Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award
Associate Professor of Education and Special Education
World traveler/High achiever/Adventurer
Marcel Lebrun is the first to admit he has way too much energy. Fortunately, none of it goes to waste.
Lebrun arrived at PSU in 2002 with a résumé that included two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree, a doctorate, 23 years of classroom teaching, and a decade of counseling experience. In the years since, he has developed three new certificate programs in the College of Graduate Studies—in positive behavior interventions and supports, learning disabilities, and emotional behavior disorders—as well as a fifth-year master’s program in special education. Then there’s his prolific research, which focuses on the link between adolescent depression and violence and has yielded three books, with two others slated for publication in late 2008 and in 2009. As if this weren’t enough, he also teaches a full course load each semester.
It’s a demanding schedule, but you won’t hear Lebrun complain. “I love what I do,” he says. And while some may see his chosen field of research as depressing or discouraging, Lebrun accentuates the positive.“I approach my research as problem solving,” he says. “I think, ‘How can I create assessment tools so parents and teachers can recognize the warning signs and address them before the student resorts to violence?’”
Lebrun’s boundless energy and passion for his work are evident in his teaching. In the classroom, he notes, “I get to perform and inspire.” Whether it’s through his storytelling—drawn from his own wealth of experience teaching throughout the world—or role-playing exercises, Lebrun strives to prepare his students for the real world. For one student in particular, Lebrun’s lessons may have saved a life.“One of my former students was confronted by a kid with a gun during the first week of school,” he explains. “He knew what to do because we had practiced how to deal with kids who have weapons or who are physically aggressive. He had a set of skills and knowledge because of what we had done. That’s pretty powerful.”
For Lebrun, teaching skills and sharing knowledge is only part of what he enjoys about his job.“I love the fact that I know all of my students,” he says. Lebrun credits the small size of PSU for this.“They drop by [my office], we’ll chat after class, we’ll go for coffee … When I taught at the University of Manitoba, there were 28,000 students. I didn’t have the same kind of relationship with my students there as I do at Plymouth.”
Perhaps the greatest reward of teaching for Lebrun is the fact that he is able to help his students launch their own fulfilling careers in education. “I’ve had great opportunities, and as a teacher, I get to pay it forward to a lot of people,” he says. “And that’s incredibly gratifying.”