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Learning to a Greater Degree Award graphic
Learning to a Greater Degree graphic

Winners of the Learning to a Greater Degree Award

Learning to a Greater Degree Award Winner Combines Passions to Change Lives

A future teacher, Samantha Behlman (center) received the Learning to a Greater Degree Award for her work to end bullying in schools.

As a future middle school teacher, Samantha Behlman is dedicated to raise awareness about bullying prevention and practice effective intervention methods. At the November 2013 Board of Governors meeting, Behlman was awarded the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.

Behlman's sister suffered from bullying in school. Because of this personal experience, she wanted to prevent bullying and promote positive school environments in her future work setting.

"It is my hope that through prevention, education and intervention we can end bullying, so no one has to experience what my sister did, at any age in their lives," says Behlman.

Behlman created two bullying prevention models, which will give future educators a resource to encourage intervention in a bullying situation.

Behlman tackles the issue at the elementary through college levels. Recently, she taught 75 middle school students the skills to intervene in safe and effective ways when dealing with a bully. At the college intervention level, she founded a student group called Encouraging Positive Interventions on Campus, which is known as the EPIC Educators.

By using her personal passion for bully prevention and incorporating it into her professional life, Behlman is learning to a greater degree.

Powerful Approach to Service Learning Recognized with Learning to a Greater Degree Award

Professor Wendy Geiger (center) received the Learning to a Greater Degree Award for her high-impact, service-oriented approach to teaching.

Wendy Geiger believes she has one of the best jobs in the world — being a professor in the Department of Communication and Sociology at UCM. This semester, Geiger was recognized for her impactful approach to teaching with the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.

"I just really feel honored to be one of the faces of this award," says Geiger, who was recognized at the November 2013 Board of Governors meeting.

In the two nominations Geiger received for the award, her nominators enumerated the many ways she goes above and beyond for students, including her participation in The Vagina Monologues, producing a cross-disciplinary project with the Department of Theatre and Dance and her contemporary communication class, and running the Oxfam Hunger Banquet for the past six years with her persuasion class.

"I was looking for a high-impact, service-learning project," says Geiger. "The Oxfam Hunger Banquet is a microcosm of how the world eats. The students' role is to persuade people to come and persuade people that hunger is an issue."

This past year, Geiger partnered with Sodexo to increase the fundraising she and her students were able to do for Oxfam, resulting in nearly $10,000 donated to fight hunger locally and nationally.

By engaging in collaborative service-learning projects, Geiger’s students experience learning to a greater degree.

Student Leader Recognized with Learning to a Greater Degree Award

Daniel Bender's leadership and engagement earned him the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.

In his second semester at UCM, senior Daniel Bender learned that some projects stretch beyond the classroom and affect more people than the students in the course.

Last fall, the Management of Organizations class put on a dance and raised more than $1,000 for a local charity, Music in Motion. The event was held for local men and women with Down syndrome and UCM students.

"The dynamic of the event was unexpectedly incredible," Bender says. He served as the project manager for the class.

On Friday, Bender was recognized for his embodiment of UCM's engaged learning and culture of service as the student recipient of the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.

"He was a leader and motivator in a class project where he had very little power base," professor Mary McCord wrote in her nomination. "Without formal authority, Daniel moved the class toward their goal and the event was a success."

About 200 people attended the event; half of them were UCM students who paid $5 to attend. Additionally, the class sold bracelets to benefit the local group.

"This project definitely had an impact on me and others because it was such a unique concept of the classroom," Bender says. "We were able to touch and see the impact."

By being a student leader in a class project to benefit a local charity, Bender is learning to a greater degree.

Nordyke Honored by Learning to a Greater Degree Award

Alan Nordyke goes above and beyond, which earned him the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.

Alan Nordyke, director of residence and Greek life, goes above and beyond the call of duty outlined in his job description.

In addition to his assigned duties at work, Nordyke is the coordinator of the University of Central Missouri's Special Housing Interest Programs, is a member of the Student Success Committee, recruits graduate assistants for several departments and teaches on campus. "Being a part of professional organizations is great, I've enjoyed serving my field in that way," Nordyke says.

He is also established in the Warrensburg community as an active member within the local school district and his church.

Patrick Bradley, director of housing and dining services, nominated Nordyke, saying, "He performs his duties because he truly cares about students succeeding after they leave UCM, not for the personal accolades."

Nordyke has worked at UCM for more than 25 years. He came to UCM as he was looking for his first job and was able to grow within the university throughout the years.

Nordyke says, "I am very fortunate that I have had the opportunity to help others through my work here. I believe in what we're doing at the university, and that makes it easy to do my job."

By believing in students and providing his time and talent to UCM, Nordyke exemplifies learning to a greater degree.

First Student Presented with the Learning to a Greater Degree Award

President of the UCM Board of Governors "Bunky Wright" (left) and UCM President Chuck Ambrose (right) present Lacy Stephens (center) with the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.

Lacy Stephens has been selected as the University of Central Missouri's first Learning to a Greater Degree student award recipient for her involvement in engaged learning and service throughout the Kansas City area.

Stephens, a senior nutrition and dietetics major, has a very busy schedule. Between classes and preparing for graduation, she finds time to organize events for the Student Dietetics Association as its current secretary.

"This semester has been a little stressful, but receiving this award reminded me of the bigger picture," Stephens says. "I was very flattered and surprised!"

Some of the volunteer organizations Stephens is involved in include Cultivate Kansas City, Serve Kansas City and Society of St. Andrew West. She received the 2011 Volunteer of the Year award for her work with "Eating from the Garden" through Cultivate Kansas City. Although Stephens is very passionate about all of her volunteering endeavors, she is especially fond of this program.

In her work with "Eating from the Garden," Stephens had the privilege to work with fourth graders in an urban youth center. She recalls watching them "pull things straight from the garden and seeing them love their vegetables," as one of the most memorable moments in all of her volunteer work.

UCM's reasons to believe are exemplified through Stephens' positive outlook and drive to teach others about sustainability and nutrition in urban areas.

"Learning to a greater degree means stepping outside of the classroom and figuring out how you can take the pieces you are learning and use them in the real world," Stephens says.

Do you know someone who demonstrates UCM's reasons to believe? Nominate them to be the next Learning to a Greater Degree Award recipient.

Stockton Honored with Learning to a Greater Degree Award

Susan Stockton's passion and engagement earned her the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.

The nomination for UCM's first faculty recipient of the Learning to a Greater Degree Award opened with the statement, "Susan Stockton exudes a genuineness that motivates her to provide students with experiences that go beyond the classroom."

When talking to Stockton, a health education instructor and two-time UCM alumna, her genuineness is immediately apparent, as is her passion for teaching.

One of the many notable ways that Stockton helps to provide her students with engaged learning opportunities is by giving them access to a software program she obtained through an in-house grant. This program allows students to monitor their heart rate and understand how it affects their health, resiliency, creativity and problem-solving abilities.

"Because their world to me is so exuberant with color and action, the more you can engage the whole person, the more they will remember," Stockton says.

Stockton also gets students involved beyond health education, taking advantage of the "creative trust" of UCM faculty and staff who bring speakers and events to campus on a regular basis.

This semester, she had the American Democracy Project group come into her classes to help register students to vote, and for a service-learning experience, she took her students to help clean up Warrensburg's Blind Boone Park.

Stockton's passion and involvement in and outside the classroom demonstrates what learning to a greater degree means.