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K-State Today

May 7, 2024

Pesnell named recipient of Michael C. Holen Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award

Submitted by Patrice Scott

Beth Pesnell

Beth Pesnell, teaching assistant professor in the department of curriculum and instruction, is the recipient of the College of Education's prestigious Michael C. Holen Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award.   

Pesnell specializes in STEM education and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses — including in the Master of Arts in Teaching-elementary education program. Additionally, she advises doctoral students and supervises students in their field placements.   

"I am truly humbled by this recognition and pledge to continue striving for excellence in graduate education, pushing boundaries, and innovating to enhance the learning experience for all," Pesnell said.   

Before joining K-State, Pesnell dedicated 25 years to various educational roles in Texas and Arkansas, including teaching K-5 grades, serving as an English as a second language specialist, and acting as a math and science curriculum specialist. Her district-level work involved coordinating curriculum and professional development across pre-K through eighth-grade levels.   

While pursuing her doctorate at the University of Arkansas, she shifted to a national consulting role, supporting educators through the National Institute for STEM Education and the National Science Teaching Association.  

"Throughout my journey as an educator, I have strived to cultivate learning environments that value inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration," she said. "Creating collaborative learning environments, establishing connections, and fostering camaraderie is challenging, especially in online teaching contexts. It requires creative and innovative strategies to engage learners and support them in achieving their full potential."  

Pesnell is committed to elevating science instruction in elementary classrooms. She leverages her extensive experience to advance teacher professional development and nurture teacher candidates for today's diverse educational needs.   

When not in the classroom, Pesnell serves as an associate editor for Science and Children, the National Science Teaching Association's peer-reviewed journal, and actively contributes to the conversation on effective teaching strategies in STEM fields.   

Her research and presentations at educational conferences focus on topics such as integrated instruction, reflective teaching, and professional development with the goal of preparing teacher candidates to be critical thinkers and problem-solvers for their future classrooms and students.