Professor Fueled by Student Inspiration Wins Distinguished Teaching Award
Teaching is a privilege, according to Janice Lessman-Moss, professor in Kent State University’s School of Art’s Textile Program, whose enthusiasm for working with students led her to be honored with the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest teaching award a tenured or tenure-track professor can receive.
The awards are sponsored by the Kent State University Alumni Association and are presented to three faculty members annually.
The recognition was humbling, according to Ms. Lessman-Moss, and affirmed to her that the students feel good about what she is teaching.
“I love teaching, and I always hope that I’m making a difference in somebody’s life, but to be recognized in that kind of way makes my heart feel good,” Ms. Lessman-Moss said.
Ms. Lessman-Moss was surprised somebody took the time and effort to nominate her.
“I was extremely surprised because it’s a lot of work to nominate somebody, and you have to really believe in what you’re doing to make that effort,” Ms. Lessman-Moss said. “Somebody cared enough to do it, and I was quite humbled.”
According to one nomination, the student had never seen a faculty member as passionate as Ms. Lessman-Moss.
“I have never known any other faculty member to be as passionate about their craft or field of study,” the student wrote in the nomination. “Janice brings this passion to the studio daily in every action she takes and word she speaks. I found myself pushing far beyond what I thought I could do with her encouragement.”
The student recalled a time Ms. Lessman-Moss gave a tour of the textiles studio to students from the School of Fashion.
“Janice's passion for the subject matter came through immediately and from that moment I knew I wanted to take one of her classes. She excited every student in the room about textiles,” the student wrote.
Ms. Lessman-Moss said her favorite part of teaching is seeing ideas evolve.
“I’m sharing things that I’m aware of and have known. Most techniques I share I’ve done, so I have an understanding of the potential of the process, but students are always surprising me with new possibilities,” Ms. Lessman-Moss said.
The engaged teaching approach Ms. Lessman-Moss uses allows her to build a sense of community and connection with the students she said.
“I like to think I have created this family. I visit other textile programs and exhibitions and my students/alumni, and their weavings are everywhere in the field. I’m so proud of them and so excited about their success and that they love what they do and love what they learned and still feel it has value to them,” Ms. Lessman-Moss said.
For her, working with the students is a cycle of shared inspiration.
“The energy of the students and their innovation and new ideas feed my work and my enthusiasm, it comes full circle,” Ms. Lessman-Moss said.
The textiles program has grown and flourished because of the supportive environment and administration at Kent State, Ms. Lessman-Moss wrote in her teaching statement.
“I have embraced the leadership role and have worked hard to strengthen the program and enhance the facilities through the years,” Ms. Lessman-Moss said.
Ms. Lessman-Moss was honored at an award ceremony luncheon on Oct. 19 with the other Distinguished Teaching Award and the Outstanding Teaching Award recipients.
For more information about the textiles program visit: www.kent.edu/art/textiles
For more information on the School of Art: www.kent.edu/art