experiential learning, student projects, guest lectures, concept mapping and undergraduate research to help his students learn. He also uses a variety of instruments to obtain student reaction to his teaching and course activities.

An active collaborator with faculty at other colleges, Mueske also was a leader in the development of the system's "Science Express," a mobile science lab bus that travels across the mid-Minnesota region to engage middle- and high-school students in active science labs and learning.

Other winners of the MnSCU Educator of the Year award this year were Phyllis Ballata, instructor of English at Century College; Paul Carney, instructor of English at Minnesota State Community and Technical College; and Rod Millbrandt, instructor of physics at Rochester Community and Technical College.

Among the 37 Outstanding Educator honorees who were finalists for the award was Dr. Allen Balay, chairman of the Ridgewater College department of veterinary technology.

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