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Assistant Professor Jenn Ayscue Receives 2021-22 Outstanding Teacher Award

NC State College of Education Assistant Professor Jenn Ayscue, Ph.D.

From the time she was young, NC State College of Education Assistant Professor Jenn Ayscue wanted to pursue a career in education.

She often played school with her sister as a child and felt the influence of many incredible teachers throughout her life before becoming an elementary school teacher herself and ultimately joining the College of Education faculty.

Now, her impact as an educator is being recognized with NC State’s 2021-22 Outstanding Teacher Award, which recognizes creative and innovative teaching and learning practices. Faculty must be nominated for the award by both peers and students. 

“I am honored and humbled to be selected for this award. I learn so much from my students and am consistently inspired by their experiences, knowledge, leadership and passion for educational equity and justice,” Ayscue said. “I feel fortunate to be part of a college where my colleagues and I collaborate and share ideas to strengthen our teaching practices. To be recognized for my teaching by my students and colleagues, whom I respect deeply, means so much to me.” 

Through her work as a K-12 teacher, Ayscue witnessed inequities and segregation in the education system and was inspired to pursue a Ph.D. and continue her work in education by researching desegregation and integration in schools. 

She also approaches her teaching in a way that strives to develop an inclusive community that honors and centers the diversity of students’ backgrounds and experiences. 

“I hope my students develop the knowledge and skills they need to think critically and to address what they perceive to be the most pressing problems in education through their scholarship and professional practice,” she said. 

One of Ayscue’s favorite moments as an educator in the College of Education was getting the opportunity to develop a course that focused on education and civil rights. She first taught this course during the Spring 2021 semester, during a time when she said there seemed to be major national events – including the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the presidential inauguration and the conclusion of the Derek Chauvin trial – occurring on an almost weekly basis.  

“Having the opportunity to facilitate discussions and learning activities and connect our course materials to the events unfolding around us was a profound experience for me,” Ayscue said. 

The experience delivered through the course was mentioned by both students who nominated Ayscue for the Outstanding Teacher Award. Ayscue said her favorite moment of the class occurs at the end of every semester, when she asks students to share reflections about how to move forward with addressing education and civil rights in North Carolina.

“It is powerful to hear the knowledge and vision our students have for creating greater justice and equity in our state,” she said. 

Another teaching experience Ayscue has valued is the opportunity to teach multiple sections of the Qualitative Research Methods in Education course, which brings together students from multiple College of Education programs, as well as some students from other colleges on NC State’s campus. 

“Having students with such diverse interests and background experiences enriches the learning environment,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy watching students as they begin or continue on their research journeys and learn about qualitative approaches to exploring the topics they care about deeply.”