Professor Receives Teacher of the Year Award

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Toby Emert, associate professor of education at Agnes Scott College, has been selected as the Teacher of the Year, an award presented by the Georgia Council of Teachers of English, an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English. Toby Emert

Emert was recognized for his innovative approach to designing instruction for his English education classes and for his oversight of the Department of Education’s summer literacy program for the Fugees, a group of students—age 8 to 19—whose families are refugees from more than 25 countries, including Sudan, Liberia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Cuba, Bosnia and Iraq. Emert first partnered with the Fugees in the summer of 2009, at the suggestion of one of his recent Master of Arts in Teaching English graduates. The summer of 2011 marks the fourth year for the program, in which several of Emert’s former students teach.

“I see my approach to preparing future English teachers as much more than providing students a repertoire of specific strategies, theoretical positions and posited ‘best practices.’  I want my classroom to be a dynamic environment in which there is a constant sense of interrogation—a landscape marked by deep questions, problem-posing and hypothesizing, designed to support the efforts of creating imaginative, engaging and high-functioning learning spaces,” Emert said.

“As a graduate student in Dr. Emert’s classroom, I found myself in something that felt very much like a lab,” said Samantha Swaney, a 2007 graduate of the M.A.T. program who is now a ninth grade English teacher in Rockdale County. “Dr. Emert established a sense of community that fostered extensive experimentation, which was vital for us as future educators.”

Emert also was selected last year as a Governor’s Teaching Fellow, a program jointly sponsored by the Institute of Higher Education and the Center for Teaching and Learning at The University of Georgia.

Emert’s academic interests include English education, 21st-century literacies and arts-based pedagogies. His current research projects focus on multicultural perspectives on educational theory and practice, especially on issues of oppression and lack of access to exemplary schooling. He teaches courses on integrating the arts in education, technology as an instructional medium, writing instruction and children’s and young adult literature.

Emert earned his B.A. in English from Longwood College, his M.Ed. in educational administration from The College of William and Mary, his M.A. in English (with an emphasis on creative writing) from University of Tennessee and his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction (with an emphasis on English education) from the University of Virginia.

The Georgia Council of Teachers of English is a nonprofit organization made up primarily of teachers of English, reading and literacy at all levels. Their aim is the improvement of the teaching and learning of English and language arts in Georgia's elementary, middle and secondary schools and colleges and universities.

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.