Brittney Gehrig, a Lecturer of French in the Department of World Languages, was recently awarded a GEM Innovative Educator Award by the Idaho State Board of Education. The award was presented at a GEM Conference ceremony Oct. 13.
All seven of Idaho’s higher education institutions nominated general education instructors for the awards. Gehrig was Boise State’s 2023 nominee in the Humanistic and Artistic Ways of Knowing category and the university’s only state-wide winner. She was recognized as exemplary among a group of talented arts and humanities instructors from across the state.
At the award ceremony, Gehrig was described as “dedicated to helping students develop transferable linguistic competencies, curious and open attitudes toward other cultures, and the skills they need to succeed in college.” She was not only recognized for the thoughtful design and delivery of her own courses, but for her support of other French instructors through collaborative work on widely disseminated Open Educational Resource (OER) materials.
The “Français inclusif” OER pressbook she helped create and publicize has been used by Boise State concurrent enrollment instructors, an Idaho community of French teachers, students and alumni from Gehrig’s graduate school Alma Mater (Middlebury College), and dozens of other French instructors across the United States. During her award acceptance speech, Gehrig highlighted the ways in which the pressbook provides students with opportunities to interact with the many cultures, practices and perspectives of the Francophone world through authentic assessment, assignments and reflections.
Of her teaching philosophy, Gehrig said:
“I focus on community building in many forms. First and foremost, I make sure students feel understood, included and represented in the OER materials created for and used in class. Research shows that students are more likely to ‘buy in’ and experience success if they feel they are heard, recognized and considered throughout the learning process. It is important to me that a student not get lost in the crowd, but feel acknowledgement and acceptance from their instructor and fellow students. I make myself available for office hours, group tutoring sessions, and club activities so students know that their instructor is not out of reach. As a first-generation college student myself, I know how important it is to know that faculty are rooting for you.”