Columbia’s own named top teacher in state

By Kaiti Deerberg

Columbia’s Beau Beaudoin was named Illinois’ 2008 Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Beaudoin was chosen out of more than 300 nominees, as one of 38 who were selected for the honor.

Her career began as an adjunct faculty member in the Television Department in 1986. Over time, Beaudoin climbed the ranks to become associate chair of the department.

“I ended up begging to resign because I wanted to spend more time in the classroom with students,” Beaudoin said of her former position as associate chair.

She has been a beloved teacher on campus for many years.  She said she strives to create a classroom environment where everyone is comfortable and able to connect.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but I absolutely love what I do,” Beudoin said. “I love my students, and I really want to help them recognize their power and use their voice.”

In 1996, Beaudoin created a new class to add toColumbia’s curriculum called Culture, Race and Media.  Beaudoin noticed students stereotyping and using bad media examples in class.

“We were teaching students how to use equipment, how to produce a show—all of these things,” Beaudoin said. “But we were not teaching them how to be ethically responsible and civic-minded media-makers.”

The class flourished and has remained a popular course at Columbia since its introduction.  Beaudoin also prides herself on creating real relationships and staying in contact with students.

Annie Esp, a 1996 Columbia alumna and former student of Beaudoin’s, is now an editor for ABC Channel 7 News and continues to stay in contact with Beaudoin. She also wrote a letter of recommendation for Beaudoin’s Carnegie Award as a former student.

“She is one of those teachers who motivates you to do and be anything you want,” Esp said.

Esp said Beaudoin’s Culture, Race and Media course helped prepare her for a job as a news editor.  “The class opened my eyes and made me aware of so much more,” Esp said. “Beau is the perfect meshing of education and practicality.”

Beaudoin said winning the award and attending the ceremony in Washington D.C. was an amazing experience, but she was most moved by the letters of recommendation written by current students, former students and colleagues vouching for her.

“I was able to read my letters, and it was such an emotional experience for me,” Beaudoin said. “I was so happy to see all these great things my students and colleagues had to say that the award itself was almost secondary.”

She has  been awarded for her excellence in teaching throughout her career.

“It’s so surprising. You dont expect to be recognized for doing what you love.” Beaudoin said.

In 1995 she received the Excellence in Teaching Award from Columbia. She has also received awards and grants from the Chicago Board of Education, The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation.

“I think its a wonderful thing, and greatly deserved,” said Michael Niederman, chair of the Television Department. “It is a proud moment for the department and Columbia as well.”