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Three professors awarded for excellence in teaching

By Elianna Spitzer

Section: News, Top Stories

April 28, 2017

Three professors received awards for excellence in teaching at a faculty meeting on Friday, April 21. The professors were primarily chosen through student nominations, and the Dean’s Office of Arts and Sciences presented the awards.

Adrianne Krstansky (TA) joined the Brandeis faculty in 1999 and has won awards for her work in theater production and teaching. When nominating Krstansky for the Lerman-Neubauer ’69 Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring, a student wrote, “As a professor, she is sensitive to students’ needs but pushes us to discover new abilities. I have never been so excited to go to class in my life.”

Outside of Brandeis, Krstansky is a member of the Actors Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. She is known for her work on “The Company Men” and the HBO miniseries, “Olive Kitteridge.” She has also performed in numerous off-Broadway productions.

Krstansky grew up watching her mother teach in the Chicago public school system. The experience had a deep impact on her and the way that she interacts with students. “What I grew up understanding is that teaching is an honor and a privilege—no matter the outer circumstances—what matters is the interaction in the classroom. My life is enhanced exponentially by the fact that I am lucky enough to spend my days on this campus in the company of young people who are curious, hard working, asking some tough questions and hungry to do something important in this world,” Krstansky said.

Daniel Breen is a professor in the legal studies and American studies departments at Brandeis. His students have called him “inspirational, enthusiastic and brilliant.” A nominator for the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching wrote that Breen is “lively and animated and has the unique ability to make any lecture and any piece of material interesting and engaging.”

Breen began lecturing at Brandeis as a part-time professor in 1998 and transitioned to full-time in 2015. “I’m deeply honored and humbled to receive this award, especially since it’s based in great measure on student evaluations. The fact that the award is named for Justice Brandeis also makes it extremely meaningful to me,” Breen wrote in an email to The Brandeis Hoot.

The Michael L. Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching went to its 35th recipient, Derron Wallace, assistant professor of education and sociology. A sociologist of race, ethnicity and education, Wallace has been a member of the faculty at Brandeis since 2014. Students nominating Wallace wrote that his “commitment and passion for teaching is made apparent through both his unwavering enthusiasm in the classroom and his mentorship of students outside of the classroom.”

Wallace specializes in cross-national studies of inequalities and identities in urban schools and neighborhoods. “As a scholar of race, ethnicity and education with a vested interest in public education, I am committed to creative and far-reaching pedagogical approaches that move beyond the traditional, didactic approaches to teaching and learning,” Wallace wrote in an email to The Hoot. “I strive to ensure that students from all backgrounds can animate their values in the classroom and ultimately in public life.”

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