Photo by Fatima Janneh | Staff Photographer
One of the most prestigious awards for current faculty members at Elizabethtown College is the Kreider Prize for Teaching. The Kreider Prize has been awarded for the past three years. Each year a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching and mentoring is selected to receive the Kreider Prize and present a lecture on a topic of his or her choice. This year, associate professor of music and Director of Instrumental Studies Dr. J. Robert Spence was chosen as the winner of the Kreider Prize.
In order to be nominated for this award, faculty must have been teaching at the College for at least three years and be working full time. Spence had to be nominated by not only students, but also other faculty and staff members, as well as alumni. The Professional Development Committee and two students chose the winner from the nominated faculty.
“I feel grateful and humbled to receive the Kreider Prize,” Spence said.
Both students who have had several classes with him and students who have only recently joined his classes noted Spence’s skills as an instructor and how he takes the time to make sure that students are understanding the material.
His care for his students and hope for them to succeed is clear in his manner of teaching.
“He is very enthusiastic, and you can tell he loves what he is doing,” first-year Emmett Ferree said. “He makes it fun and he is not afraid to break things down and explain the music. He’s kind and down-to-earth and easy to talk to. He will do anything he has to and will go out of his way to help his students. His class is really enjoyable.”
Spence teaches courses in a variety of musical instruments, such as woodwind, brass and percussion, in addition to courses on conducting and arranging music and instrumental music methods.
He is also a first-year seminar professor for a course in jazz music history. Spence also conducts the College’s Symphonic Band and the College-Community Orchestra and is involved with many committees in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. Under his direction, ensembles have performed at regional and national symposiums, as well as at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) state conference.
“His class is fun and informative,” senior Anna Speer said. “He is very well-spoken and careful with what he says, so when he says something you know that it is important.
“He has high expectations, which is good because he wants everyone to do their best and succeed. He cares about the well-being of his students, and I’m really grateful that he was my FYS professor.”
The title of his lecture is “Long Days, Short Years: A Teacher’s View from the Front (and Back) of the Classroom.” His lecture will take place Thursday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Susquehanna Room in Myer Hall. Although the lecture will be primarily aimed at education majors and faculty members who have recently started teaching at the College, it is sure to provide unique insights for anyone.
“My hope is that everyone attending the lecture will take away an opinion that being there was time well spent,” Spence said.
Although this award is significant, Spence’s career is far from over. He wants to continue to help his students reach new heights and accomplish their own goals and to improve on his own abilities.
“My future goals include the continued development of my professional, artistic and relationship-building skills and never running out of future goals,” Spence said.