Teaching Excellence Awardees announced for 2020-21 academic year

Faculty members Kari Erickson and Jennifer Kontny have received the 2020-21 Teaching Excellence Awards for Mount Mary.

Kari Erickson, a part-time member of the counseling department, started her journey at Mount Mary 10 years ago when she started a post-master's certificate in school counseling. Now, she is starting her eighth year teaching masters-level core mental health counseling and school counseling courses.

Described as change maker who makes a positive impact on the world around her by students and colleagues, Erickson is recognized for the difference she makes in the Mount Mary community and her willingness to go the extra mile.

During the Safer at Home order last spring, she made herself even more available. One student’s nomination form captured the essence of many nominations. “When we went to online learning, she was always willing to do extra Zoom calls if you had questions, and she always responded to emails in a timely manner,” one student said.

Erickson is a member of the American School Counselor Association, Wisconsin Counseling Association and Wisconsin School Counseling Association. Jennifer Kontny, full-time faculty member in the English department, received the Teaching Excellence award after having been nominated every year since she started teaching at Mount Mary in 2017.

Known for her energy, humor and spirit, Kontny is an inspiration to both her colleagues and students. Kontny’s pedagogical approaches help students feel heard and validated.

“The class was mainly women of color and she validated our experiences as women of color,” one nominator wrote.

“She would allow us to have a say/input on due dates, policies and lesson planning, which truly made us feel heard,” another student said.

Kontny co-developed a new review process with an interdisciplinary team at Mount Mary that included faculty working alongside the registrar and admissions teams. This process is now used in placing admitted students in the appropriate English class.

In 2019, Kontny presented her research on this Tri-Benchmark method of placement for first-year writing classes at the 2019 Conference on College Composition and Communication in Louisville, Kent.

Kontny is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English, Conference on College Composition and Communication and American Associations for Applied Linguistics. She is currently researching how identity politics shape writing placement practices. The Teaching Excellence award is presented to those recognized for creative teaching, up-to-date knowledge in their field, and an honest interest in building their students, both morally and intellectually.