Marilyn S. Watkins


President's Award for Teaching (2000)
Indiana University East
School of Education


In 1997, Marilyn Watkins worked with colleagues to revise the IU East Division of Education's elementary education program. One result was that Watkins and her team-teaching partner, Betty Goerss, required their students to complete their "Reading II and Social Studies" methods course on site at an elementary school. Some of the students were skeptical of, even hostile toward, the new requirement. Jerry Wyett, associate professor and director of clinical experiences at IU East, met with the students and urged them to talk with Watkins and Goerss.
"At each subsequent meeting, the students assured me that they discussed their complaints with Watkins and Goerss, only to meet with the continued admonition to rise to the challenge and meet the requirements," Wyett said. By the next semester, those students had a new perspective.

"The same people who had expressed so much discontent were now lavish in their praise of how well the work in the previous semester with Marilyn and Betty had prepared them for the challenges they now faced in the classroom," said Wyett.

Watkins draws on the experiences of a varied teaching career, including the development and directorship of an alternative school, The Community School (TCS), in Long Island, N.Y. "Directing TCS was a turning point in my career," she said. "The school's philosophy stressed academic excellence while developing group spirit and cooperation and community work. I learned first hand about the realities of school politics, the value of involving students in their own learning and making the community as a whole an integral component of the educative experience."

Watkins frequently teaches social studies methods and courses on teaching in a pluralistic society and on education in American culture. She also has worked with local schools to obtain grants through the Educate Indiana 2000 program.

"Classrooms are stories in action," said Watkins. "Each student brings his or her own unique story that becomes intertwined with those of classmates, the teacher and with course content. I strive to ensure that all students are actively engaged in our classroom story."