Horton, Cherry honored May 8 during commencement The how and why of matters is just part of what students truly value when they attend a university.
Membership and friendship are highly regarded values that students use to define good teachers. Teaching, mentoring and giving of time unconditionally are how University of South Dakota students describe two USD professors who were honored for outstanding teaching on Saturday, May 8 at The University of South Dakota 111th spring commencement exercises.
USD Professors Paul Cherry and Laura Horton received the 1999 Belbas-Larson Awards for Excellence in Teaching at the commencement.
Cherry, professor of woodwinds/music history, has taught at USD for 32 years and received the Belbas-Larson award for a tenured faculty member. Horton, an assistant professor in the USD School of Education Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies Program since 1997, received the non-tenured faculty award. The recognition includes $5,000 cash awards. These awards were established by 1956 USD graduate Dean Belbas of Edina, MN, and Sioux Falls, and his friends, Harold W. and Kathryn Larson of Bemidji, MN, and Scottsdale AZ.
Belbas-Larson Awards recognize professors who set high performance standards for themselves and for their students. The recipients also inspire students to greater achievement; provide evidence that course content represents the highest standards in the field; maintain involvement with students outside the classroom; receive positive evaluations by students; show evidence of continuing professional development; and demonstrate improved teaching technique.
In attempting to be the "guide on the side," rather than a "sage on the stage," Horton focuses on developing students' critical thinking skills. She uses her background in instructional design to prepare for a class; incorporating specific objectives that outline what students should take away from the class.
"I hope my students learn from me, but I also have the desire to learn from them. By incorporating life experience and practice with theory and research, students will be able to analyze, synthesize and apply information in order to make decisions," said Horton, who earned her Ed.D. from the USD School of Education in adult and higher education in 1997. She also has an M.A. degree in health, physical education and recreation in 1988 and a B.S. in business administration in 1984 from USD.
"It is nice that this award confirms that perhaps somewhere along the line, you have made an impact. It is special that students nominated me for this honor," she said.
In their nominations, students noted Horton's organized and modern approach to teaching. They noted the important contributions Horton has made in and out of the classroom.
"She (Professor Horton) is someone who takes the initiative to learn the latest methods in teaching. Just recently, she converted her notes to a multi-media power point presentation and now gives her class notes on a video projection screen. In her upper-level classes, she makes sure to incorporate lectures, cooperative learning groups and other teaching methods, because she knows that each individual learns best in different ways," said Krystal K. Paulson of Yankton. "Each day she challenges the way I think, feel and act."
According to USD student Shantel C. Schumack of Leola, Horton creates an atmosphere in her classes that is very conductive to learning. "She does not stand intimidatingly in front of her classes, but produces a non-threatening environment where students are able to express their thoughts and opinions freely without worrying about criticism or negativity. She values our ideas, and that is very rewarding," she said.
Students noted Horton's teaching style includes utilizing current events in her classes. She also has had students track a bill throughout the South Dakota Legislature. "Before I felt like I had no control over legislation, and now I know I can call, write or e-mail my opinions to my Legislature and feel I am doing my part," said Schumack. "She believes in us, that we have the ability to achieve whatever we desire and looks at teaching as a great opportunity to learn from us as much as we can learn from her," she said.
"She is a very skilled professor who utilizes technology in the classroom to make it easier for us to learn. It's more than just learning, though. She is teaching us how to survive in the real world by showing us what's out there. I think that it's more her style of teaching and the way she makes us feel that we are important and that she appreciates us being there," said student Crystal Gustafson of Sioux Falls.
Horton also has served as an instructor in the USD ADAS program (1993-97). From 1989-90, and in 1992, she was an adjunct instructor in the Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at USD. Horton was coordinator of alcohol and drug abuse studies outreach program from 1994-96. During 1993-94, she served as co-director of the multi-media project on drunk driving. She was coordinator of the USD Health Enhancement Led by Peers (HELP) Program, which received national awards in 1993 and 1994 as an outstanding chapter. Horton was also an assistant coordinator of the Resource Education and Community Health Project and has worked with the National Youth Sports Program. Horton has been a South Dakota certified alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention specialist since 1994. She is a member of the Phi Delta Kappa organization, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, South Dakota Chemical Dependency Association and currently serves as the secretary for the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.
