In her own words: Scheberle reflects on national award, UW-Green Bay career

Longtime UW-Green Bay faculty member Denise Scheberle recently earned a nationwide teaching award from the American Political Science Association. It’s a remarkable honor — perhaps even more so because Scheberle didn’t set out to become a teacher at all.

“I had had another career, and was teaching just one class at a community college,” she said. “And I had a student come up to me and she handed me a letter. Then she said to me, ‘you know, you’ve given me faith in myself. And you ought to make your avocation your vocation, and become a teacher.’ And the more I thought about that, you know, the more I realized that she was right — that for me teaching would be my life’s work.”

That life’s work has included more than two decades at UW-Green Bay, in Public and Environmental Affairs. It’s brought with it the 2012 National Teacher of the Year accolade — the inaugural honor — from the American Political Science Association. It’s featured two UW-Green Bay Founders Association awards and a UW System teacher of the year honor. But perhaps above all, Scheberle says, it’s introduced her to some incredible people.

“I think, over the course of 20 years, I mean, we’ve always had wonderful faculty — I’d put our faculty up against any on any campus,” Scheberle said. “It’s been just a treasure for me to get to know my colleagues — and also our students, and I think they’re amazing. We have a new building; we have some renovation, but the people have stayed just really sort of down-to-earth — thoughtful, caring faculty and staff and students. So it’s a nice place to be.”

Scheberle stepped back from full-time classroom teaching in 2011, and now teaches a limited number of online courses for UW-Green Bay. It’s a teaching method she never anticipated 20 years ago, but Scheberle says she still finds ways to connect — even without the face-to-face interaction. The format may be different, but her passion has remained the same.

“As we look back on the last two decades, in many senses we have made progress — you know, our water’s cleaner, our air is cleaner, we’re doing better with managing hazardous waste,” she said. “But we still have a long ways to go — we have to keep pushing at it. I hope that people get involved and stay in tuned and do what they can to protect the environment.”

Click here for a news release detailing Prof. Scheberle’s 2012 national teaching award from the American Political Science Association.

Click here for a feature story in which Prof. Scheberle discusses her teaching philosophy and outlook after receiving the 2004 statewide Teaching Excellence Award from the UW System Board of Regents.

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