Jan Youga Named Distinguished Teacher of the Year
Jan Youga, professor of English, has been named the Distinguished Teacher of the Year for 2003. She teaches an advanced seminar in classical rhetorical theory as well as English 101, which the graduating class of 2003 voted the most valuable general education course at Keene State.
Professor Youga earned her associate's degree at Thorton Community College, her bachelor's degree at Northern Illinois University, and her master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Iowa. She came to KSC in 1992. Colleagues and students describe Professor Youga as a warm but challenging professor, a tireless advisor, and a visionary educator. Known as the heart of the writing program, she has served on the Writing Task Force and as director of writing and has co-authored, with Phyllis Benay, the KSC Guide to Writing. A noted authority on writing pedagogy, Dr. Youga is the co-author of the book Readings Are Writings: A Guide to Reading and Writing Well, published by Prentice Hall.
Between classes and advising appointments, Professor Youga recently took a moment to finish a few sentences--about herself.
Courses you teach: Essay writing, women's writing, writing for teachers, classical rhetoric, and secondary English methods, and I supervise student teachers.
On the advising life: I love advising and am distressed when students try to advise themselves instead of coming in for help. They're always amazed at the things they can learn from a good conversation about course offerings and future planning.
The one thing you most want students to learn: That the way in which they treat each other is more important than any piece of academic knowledge they will ever acquire.
Your most recent publication: "Part of a Noble and Dying Breed," an essay on violence in the schools. The English Journal
Favorite quote: The "learning process comes easiest to those of us who teach who also believe that there is an aspect of our vocation that is sacred; who believe that our work is not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students." -- bell hooks
Most memorable comment you've heard a student make about writing: "I never thought writing could really be about who I was and exactly what I thought. But that is what [Jan] wanted. She wanted the truth about me. My thoughts were important. I was important. And this writing business had everything to do with me."
Aspect of writing that gives students the most trouble: I hate to say this, but it's grammar.
Number of student papers you've read: I don't want to think about that!
What you'll do to make the Greeks and Romans a good sell: Well, Plato is great drama and we'll act him out. And Quintilian is one of the best teachers who ever lived, and all of us can remember favorite teachers who cared about us in the way that Quintilian cared about his students.
Favorite magazine: Early American Life because I own a 1791 house.
When you're not thinking about work, you might be thinking about: Music!
Why students say you're challenging: Because I hold them accountable and have very high standards. And I don't allow any whining about the work.
You know a student's got it when: I am transported by what he or she writes. When I set down the green pen I use to make comments and just read for pleasure. And in teaching, I know students have moved from being students to being teachers when they lose their self-consciousness and realize that teaching is not about them but about their students.
Your outgoing voicemail message: "This is Jan. Please let me know what I can do for you."