She is a member of the President's Task Force for Alcohol, Drug and Violence Prevention at USD and the dean's advisory committee in the School of Education. She has been involved in community service including work with the Vermillion Area American Cancer Society Board.
Cherry � Tenured
According to Cherry, the Belbas-Larson teaching honor is a reflection of the influence teachers in his life has made on him. "It has occurred to me you can never repay your teachers � you can only pass it on," said Cherry, who earned his Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Colorado in 1980. He has an A.B. degree in music education from Duke University in 1956 and a M.M. degree in 1958 from the Eastman School of Music.
Cherry cites Allen Bone, professor of clarinet at Duke University; David Weber, formerly the associate principal clarinetist of the Toscanini NBC Symphony, with whom he studied privately with for three years in New York; and Alan Luhring, professor of musicology at the University of Colorado, as important influences during his life.
"They all had more time for me than I could ever repay and provided the kind of support a student needs," he said. "They were all interested in me as a person and they presented enormous challenges to me. They were always willing to give their time."
In the same way he was influenced by great teachers, Cherry himself has made a difference in the careers and lives of many students. Steven Arlie Hoffman, a graduate of USD now studying in a doctoral program at the University of Michigan � Ann Arbor, nominated Cherry, calling him an "inspiration."
"Part of the inspiration Dr. Cherry gives to his students is his innate ability to immerse them in the historic material and to begin a discussion. To experience the music and then to have it explained ensured our understanding of the central topic of the day," said Hoffman. "He made himself available to his students at any time of the day or night. He welcomed our questions, even if we called him at home. No question was ever ill received. He guided us by asking more questions of us, so that we arrived at the appropriate answer via our own thought process," said Hoffman.
"The level of Dr. Cherry's teaching is so strong that adults already involved in their own careers return to learn from him. He invites students to stretch their knowledge and understanding even when they start with a strong background of the subject in question," said nominator Arlene Krueger, instructor in piano at Augustana College in Sioux Falls and president of the West Central Division of the Music Teachers National Association. "Dr. Cherry's interest in furthering his own learning is evidenced by his continuing pursuit of classes to learn Baroque and earlier dances important to the understanding of the development of music. He is delighted to share the skills he has amassed with such varying groups as a high school choral group planning a renaissance feast or a group of piano teachers eager to help their students make sense of these interesting early (music) forms," he said. "Not only does he see the history of music as an academic pursuit, but by his own actions he demonstrates to his students past and present that knowledge enhances performance," said Krueger.
Cherry, who has been a clarinetist in the Sioux City Symphony since 1967, also taught at Tennessee Tech University (1966-67), the Florida International Summer Music Festival and for the Jacksonville, FL public schools. He was principal clarinet for the Jacksonville Symphony from 1961-66 and the principal clarinetist with the American Ballet Theatre orchestra in 1961.
In 1987, the USD Student Association named Cherry "Outstanding Professor of the Year." He has made 14 study trips to Europe from 1985-99. He was a featured soloist at the dedication of the Bone Recital Hall at Duke University in 1995, and is a soloist for the Sioux City Municipal Band every summer.
Cherry is a member of the American Musicological Society, the Carius Milhaud Society, for which he has served as a guest speaker and wrote the program book at their Milhaud String Quartet Festival held at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1991. He also is a member of Dlmetsch Historical Dance Society.
The longtime music professor has received the "Distinguished Service Award" from the South Dakota High School Activities Association and he has received various faculty research grants and Bush grants. A judge of the South Dakota All-State Band Woodwind Judge since 1977, he has been a member of the Sioux City Symphony Player's Association since 1976, and has served on its executive board and as president. Two of his students have won the state competition sponsored by the Music Teachers' National Association.
To Cherry, good teaching includes the experiences of life. A former professional musician, Cherry knows that experience has helped him develop his teaching skills.
"Sometimes I feel like Merlin the magician," said Cherry about how teaching keeps him young at heart. "If you recall, he went backwards in time. Each time I learn something I couldn't have handled five or ten years ago, it makes me feel younger," he said.
In teaching, concepts develop and change over time and so do good teachers. Horton and Cherry are prime examples.