It was about five years ago, toward the end of her master’s degree program in educational administration and supervision at BGSU, that Angela Miller met Dr. Patrick Pauken.
Pauken, educational administration and leadership studies, would be teaching her “Law, Ethics and Negotiations” class, and Miller’s first thought was “Who is this guy?”
He was, as it turned out, an educator instrumental in Miller’s current pursuit of a doctorate at BGSU and so influential that she nominated him for the national honor he received Dec. 3—the Mensa Education & Research Foundation’s Distinguished Teacher Award.
Pauken, a 10-year Bowling Green faculty member, is the lone winner of the 2007 award, which was presented by members of Maumee Valley Mensa during a meeting of BGSU School of Leadership and Policy Studies faculty. The award carries a $500 cash prize, which Pauken said will go toward “a niece and nephew who deserve a little extra shopping” for Christmas.
The honor “recognizes a teacher, professor or instructor at any educational level who has had an especially positive influence on the education or life of a Mensa member,” according to American Mensa. The only qualification for membership in the international society is a score in the top 2 percent of the general population on an approved standardized intelligence test.
Miller, a rural Tiffin resident and fifth-grade teacher in Upper Sandusky, has been a member of East Central Ohio Mensa for about seven years. In the nominating essay on which Pauken’s selection was based, she described how he energized her interest in that first summer class in which they were teacher and student.
“Over the course of the semester, Dr. Pauken challenged me more than any other educator and helped fuel my passion for knowledge, reinvigorate my interest in law, and strengthen my intellectual confidence,” wrote Miller, who went on to earn her master’s degree in August 2003.
“Not only was his intellect unparalleled, so were his expectations. I gave what I thought was my best, and he would demand more. Because of his persistence, I produced work of a quality I didn’t realize I possessed. The end of the semester came, but it was only the beginning of his tremendous influence.”
Pauken is also graduate coordinator of BGSU’s doctoral program in leadership studies, in which Miller is now pursuing a doctor of education degree. He is serving as advisor for her Ed.D. program, which is focused, she explained, on the ethics of trying to balance the education of special education students with that of regular education students.
She worked at a summer camp for children with multiple handicaps while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Ohio State University, then taught special education for two years at the beginning of her career in Upper Sandusky. Now, she noted, she would like to work with regular education teachers on the best way to educate special education students in regular classrooms.
She has also taken courses in special education law and moral and ethical leadership from Pauken as part of her doctoral program. “He encourages debate, and just because it’s not his point of view doesn’t mean it’s not worth discussing or keeping an open mind toward,” she said. “He epitomizes what a scholar should be.”
In addition, Miller pointed out what she called their “really good rapport,” an assessment with which Pauken concurred.
“It’s always been healthy banter,” he agreed, saying that education is more than just teaching and learning, but also about relationships between teachers and students. The intellectual challenges posed by students such as Miller are often more rewarding than those that teachers can offer their students, he added.
“To be recognized in any form by students is an honor,” said Pauken, expressing his appreciation for “the confirmation that the work I put in has positive impact.” Learning he had won the award was both surprising and “thrilling,” he said. “It really does mean a lot.”
The honor is not the first for Pauken, who is the current chair of BGSU’s Faculty Senate and received its Distinguished Service Award last year. Also the holder of a law degree from OSU, he has a record of service to the University, the College of Education and Human Development, the School of Leadership and Policy Studies, and the educational administration and leadership studies programs.