May 31, 2024
On Campus

2024 Distinguished Teacher

Wittenberg Alumni Association Board Selects Professor of Education Amy McGuffey as Recipient of Top Faculty Prize

Celebrating dedication to superior quality teaching, this year’s top faculty prize, the 2024 Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching, was recently presented to Amy McGuffey, associate professor of education and department chair. The award was announced by Wittenberg Alumni Association Board President Matt Overturf, class of 2011, during the institution’s annual Honors Convocation last month.

“Professors can make a strong impact on a student’s academic experience,” Overturf said. “Here at Wittenberg, professors become a counselor, a friend, and sometimes a stand-in parent. During my time at Witt, many professors had a hand in developing my academic and professional path.

“Dr. McGuffey has continued a great tradition of connecting with students, bringing them to Wittenberg, and giving it everything she has to make their lives and careers more fulfilling. In turn, they are lifelong contributors to our communities and stewards of Wittenberg University. Thank you for your many gifts and for sharing them with us,” he added. 

McGuffey is a 1995 graduate of Wittenberg, where she earned her B.A. in elementary education followed by an M.A. in education from Urbana University, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Dayton. She joined the faculty ranks in fall 2014. Involved with many initiatives across campus, including the extensive student success initiative underway, McGuffey is also a member of the Faculty Executive Board (FEB). Additionally, she teaches a range of courses from sociological perspectives of education and the education senior seminar to teaching social studies in secondary schools. 

She considers herself fortunate to have the opportunity to share her passion for education with students through numerous undergraduate and graduate courses, specializing in leadership, special education, and social studies methods.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award,” McGuffey said. “My heartfelt gratitude goes to the Alumni Association for its dedication to the University and for recognizing excellence in teaching at Wittenberg,” McGuffey said. “The Association’s careful consideration in selecting the award recipient is truly appreciated. 

“Receiving this award is an indescribable privilege, as it signifies more than words can convey,” she continued. “It reaffirms that my efforts in the classroom have left a meaningful and lasting impression on my students. Knowing that I have made a positive impact on their lives is the greatest reward of all. I am grateful for this recognition and the opportunity to continue making a difference in the lives of my students.”

In her nomination, former students shared what makes McGuffey stand out in her field.

“Staying true to one of Wittenberg’s promises, Dr. McGuffey had her door open, and I was able to peek in to see the usual water, candy, protein bars, and general snacks she had for those who stopped by,” said Lucas George, class of 2018, who is now a social studies teacher. “This meeting was originally supposed to be about classes for the semester, but it turned into a conversation about life and, eventually, goals I had for the future. In the past, I had explained to several people that my goal was to be the Secretary of Education for the United States. Most widened their eyes, and some even told me to lower my expectations. The thing about Dr. McGuffey is that she has never and will never doubt a student. She looked me right in the eye and said, “OK, so let’s start planning how we get you there.” She didn’t even flinch. In that moment, she taught me one of the most important lessons I will ever learn in my life as a teacher: always believe in your students. From that point forward, I no longer felt crazy and began to believe a little more in myself.

“Each former and current student you talk to will tell you about how she is not only a professor at Wittenberg but a guiding light and shining example of what an educator should value,” he added. “That value lies in her constant support, advice, and belief in her students even after they graduate. And it all starts with an open door and a friendly smile. And I am thankful to this day that Dr. McGuffey let me in.”

McGuffey brings a wide range of experience to Wittenberg from her 16 years of teaching in urban, rural, and online public-school settings. She has experience at all grade levels and spent most of her time teaching middle school history and language arts. Early in her career, she served as an adjunct professor at both Wittenberg and Wright State University in undergraduate and graduate courses. She also worked as a research assistant at the University of Dayton where she researched, wrote, and presented on such topics as school vouchers and Catholic private schools, weighted funding in special education, and school climate and culture.

“The best thing about teaching is the relationships with students,” McGuffey said. “I believe that without developing a trusting and respectful relationship with students, they will not want to learn from you. Beyond the relationships, I enjoy developing informative yet engaging content that will cause students to want to come to class each day.”

In his award presentation, Overturf added that “Wittenberg is exceptional not only for the classroom experience but also for the experiences beyond the classroom,” noting that McGuffey has exemplified this fact throughout her career.

During the Honors Convocation, in fact, McGuffey also earned the Champion Award for Community Impact, which recognizes an individual’s commitment to service, the quality of that service, and its positive impact on the City of Springfield and Clark County. McGuffey is passionate about service and her work with the local nonprofit organization, On-The-Rise.

“Service at and beyond Wittenberg is very important to me,” McGuffey said. “In one of the courses I teach, sociological perspectives of education, there is a 10-hour field requirement. Because this is a general education course that students who might not be interested in teaching can also take, several years ago I decided to have them work at a location in the community that connects with youth in a different way than the traditional school system. On-The-Rise Farm is a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth. The students in my course complete different projects around the farm that involve the kids helping. They have completed projects that include but are not limited to designing and building a room for the kids to doing activities/schoolwork in the barn, planning and helping at the fall festival, and turning a chicken coop into a potting shed. Because of this experience, many of them return to On-The-Rise for community service and several of them have been hired to work at the farm. Previously, I worked with Promise Neighborhood on projects at Lincoln Elementary School. I also work with schools in and outside of Clark County to provide professional development for their teachers.”

Established in 1960, the Distinguished Teaching Award is presented to a faculty member who has completed five years of service at Wittenberg and is a full-time teacher at the time of selection. Selection is based on current performance, and all alumni, students, faculty, and staff are allowed to nominate candidates. This award continues to be the highest campus honor a Wittenberg professor can receive. 

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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