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Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008

Margo Sorgman

W. George Pinnell Awards for Outstanding Service

Professor of Social Studies Education
Division of Education
Indiana University Kokomo
Appointed to IU faculty, 1988
B.S., State College of Boston, 1964
M.S., Boston University, 1969
Ed.D., Boston University, 1972

"We are fortunate to have such a talented and caring community servant and teacher-scholar and Indiana University Kokomo faculty member."

--D. Antonia Cantu, Professor and Dean of Education, Indiana University Kokomo

Margo Sorgman's service at Indiana University Kokomo is grounded in one principle: to improve student learning. She's willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that.

"She is always in the trenches with others helping to make her vision happen," says Julie Saam, associate professor of education at IU Kokomo. Since 2006 Sorgman has donated her time to the Agape Therapeutic Riding Center in Cicero, where she works with special needs children from Indianapolis Public Schools. "She is not beyond putting on her jeans and boots and cleaning out a horse stable if it means that students will learn," says Saam. Sorgman's service directly benefits the special needs children at the riding center, but she also teaches her techniques to new volunteers. She also brought the experience to students in her education courses IU Kokomo, giving them a real-life example of how children can learn outside of the classroom.

One of Sorgman's most notable achievements is the founding of IU Kokomo's Center for Economic Education. She partnered with Kathy Parkison, professor of economics, for 11 years to design, direct, and fully implement the center. Sorgman and Parkison developed four courses in economics education and several annual workshops for teachers. They have offered workshops on critical thinking, problem-based learning, the integration of economics into writing, reading, and mathematics, and the development of standards-based economics lessons. Harlan Ray, executive director of the Indiana Council for Economic Education, says that Sorgman "has been a passionate supporter of the importance of economic and financial literacy for Indiana teachers and their students."

The center, which has trained more than 500 teachers, received a five-year accreditation by the National Council for Economic Education. "Sorgman has played a pivotal role in making the center a national model in collaborative teaching, research, and service engagement," says Niranjan Pati, dean and professor of the School of Business at IU Kokomo. The center has attracted grants that have provided almost $120,000 to enable teachers to take courses and attend workshops that fulfill the community engagement goal of the campus. Parkison says of Sorgman's commitment: "While the quality of her work stands by itself, the fact that this work was done without stipend, without release time, and without title makes her service even more remarkable."

Before coming to IU Kokomo 20 years ago, Sorgman spent eight years teaching fifth and sixth graders. In both elementary and higher education, Sorgman is an exceptional teacher. "She is particularly gifted at identifying students' needs, encouraging their contributions and involving them in every step of the learning process," says Natalie Keck, a Kokomo elementary school teacher.

Sorgman is an active member of the Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET), having served on its Statewide Selection Committee, Steering Committee, and Retreat Planning Committee. She is also a reviewer for the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. She has steadily accumulated prestigious awards for her teaching and service, including the Indiana University President's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006, a Virgil T. Hunt Service Award in 2007, and five IU Trustees Teaching Awards.

Sorgman has implemented several of her ideas to improve the campus. She was one of two founders of the Women's Studies Program at IU Kokomo. A member of the Mack Center for Inquiry on Teaching and Learning, Sorgman was one of the charter fellows who helped design the center. She also chaired the 2008 Fellows Selection Committee. Sorgman initiated the Division of Education's first Friends and Alumni Network, and the group will soon be selecting its first Distinguished Alumni Award and Distinguished Service Award.

Although Sorgman is heavily involved in higher education, she recognizes the value of improving education for all children. She dedicates a week of her summer vacation to volunteering with autistic children. "There is no clear boundary between giving and receiving," Sorgman says, "and most often we are on the other end of service when we extend ourselves."