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Latha Ramchand, University of Missouri provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Steve Sowers, president and CEO of the central region of Commerce Bank, today awarded a 2021 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence to Laurie Kingsley, a teaching professor in the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum.
MU College of Education Interim Erica Lembke joined administrators surprising Kingsley virtually by honoring her with the fellowship, which includes a $15,000 check. Kemper Fellowships are awarded to five outstanding teachers at the University of Missouri each year.
The William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence, which were established in 1991 with a $500,000 gift. Kemper, a 1926 MU graduate, was a well-known civic leader in Kansas City until his death in 1989. His 52-year career in banking included top positions at banks in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. Commerce Bank manages the trust fund.
Kingsley’s bio states: Laurie Kingsley’s teaching is gift-wrapped in enthusiasm and compassion. She braids together the importance of community, professionalism and kindness in a smart and caring manner – while always leaving her office door open for any student with a question or concern.
A professor of literacy at MU since 2005, Kingsley has consistently earned the highest of student evaluations from undergraduates for her commitment to preparing future teachers.
“I have known Laurie since my arrival at MU in 2012, and I have found that her work with and for the students and faculty of MU to exemplify teaching excellence,” said Zandra de Araujo, an associate professor of mathematics education. “Dr. Kingsley is engaging, knowledgeable and kind. She has gone above and beyond what is required of her in developing opportunities for students to get involved in the profession.”
Kingsley ignites a passion and enthusiasm for teaching. Just ask 2020 MU graduate Carli Smith, who took several undergraduate courses from Kingsley.
“One takeaway I had from being in Laurie’s class that I now strive to do in my own classroom is to always spread kindness and let people know how great they are,” Smith said. “Being a new teacher, you can forget how powerful your words can be to students. Watching her for the past four years has taught me not only the qualities of a great teacher, but also the responsibility you have to be a support system for your students.”
Kingsley’s dedication to her students and passion for teaching are incredibly contagious. It is not uncommon for her to invite students to her home for a meal, art project and gathering around her firepit to swap stories and cook s’mores. These experiences strengthen her classroom community and set the stage for more meaningful and thoughtful conversations.
“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Laurie was very cognizant of the variety of issues her students were possibly facing,” said Angie Zapata, a colleague of Kingsley and an associate professor of language and literacies education. “Not only did she offer flexible due dates and teach every one of her classes via Zoom and in-person, but she also implemented weekly check-ins to ensure her students could navigate the unusual year with success and remind them of the importance of their physical, mental and emotional wellness.”
Kingsley earned the UM System President’s Award for Service in 2020, as well as the College of Education Golden Apple Award in 2019. She serves as a faculty sponsor for the Mid Missouri Undergraduate Student Reading Association. She meets with interested students monthly to discuss relevant literacy issues and to support their annual book drive to fill new teachers’ libraries.
Additionally, Kingsley leads a literacy student organization for students to expand their views of literacy and to advocate for better educational outcomes for all students. She also started a group called Becoming Anti-Racist White Educators (BAR-WE) to reflect on and examine implicit biases, study the history of racism and discuss ideas for becoming more culturally responsive in teaching.
“Laurie Kingsley has been one of my favorite professors I’ve had here at Mizzou,” said a student in their course evaluation for Kingsley’s Contexts for Writing Methods class. “I feel like I have learned so much content that I didn’t know I needed. For every assignment I submitted, she had thorough feedback that made my day and made all the hard work that I put in feel worth it.”