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Distinguished Teaching Award Winner Gruhler Honored for Guiding Future Teachers

Posted April 4, 2011 | Allison Brookes
profiles Danielle Gruhler inside
Danielle Gruhler

Dr. Danielle Gruhler, assistant professor of literary education, wanted nothing more than the opportunity to change the lives of students. Since 2002, Gruhler has been doing just that.

In 2010, Gruhler was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award for her extraordinary teaching and commitment to her students' success.

"I believe that students need to be actively and deeply engaged as they construct understanding for new concepts," Gruhler says. "In my classes, students engage in the very experiences I would like for them to enact in their own language arts classrooms, using rich children's and young adult literature."

Gruhler, who taught in the Solon City Schools 11 years prior to teaching at Kent State, holds two degrees from John Carroll University — a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in literary studies. Gruhler also received her doctorate from Kent State University.

For the past eight years she's been at Kent State, Gruhler has been teaching future teachers about their personal and professional lives.

"I love my students," Gruhler says. "They are eager to learn and try what they're learning in their own classrooms and field experiences."

One student that stands out in Gruhler's mind was in her Reading and Writing in Middle Childhood Education class. One day, at the end of class, a student approached Gruhler and asked if he could share a poem he had written. The poem was about the "safe place" that Gruhler's classroom was: a place where he could reflect on the kind of person and teacher he wanted to be for his future students. The student wrote that "through each others' footsteps we learn about our world."

Gruhler says she reads that poem every once in a while and smiles at the memory of that moment.

Not only do the students make teaching at Kent State enjoyable for Gruhler, but also the faculty and staff at Kent State contribute.

"I am part of a very supportive environment where colleagues challenge and encourage one another, collaborate, solve problems and make decisions with the best interests of our students and the field of education in mind," Gruhler says.

Gruhler says the administrative staff in the School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies is very supportive and is second to none.

"Each one makes you think your request for help is the most important task at hand," Gruhler says.

Throughout her entire career, Gruhler has received several other awards. In 2009, she was a Distinguished Teaching Award nominee and was the recipient of the University Fellowship from Kent State in 2003. Gruhler also won the National Writing Project Fellow award in 1998.

However, the most humbling accomplishment for Gruhler is being a Distinguished Teaching Award winner.

"My colleagues, co-workers, family and friends have shared their own excitement for me," Gruhler says. "I can say, however, that my 10- and three-year-old sons are probably the least impressed. To them, I'm simply 'Mom.'"

The Distinguished Teaching Award, sponsored by the Kent State Alumni Association, was presented to two other individuals who demonstrate extraordinary teaching in the classroom and a commitment to impacting the lives of students. The other winners include Deborah Bice, Department of English, Kent State University at Ashtabula and Kristen Marcussen of the Department of Sociology.