Last modified: Thursday, March 30, 2006
The President's Award
Professor of Education
Director of Student Teaching
Division of Education
Indiana University Kokomo
Appointed to IU faculty, 1988
Ed.D., Boston University, 1972
M.S., Boston University, 1969
B.S., State College at Boston, 1964
Jack Tharp recalls being at a brown bag lunch with Margo Sorgman about a year ago. The topic was how to handle disruptive students, and Sorgman made several good suggestions. "Of course, who better understands classroom behavior than a teacher of teachers?" Tharp, IU Kokomo vice chancellor of student services and enrollment management, recalls thinking to himself.
"In retrospect, that incident reminds me that Margo was offering more than practical experience," Tharp says. "She was presenting expertise in a field where she is a master teacher."
Sorgman has been a "teacher of teachers" in higher education for more than 40 years, nearly 20 of them at IU Kokomo. Her teaching philosophy is rooted in the ideas of educational reformer John Dewey. "Learning is cognitively and affectively driven, and those approaches that engage the head and heart lead to the reasoned judgments needed in society," Sorgman says. "Dewey viewed the democratic classroom as the ideal place for human development to occur. My approach is to demystify course explanations by making them clear, precise, and attainable."
Sorgman continually revises and updates all of her courses to keep the information relevant. Her Introduction to Education course has changed from campus-based to field-based, meaning students must spend 40 hours as teachers' aides. Students from her methods course come in to the introductory class to demonstrate the standards-based curriculum, an exercise that is beneficial to both classes. Her Social Studies in the Elementary Education course has evolved from a class aimed at enhancing student understanding of social studies to a combined social studies and science course.
Sorgman is widely published in journals, including The Teacher Educator, Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research, and Teaching Excellence, among others. She serves on several university-wide committees and has made hundreds of presentations around the state, across the nation, and overseas. Throughout her career, she has been honored with awards including the IU Trustees Teaching Award (in 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005), the TERA Award in Teaching Excellence (in 1997 and 1999), and the Claude Rich Excellence in Teaching Award (1996).
"Margo has never been satisfied with just being a good teacher," says Julie Saam, assistant professor of education at IU Kokomo. "She is always looking for ways to improve her teaching, always looking for ways to help her students learn. I have been teaching for 16 years, and what Margo is able to do with her students is truly a gift."
"Her record exemplifies what IU expects in its very best teacher, says Stuart Green, IU Kokomo vice chancellor for academic affairs. "She is a model of teaching supported by research and reflection."
Jenny Marshall, Kokomo Consolidated Schools teacher, has taken classes from Sorgman and considers her instrumental to her success as a teacher — in terms of her own professional development and in the ongoing professional collaboration they share. "She continually provides support and encouragement while challenging me to be the best teacher I can be," says Marshall. "She is a wonderful asset to our community and I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with her."
Student comments from end-of-semester evaluations echo Marshall's words: "I cannot adequately express how wonderful this instructor is and how much this teacher means to me," says one student. "I strive to teach with the passion she does."