English and creative writing professor Carolyn Holbrook has been selected to receive the 2014 Exemplary Teacher Award at Hamline University given by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Professor Holbrook was enthusiastically nominated by a staff member and student, and then was selected by a committee of United Methodist representatives.
Criteria for the award include excellence in teaching, civility, and concern for students and colleagues. Recipients must also have commitment to value-centered education, and service to students, the institution, and the community. The award comes with a letter of appreciation from the General Board, a certificate, and a monetary award of $500.
Professor Holbrook has been a professor since 1996, giving dedication and guidance to Hamline students.
One of her former students wrote to her, "Thank you for introducing me to creative nonfiction. Thank you for giving me the tools to find the voice that I had buried under pretentious hack-poetry...Thank you for giving me the courage to read my work in front of others, to believe in what I have written and to return to the craft after years of neglect. Thank you for entrusting me with the storyteller's acorn--that basic need to put it all down on paper--that I may one day climb on its branches."
Holbrook's teaching reaches beyond classroom walls. She helped organize a Poetry Slam on campus, supported educational opportunities such as the Mahle Lecture Book groups, developed journaling circles for students and staff to learn about writing a memoir, and collaborated with the Wesley Center's Imagine No Malaria gallery projects. Holbrook has been dedicated to being a leader in the writing community and to providing accessible education and mentorship. She holds a passionate belief that the arts should be accessible to everyone, not just the privileged few. This passion led to over 25 years of leadership in the field of literary arts administration. She created The Whittier Writers' Workshop, was program director at the Loft Literary Center, and founded SASE: The Write Place.
Staff member and Hamline alum Daniel Campbell wrote, "Carolyn not only taught me the fundamentals of writing, she taught me how to tap into my passion and potential as an author and how to give that back to the community. Her encouragement and guidance helped me decide to major in creative writing and pursue a master's degree in the field. To this day, she is still a mentor and a friend."
Photo by bfreshproductions and courtesy of Intermedia Arts