PLYMOUTH –– Professors William Hett, Esther Kennedy and Christian Bisson are the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Teaching Awards from Plymouth State University. Each year, PSU presents three awards for excellence in teaching. Nominations for these honors are accepted from faculty, staff, students and alumni.
“By making these awards, we honor the teaching profession and we reaffirm our belief that teaching is of central importance to our mission at Plymouth State University,” said Julie Bernier, PSU provost. “These three faculty are among the very best of Plymouth State University. I am so pleased to see them honored by their students and colleagues.”
Bisson, professor of adventure education, is the Distinguished Teacher Award recipient. A member of the PSU faculty since 2004, Bisson has taught courses in outdoor adventure education for his entire professional career, from working with juvenile offenders in wilderness therapy programs to teaching technical skill, outdoor pedagogy, and risk management in adventure education to undergraduates.
He is known among his students and fellow faculty for being unafraid to take risks in teaching and always looking for creative ways to apply theoretical concepts. Bisson’s commitment to students extends to his service on campus, where he is active in such organizations as the Curriculum Committee and the Adventure Education Club.
“I have been inspired by this award since my first year at PSU and I secretly was hoping that one year in the far future, I would be considered and perhaps even selected for this award – after many years of excellence in my teaching,” Bisson said. “I teach to help my students grow personally and professionally. Through learning experiences that I create, I hope that my students will develop their own passion for teaching. I hope they will develop solid outdoor technical skills and promising leadership skills. I also hope they will develop intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. In the end, I truly hope that they will develop a deep sustainable and meaningful relationship with nature.”
Kennedy is the recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award. A member of the Plymouth State faculty since 2005, Esther Kennedy teaches graduate courses in language and learning disabilities, curriculum development in special education, autism and spectrum disorders, and ethical and legal issues for families and children.
She is honored for her ability to make the education of PSU students come alive by bringing her personal experiences as one of New Hampshire’s most prominent special educators into the classroom. She serves as director of student services in the Gilford School Districts and is a member of many state-wide task forces and committees in the area of special education.
“I’m very honored by this award,” Kennedy said. “This became more profound when I found out that the students were involved in my receiving of this acknowledgment. An honor like this makes you reflect on your experiences as an educator and the institution that you work for. The two have to go hand in hand.”
Hett, an adjunct mathematics professor at PSU since 2007, was presented with the Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award. Hett is a Plymouth State alum, (’69) joining the mathematics department after retiring from a 36-year career in private boarding school secondary education.
Throughout much of his teaching career he served in the US Coast Guard Reserve, retiring as a chief warrant officer in 2005, as well as completing a stint in the US Naval Reserve during his undergraduate years at Plymouth State. Hett also received PSU’s 2011–2012 Distinguished Mathematics Professor award who has earned a well-deserved reputation as a fair, kind instructor who wants his students to succeed.
“I am there for them when they need help and encouragement as they move forward,” Hett said. “You get to know your students as individuals, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and work with them as soon as possible both in the classroom and office time. It has been successful with the students I have had over the past 6 years at PSU. There are many deserving adjuncts for this award, so I said ‘why me?’ even though I was happy to receive it.”
Hett, Kennedy and Bisson were acknowledged Aug. 28 at PSU’s Faculty Day event.