April 29, 2020
On Campus

Distinguished Teacher

Wittenberg Alumni Select Education Professor Brian Yontz to Receive Top Faculty Prize

During this year’s virtual Honors Convocation, a month-long celebration of academic excellence, the Wittenberg University Alumni Board announced that Brian D. Yontz, chair and associate professor of education, is this year’s recipient of the Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching, the top faculty prize at Wittenberg.

The award, presented by Alumni Board member Tosha Bell, Wittenberg class of 2007, recognizes the superior classroom teaching that takes place at Wittenberg. The Alumni Association established the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1960. The faculty recipient must have completed five years of service at Wittenberg and be a full-time teacher at the time of selection. Selection is based on current performance.

“It’s clear you are an expert in education and have been able to convey your knowledge in a way that is understandable and exciting to students,” Bell said during a special Zoom meeting to recognize Yontz. “I've personally never had the pleasure of having you in class, but my interactions with you as an alum have been nothing but positive, and current and former students always talk about how great of a professor you are and provide that commentary unsolicited.

“You always look out for what’s best for your students, provide them with superior teaching and expertise, and show them genuine care that makes Wittenberg the amazing place that it is. You have shown superior classroom teaching and represent academic excellence, so it’s with great honor and pleasure that I and my fellow Wittenberg Alumni Board members get to present you, Dr. Brian Yontz, with The Alumni Association’s 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award.”

Yontz, who was recently elected to the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (OACTE), came to Wittenberg in 2006. A product of the Springfield City Schools, he teaches courses in urban education, educational policy, foundations of education, and urban education at the graduate and undergraduate level.

“To hear all the comments from current students and alumni is humbling. Few things, I believe are more important than teaching young adults who are being launched into society as ethical and critically thinking human beings,” Yontz shared upon learning the news. “I’m in a unique position because what I do all day is study teaching and study learning, so I have an ever-changing perspective of what being a good teacher looks like. Preparing educators requires three distinct populations; our colleagues in the arts, humanities, and sciences, our colleagues in the K-12 world, and those of us in teacher education. I feel blessed to be around the great teachers found in every building on Wittenberg’s campus and in every K-12 school in the region, every single day.”

Yontz is one of Wittenberg’s faculty athletics representatives and previously served as a Board of Examiner member for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). From 2006-2009, he served as the director of student teaching and teacher placement and served as the director of licensure and program approval. Prior to coming to Wittenberg, he was the partnership and outreach coordinator at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, working with teachers at Stivers School for the Arts in the Dayton Public Schools.

The author of multiple peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, Yontz has presented at numerous state, national, and international conferences. His main areas of research are teacher education program policy and design, urban schooling, and the intersection of society, history, policy, and schools. In 2015, he won the National Scholar Award from the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education for research focused on alternative pathways of teacher credentialing.

Yontz earned his B.A. from Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, his M.S. from Wright State University and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. He has completed six full marathons, is an avid golfer, and cyclist, has traveled to 48 states, and serves on the Clark County area committee for Young Life. He resides in Springfield with his wife, Erin, and daughters, Claire and Caroline.

Here are some comments from some of his past students:

"I met Dr. Yontz through his support of Wittenberg athletics. Although I was not a student in the education department and may not have ever sat in one of his classes, Dr. Yontz has taught me (and many others) many lessons outside of the classroom. Conversations with him are intentional, and he truly cares about helping you become the best version of yourself. Dr. Yontz cares deeply about this University and the students in it, regardless of their academic or extracurricular involvement."

"He did such a great job clearly teaching topics and made me realize the widespread importance of the lessons we learned in his classroom. You could tell he truly cared about the subjects he taught, and it was even more clear that he cared about his students. One of the coolest experiences I had at Wittenberg was my freshmen year when we learned about current education issues happening in a part of St. Louis. The basketball team made the NCAA tournament and went to compete in St. Louis that year. Dr. Yontz actually came with us and rode on the bus. As we were riding out of St. Louis he actually pointed out to me the area that we were learning about in class and told me more about it. I just always thought that was so cool because it put in perspective his passion and the realness of what he teaches."

"He’s emotionally involved with his students and he cares about their education as well as their emotional well-being."

"He’s a wonderful educator who pushes me academically. As my advisor he has gone above and beyond, not only academically but on a personal level as well. Dr. Yontz has continued to support me in my teaching career and never allows me to doubt myself. I cannot find enough kind things to say about Dr. Brian Yontz, he might be one of the most caring human beings I’ve ever met and he’s passionate about education in general.”

2020 Honors Convocation
In light of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, Wittenberg is hosting this year's recognition of academic excellence virtually. Normally held in Weaver Chapel, the 2020 Honors Convocation kicked off with a special welcome video by President Mike Frandsen, April 3.
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Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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