Alumna Nathalie Mora said the support and nurturing environment in Holly Hungerford-Kresser’s classroom made an impact on her life.
“Teaching is something that they say anyone can do but not everyone should do,” Mora said. “If you’re teaching, you’re teaching because you have a heart for it and [Hungerford-Kresser] had a heart for it.”
In August, the UT System Board of Regents recognized the College of Education associate professor with the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.
The award is presented to UT educators who exemplify excellence, innovation and commitment to student success, according to the UT System website. Each recipient receives a certificate, a medallion and $25,000 for their impact on students and their institutions.
Teresa Taber Doughty, Dean of the College of Education, said Hungerford-Kresser’s dedication to her students and their success is obvious in her work.
“She works hard to ensure that her courses are not only rigorous but also interesting and engaging for her students,” Doughty said.
Hungerford-Kresser said her teaching is influenced by two things: being a former high school teacher and being a single mother of two. She said this helps her understand how much her students have to juggle in life.
“My class isn’t the only thing going on,” Hungerford-Kresser said. “I want to make sure that I’m compassionate but still hold them to rigorous standards.”
She said she cares about her students’ experience in higher education as well as the experience they give their students down the line.
“I try to think about what I need to instill in my students in higher ed so that they become the kind of K-12 teacher that I’m looking for for my child,” Hungerford-Kresser said. “If I would put my child in your classroom, that’s who I want to leave here.”
Mora said when the opportunity to write a letter of support for Hungerford-Kresser’s nomination came, she made sure to include her above and beyond nature.
“She helped us understand how important it was to truly impact each child in the way that we teach,” Mora said. “Her having that passion gravitated to us, and we wanted to go out and do the same thing.”
Hungerford-Kresser said she sees her teaching as a partnership between her and her students.
“It’s important for me to help you figure out how to succeed instead of my course being a place you sink or swim,” she said.
Mora said Hungerford-Kresser was a motivator and cheerleader to all her students.
She said she remembers having a hard time passing one of her tests for her teaching certification. By the fourth time, Mora said she began to rethink her choice in career.
However, with Hungerford-Kresser’s help, she was able to set up a plan for success.
“She was there, and she was just trying to help me get out of that mood of being defeated,” Mora said. “She never let me give up.”
Mora said she remembers Hungerford-Kresser’s presence at graduation.
“She made it a point to come and see us all right before we walked the stage,” Mora said. “That, I will be forever grateful for because she is one of the reasons I made it that far.”