McKendree University Biology Professor Honored for Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Mickey Schutzenhofer(LEBANON, Ill., November 23, 2021) – Dr. Michele “Mickey” Schutzenhofer ‘03 of McKendree University is among more than 80 St. Louis-area educators who have received the 2021 Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award for their outstanding contribution to the teaching profession and to their students. She and other recipients, who were chosen by their institutions’ top administrators, will receive an engraved crystal apple, along with additional Emerson recognition. The award also includes an opportunity to apply for an Emerson grant to support supplemental classroom services or materials at an award recipient’s school.

“Dr. Schutzenhofer’s teaching is characterized as interactive, hands-on, and enthusiastic. She provides individualized attention and truly wants each student to succeed,” said Dr. Alan Alewine, associate provost. “She is extremely supportive, level-headed, compassionate, timely, inquisitive, self-driven, trustworthy, courteous, reliable and, most importantly, humble. In her upper-level courses, she recruits students to work on research projects with her, and they gleefully do so. While instructing them about the research process, she instills in them a sense of ownership and responsibility.”

An alum of the University and native of Staunton, Ill., Dr. Schutzenhofer has been serving as a professor of biology at McKendree since 2007. She regularly teaches classes in ecology and environmental science, along with Biology for Life and Principles of Organismal and Population Biology. Appointed as Provost Fellow in January 2021, Dr. Schutzenhofer works on coordinating professional development activities for faculty, including the University’s Teaching for Excellence Workshop, the Make Your Mark Bootcamp and the Spring Book Study. She is also a former chairperson of the Division of Science and Mathematics from 2014 to 2020 and received the 2016 United Methodist Church Exemplary Teaching Award.

Dr. Schutzenhofer is also very involved in her research, particularly in documenting bee communities on rare hilltop prairies along the bluff corridor in Illinois. As a published field ecologist, she has collaborated with colleagues at local institutions and worked closely with landowners and individuals at private and public organization. Her work has allowed her to provide authentic research experiences to more than 20 students, one of whom is now in a graduate program researching bees.

“I am very honored to receive this award. McKendree has a lot of amazing faculty and teachers who care about their students and are passionate about what they teach, so it is significant to me that faculty I admire would nominate me for this award,” Dr. Schutzenhofer said. “When I was a student at McKendree, faculty here played significant roles in my future not only by securing important professional experiences for me, but also by demonstrating how exciting being in a classroom could be. I strive to give some of those same experiences back to the students at McKendree now that I serve as one of those faculty members.”

Other McKendree graduates who received the 2021 Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award include the following:

  • Jill Dalke, M.A.Ed. ’09, a teacher at Freeburg High School in Freeburg, Ill.

  • Amy F. Heath, M.A.Ed. ’10, a chemistry teacher at Granite City High School in Granite City, Ill.

  • Lana Kunz, M.A.Ed. ‘11 a kindergarten teacher at Belle Valley Elementary School in Belleville, Ill.

  • Monica (Weilbacher) Mize, M.A.Ed. ’14, a librarian at Eagleview Elementary School in Columbia, Ill.

  • John Parciak, M.A.Ed. ’14, a second grade teacher at Kreitner Elementary School in Collinsville, Ill.

  • Jessica Stein, M.A.Ed. ’10, an early childhood teacher at Grant Elementary School in Fairview Heights, Ill.

  • Kristen Stoltz, M.A.Ed. ’13, an eighth grade teacher at High Mount School in Swansea, Ill.

  • Kerri (Zeisset) Thaler, ’97, M.A. Ed. ’11, a special education teacher at Central School District in O’Fallon, Ill.

  • Jennifer (Krause) Wegener, M.A.Ed. ’11, a special education teacher at Millstadt Primary Center in Millstadt, Ill.

  • Megan (McQuiston) Zinck, ’11, a third grade teacher at Wingate Elementary School in Mascoutah, Ill.