Brigitte Morin's parents are educators, so it is not surprising that she became a teacher herself. In fact, she's become a very good one.
Morin knew she wanted to teach since she was a kid. It was in her blood she says. “Both my parents were educators—my mother was a first-grade teacher and my father taught high school English and French.” Morin is the recipient of Michigan Technological University’s 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award in the Assistant Professor/Lecturer/Professor of Practice category.
Morin, a 2006 Michigan Tech alumna with a biology major and a Spanish minor, started her career teaching high school biology and horticulture in Huntley, Illinois. During her six-year tenure there, her courses expanded to include anatomy, physiology and AP biology. In 2011, she earned a master’s in biological sciences with a focus on biology education from Northern Illinois University. “I was fortunate because this program was designed specifically for high school teachers and allowed us to take many content and pedagogy courses around our busy schedules,” Morin says. “My research examined whether or not the incorporation of scientific literature in the classroom motivated students to read more outside of school. Spoiler alert–it did not.”
Great to be back home
After six years in the suburbs, Morin says she was “ready to come home.” In 2012, she was offered a temporary position in Tech's biological sciences department, teaching a handful of medical lab sciences and general biology courses. After the retirement of Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Director Alice Solden in 2013, Morin became a lecturer in the department. Since then, she has taught a wide variety of courses including medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology II, human nutrition, current health issues, basic medical lab techniques, clinical immunology and serology and medical parasitology.
Morin, who was recently promoted to senior lecturer, developed a new course, the Biology of Movement and Meditation, which she says teaches students, "not only the science behind meditation and yoga, but also techniques they can use to help them survive the crazy college years.”
Morin teaches several hundred students each semester and almost all of them rave about her teaching. At the top of their list is her enthusiasm. As Bruce Seely, former dean of the College of Sciences and Arts says, “Brigitte's infectious enthusiasm is apparent to everyone who knows her and there is no surprise she has received this recognition. She clearly loves teaching—and her students know it.”
Her use of humor and clarity are also common themes, but her willingness to challenge students, while at the same time showing compassion, is especially praised. In one student’s words, “I couldn't have asked for a better teacher than Brigitte. She realizes the importance of good grades, but she looks deeper than that. She challenges us, but makes it manageable. She cares about our well-being, not just our scores. She makes an impact.”
Large class? No problem.
Chandreshekar Joshi, chair of biological sciences, carries high praise for Morin, indicating her teaching is not only excellent, but has also helped spread best practices within the department. Joshi says, “Brigitte does an excellent job engaging students, but what impresses me most is her successful effort of flipping a huge classroom with more than 100 students. Brigitte is teaching us how to successfully implement active learning. It is a pure delight to see how easily she does a Herculean job.”
Morin’s unbridled love for both teaching and Michigan Tech is apparent. She says “At Michigan Tech, I’m spoiled. I’ve got fantastic students, a supportive department and a University that values teaching and what I do. Being here has fueled my passion for education and for connecting with students. Never once has my commitment to teaching waivered. Every once in awhile, I think, ‘Should I get a PhD? Move into research?,' and my answer never changes. No, my place is in the classroom with my students. That’s where I find the most joy and excitement each and every day.”
Morin will receive a $2,500 monetary award and a plaque at an awards dinner sponsored by the president’s office in the fall. Richelle Winkler, an associate professor in Michigan Tech’s social sciences department is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Teaching Award in the Associate Professor/Professor category.
Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.