Faculty member Stephanie Gardner wins statewide teaching award


By Tom McGuire, Director of Communications and Media Relations

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania faculty member Stephanie Gardner has been named the 2021 Teacher Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators (PAC-TE). The statewide award, PAC-TE's most prestigious, is based on faculty teaching, scholarship, and service.

"To be honored with this award through an organization I am grateful to be a part of is a very humbling feeling and a moment that I will not forget," said Gardner, assistant professor of exceptionality programs in the College of Education. "I have been actively involved in PAC-TE for the last eight years and greatly value all of the opportunities my involvement has opened up to me in building relationships with colleagues, advocating for our teacher preparation programs, and collaborating with key stakeholders at the state level. I've also developed my leadership skills through various roles I have served in."

In her nomination, Gardner's work in both her department and the community was highlighted. At BU, she earned the Provost's Award for Excellence in Research/Scholarly Activity Recipient; was the McDowell Institute Faculty Fellowship recipient (2019-2021); and was named the Vicki and John Mihalik Faculty Fellow in 2020 (a two-year appointment). In the community, she is the lead faculty advisor of the Trinity Learning Community student organization, which supports adults with disabilities living in Bloomsburg.

Bloomsburg University President Bashar Hanna is proud of the recognition given to Gardner.

"I congratulate Dr. Stephanie Gardner on receiving PACT-TE's most prestigious award," said Hanna. "To be recognized by your peers as the best is an affirmation of her talents as an exemplary educator and demonstrates the passion she has for helping our students succeed. Her work to make our community better is certainly noteworthy and commendable."

"We (in the College of Education) are extremely proud of the work Dr. Gardner does every day at BU and for her advocacy at the state level," said Daryl Fridley, BU's dean of the College of Education. "This award is well-deserved recognition of the important contributions she regularly makes to the field of teacher education. We are lucky to have her here at BU."

Gardner credits her mother for inspiring her to become a teacher. "My mom has been a pivotal influence as to why I am in the field of special education. She is a graduate of BU, having gone through her undergraduate program in special education as a non-traditional student with two young children. Growing up, I saw her persevere to achieve her dream. Her involvement as a therapeutic horseback riding instructor and as a homebound instruction special educator made me realize that I wanted to find my place in this world, supporting and advocating for individuals with special needs. My mom is one of the most selfless, accepting, and joy-filled people I know, and a true educator at heart."

Amy Eitzen, BU's assistant dean in the College of Education, nominated Gardner for the Award. "When I reviewed the qualifications for the award, it was evident to me that Dr. Gardner met all of the requirements with distinction," said Eitzen. "During the presentation of the award, a number of her accomplishments were described, but those who do not work with Dr. Gardner cannot know her total value to us at Bloomsburg University."

PAC-TE is a nonprofit professional association for all those in Pennsylvania who are engaged in the preparation and development of professional educators. It is dedicated to providing strong advocacy for professional educator preparation within the Commonwealth.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 7,800 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.