English’s Rebecca Lorimer Leonard Receives 2022-23 Distinguished Teaching Award
Rebecca Lorimer Leonard, associate professor of English, has been named one of the 2022-23 winners of the Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) by the Center for Teaching and Learning. This award honors exemplary teaching at the highest institutional level.
Lorimer Leonard is a past recipient of the College of Humanities & Fine Arts Outstanding Teacher Award and teaches courses on writing and literacy. In her teaching, she guides students to understand the social outcomes and possibilities of writing while honoring the linguistic diversity of writers in and outside of the classroom.
“I am deeply gratified to receive this recognition for my teaching, and I’m especially grateful for the opportunity to amplify the critically engaged teaching and learning that can happen in courses about writing,” Lorimer Leonard says.
She incorporates community-engaged writing projects into her courses, during which students work with a community partner, the International Language Institute of Massachusetts, to plan and facilitate language or literacy learning. In these settings, students are challenged to see how the theories they learn in class connect to their experiences working with community writers.
One student shared that “engaging in complex discussion with peers about the text and our service learning experiences shifted the traditional role of a lecture hall into a dynamic space that encouraged new theories and strategies.”
During her time as director of the Writing Program, Lorimer Leonard mentored graduate students who teach across disciplines. One former trainee noted that Lorimer Leonard’s work “embodies how teachers are always themselves students,” and that she facilitated spaces for sharing and developing innovative pedagogical practices for teaching writing across UMass.
Since 1961, the University of Massachusetts has presented the Distinguished Teaching Award to instructors who demonstrate exemplary teaching at the highest institutional level. This highly competitive and prestigious campus-wide honor is the only student-initiated award on campus.