Associate Professor and Interpreter Adds Outstanding Teaching Award to Accomplishments

Early experiences of Jamie McCartney, Ph.D., and her being introduced to the Deaf Community as a teen turned her into a passionate and vibrant professor at Kent State University.  

McCartney, associate professor in the School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences and the Program Coordinator for the American Sign Language / English Interpreting program, was rewarded with a 2021 Outstanding Teaching Award (OTA) this year for her compassion and commitment to helping students succeed.

After having been nominated for this prestigious honor three previous times, McCartney could not believe she won.
Jamie McCartney

“I was teaching a class and the Dean, Melissa Dyer and a photographer burst in my classroom with a huge sign and beautiful flowers,” McCartney said. “They apologized for the interruption then told my class their professor was nominated and is a winning recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award. It felt like I was truly dreaming.”
Every year, three Kent State faculty members are nominated and honored with awards for their outstanding achievements in teaching. The OTA is the highest teaching award accorded to non-tenure track and part-time faculty at Kent State. The award parallels the Distinguished Teaching Awards sponsored by the Kent Alumni Association.
Growing up, McCartney taught her friends and family a wide variety of skills including how to play piano, how to crochet, how to sign and grammar studies. In return, she received comments from those she taught, expressing how they finally understood what they were learning.
“By receiving positive comments like that, it really got me thinking ‘I should probably do this as a career.’” McCartney said. “It was the next logical step with my profession at the time and is one of the reasons that pushed me in that direction to teach sign language.”
As a 14-year-old, McCartney worked at an ice cream stand where a daily customer would come up to the window and order a large chocolate cone. She said every day, he would slide a paper in the window without speaking and McCartney never knew why until her boss told her the customer was Deaf.
She went to the library that day and learned how to sign “May I help you?” The next day when the man came to the window, McCartney took the paper and ripped it up. She said the man looked at her very confused, and then she signed “May I help you?” He left the window and brought back four people. McCartney signed again. They cheered and clapped for her, some with tears streaming down their faces.
McCartney explained how that experience changed her life and is another reason why she continued to pursue a profession in teaching sign language interpreting.
Teaching at Kent State throughout the pandemic, McCartney said her experience has been challenging. She is constantly learning and working to improve for the future and thanks the Deaf Community for their encouragement and assistance throughout the years.
Aside from being a professor, McCartney is also an interpreter, a career with its own highlights. She had the opportunity to interpret for Billy Graham in 1993 in front of thousands of people and has also interpreted to mothers when their babies were being born, which she said was a life-changing experience.

Some of McCartney’s proudest moments are when her former students reach back out to her after graduation, informing her about the jobs they landed. McCartney’s Outstanding Teaching Award is hanging in her office, reminding her of all she has accomplished.
Nominations for Outstanding Teaching Awards can be made at
To view other Outstanding Teaching Award recipients, visit

POSTED: Friday, January 21, 2022 - 9:22am
UPDATED: Friday, January 21, 2022 - 3:46pm
Cassondra Siaus