Dr. Tracy Rock, Department of Reading and Elementary Education, is the 2014 recipient of the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, one of the University’s most prestigious honors for faculty members.
The announcement was made at a reception and awards ceremony Friday, September 5, 2014, at Bank of America’s Founder’s Hall. Rock and her fellow award finalists, Dr. Anita Blowers, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology; Dr. Jonathan Crane, Department of Communication Studies; Dr. Fumie Kato, Department of Languages and Culture Studies; and Dr. Debra C. Smith, Department of Africana Studies, were honored for their commitment to teaching excellence.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from UNC Charlotte, Rock completed a master’s and Ph.D. from UNC Greensboro. She joined the College of Education’s Department of Reading and Elementary Education in 2000, and during her University tenure, Rock has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to her students and her profession.
According to Rock, getting to know her students is key to their success. She wants to know: What are students interested in learning? How are their experiences related to the course material? What challenges do they face? She gathers this information at the beginning of every course taught and uses student answers to guide her through the semester.
As a teacher, Rock mentors her students and colleagues. A recent graduate attested that Rock “went above and beyond to help students learn, grow and excel in her class. She modeled great teaching practices for us to follow in our own future classrooms. She provided specific and helpful feedback on how to grow as a future educator.”
Drew Polly, a departmental colleague, said Rock “epitomizes rigorous, relevant and engaging instruction. Her social studies methods course provides our students with sound content, effective pedagogies and ideas on integrating a subject that is often ignored in our area school districts.”
Beyond teaching, Rock has proven to be a dedicated leader and an experiential learning advocate. At the departmental level, she led efforts in the elementary education program to revise the structure of the early clinical experiences, such that teacher candidates are now placed in partner schools for a two-week intensive experience in their second semester of the four-semester preparation program. As a result of these efforts, early clinical experiences are now more intentional, structured and integrated with the curriculum.