By Jeff Murphy, March 25, 2021
WARRENSBURG, MO – A dedicated educator for over two decades and a self-proclaimed life-long learner, Julie Hentges, Ed.D., today is helping to ignite the same passion she shares for education with her undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Central Missouri College of Education. Her efforts to nurture and inspire student achievement has contributed to her receiving the 2021 Governor’s Excellence in Education Award to be presented during a meeting of the Board of Governors in April.
This awards program was established by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, and provides an annual opportunity to recognize college and university-level faculty members who have excelled in their profession. The Governor’s Excellence in Education Award considers criteria such as effective teaching, effective advising, innovative course design and delivery, service to the university community, and commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement.
Hentges is a professor of education who serves as program coordinator for the Masters of Science in Education (MSE) Elementary Education/Curriculum and Instruction program and faculty advisor to Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) education honor society at UCM. She was named recipient of the Governor’s Excellence in Education Award following a nomination process conducted by an award selection committee appointed by Phillip Bridgmon, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs.
“I believe an instructor identified as a Governor’s Award recipient is one who truly exemplifies characteristics of excellence in education. I am honored and humbled to be recognized in this way,” Hentges said in commenting on her award. “There are so many exemplary student-centered educators here at UCM. I feel blessed and privileged to be part of such an amazing group of individuals in the College of Education and across the campus of UCM, as a whole.”
Colleagues who supported Hentges’ nomination cited qualities such as her dedication to the field of education, implementation of high-quality teaching practices, professional scholarship and ongoing service among many reasons she deserves this recognition.
“Her desire to model effective teaching practices and produce great teacher candidates drives her efforts to consistently monitor student progress, implement innovative strategies, reexamine assessment tools, and participate in professional development events,” said Charlene Atkins, Ph.D., associate professor, educational foundations, in her letter of support.
Hentges’ peer and student evaluations demonstrate her effectiveness as a teacher. Colleagues have noted her focus on student development, being an excellent role model, and employment of engaging student-centered strategies. Her students have cited outstanding professional characteristics such as her ability to create valuable relationships with them while also instilling a wealth of knowledge, providing meaningful assignments, and valuable feedback, as instrumental to their success at UCM.
As one graduate student noted, “Dr. Hentges is one of the most helpful professors I’ve ever had. She was always available over a phone call or email to answer any questions. She kept us updated with reminders and notes through both Blackboard and email. She made each of the assignments something that fit in with our current teaching positions. She answered many of the questions I had in a timely manner. I am so lucky she is my advisor as well. I can tell she genuinely wants her students to succeed.”
Hentges has also been described as innovative in her approach to curriculum development, having worked to revise multiple courses in her area to bring them into alignment with new professional standards. While doing so, she has increased the rigor and expectations for her students to achieve excellence, which are important considerations for continued accreditation of programs.
“The theoretical and philosophical foundations for the framework of my course design and delivery follow an active learning, project-based approach - specifically, a Universal Design for Learning,” she noted. “This offers all learners the opportunity to be challenged and participate fully in stimulating learning events. The focus for educational achievement is to understand what teachers should know and be able to do to promote student success and engagement.”
Hentges has an outstanding record of service to UCM. This has included serving as chair of the College and the School Promotion and Tenure committees, and service as a member of the College Assembly Executive Committee.
Hentges works to create a community of learners, both inside and outside the classroom. Among such activities, in her role this academic year as student organization advisor to Kappa Delta Pi., she and her students initiated the “We are ALL in this together” T-shirt sales fundraiser to benefit the Campus Cupboard. She also has provided leadership for KDP’s Freshman Mentor Program, which helps acclimate students to their university major while connecting them with peers.
Throughout her service to UCM, which began more than a decade ago, Hentges has earned a number of special honors. Most recently, this has included the Learning to a Greater Degree Award, the College of Education’s Excellence in Teaching Award, Excellence in Education Award (Kappa Delta Pi), and the UCM Advisor of the Year Award.