Hagedorn Chair Presentation by Peter Valine

Photo by Matt Cavanaugh
Photo by Matt Cavanaugh

Editor’s note: Dean of Faculty Peter Valine presented the Hagedorn Chair to Sue Michalski during Convocation on September 12, 2014. The Hagedorn Chair was established in 2006 by Robert Hagedorn ’76, and his wife, Meladi, who are the parents of Gregory Hagedorn ’06.

Good afternoon. It is my privilege today to award the Hagedorn Chair to a member of the Williston faculty.

This year’s recipient of the Hagedorn Chair is a passionate teacher whose dynamic and effective teaching style has been consistently on display since her arrival on campus in 1999. Her approach to teaching is characterized by her commitment to a philosophy of language acquisition that emphasizes the use of relevant, real-life situations encountered fully in the target language. Her classroom is always a hive of energy as her students are immersed in rapid-paced, imaginative, and purposeful activities.

When asked on a student feedback survey what they liked best about the class, one student wrote, “What I think is most helpful is we never sit down, we are always actively learning.” Her pedagogy masterfully provides her students with the building blocks of language by coaxing them into their discomfort zone to provide the necessary opportunities for growth. In this manner she deftly eliminates their inhibitions while increasing their confidence and skill.

Photo by Matt Cavanaugh
Photo by Matt Cavanaugh

In a self-evaluation, she wrote that her “overriding hope is to create each year a safe, comfortable, and encouraging immersion classroom where each student can learn from rather than be embarrassed by their mistakes.”

In addition to teaching French, she has been a dorm head, a caring and thoughtful advisor, and has for many years been the faculty advisor to our school yearbook, The Log. In this capacity she has led the yearbook staff through a significant transition in transforming this publication into the digital age.

Her colleagues on the faculty respect her professionalism, and her utter dedication to the craft of teaching. We admire her energy, and the infectious enthusiasm she brings to the classroom. She is reflective in her practice as she constantly revises her lesson plans determined to keep her curriculum fresh and alive for her students. The high standards she sets for her students mirror the high standards she sets for herself, and in this way she is a wonderful role model for all of us.

I would like to close with the words of a former administrator who wrote, “It is such fun to watch Sue teach… Everyone should have this opportunity!”

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Sue Michalski is the new recipient of the Hagedorn Family Chair.

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