‘Students Are Who We Serve'
“Students are who we serve,” said Linda Hoeptner Poling, Ph.D., associate professor in art education and undergraduate coordinator for the School of Art at Kent State University. “They are at the center. They are at the margins. They are at the folds. They are everything.”
Hoeptner Poling’s “student-centered” attitude is what led to her receiving recognition from her students and ultimately the Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA).
Hoeptner Poling is one of three educators honored with the 2022 DTA. The award is the university’s most prestigious honor in teaching and has been sponsored by the Kent State University Alumni Association since 1967.
The nominations that Hoeptner Poling received spoke to her dedication to her students.
“She supported my studies, the research I was beginning to do, my work as a GTA, and became one of, if not the biggest, cheerleader for my growth,” wrote a student nominator.
Hoeptner Poling has consistently focused her teaching style around her students and describes her teaching style as “nurturing.” From the beginning of her career as a K-12 art teacher in 1989 to now as she teaches college students how to be art educators, she approaches every group of students the same.
“No matter what age I’m teaching, I’m student centered. You have to look at the students' needs and adjust,” said Hoeptner Poling. “I love to hear their stories and adjust my curriculum as much as I can. That goes for kindergarten or for my graduating seniors.”
Along with her teaching style Hoeptner Poling hopes to guide students to be teachers that will go beyond just educating.
“Cultural responsiveness is really one of those things at the top of my list of what makes a good teacher,” said Hoeptner Poling. “We are very much about creating teachers that build a sense of belonging and community in classrooms.”
Hoeptner Poling positions herself as an example for her students and prioritizes diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work. She co-wrote four editions of the VSA Teacher Guide, which is art curricula designs for K-12 teachers with students dis/abilites accounted for, for the Kennedy Center; co-created the TEXTURES Educator Resources; and is a Quest mentor.
“I consider it a great privilege, honor and moral responsibility to be there for my students as an upstander in both my discipline of art education and outside my field as fellow human beings navigating the creation of spaces of belonging,” said Hoeptner Poling.
Hoeptner Poling and the other honorees were acknowledged at the University Teaching Council’s Fall Celebration of Teaching Conference on Friday, Oct. 21.
To read more about the Distinguished Teaching Award, visit www.kent.edu/alumni/nominate-professor.
To learn more about the School of Art, visit www.kent.edu/art/.