Third time’s a charm

Shechtman wins third PHHP Teacher of the Year award

By Brittany Valencic
Dr. Orit Shechtman with Emily Maltby, Emily Szafranski and Zari Whittaker, 2015 graduates of the college’s bachelor’s in health science, pre-OT track.

Dr. Orit Shechtman with Emily Maltby, Emily Szafranski and Zari Whittaker, 2015 graduates of the college’s bachelor’s in health science, pre-OT track.

Amid an office brimming with books on the human body, there is a wall filled with shiny plaques honoring her achievements. Now, Orit Shechtman, Ph.D., OTR/L, an associate professor in the department of occupational therapy, can add another plaque to her collection.

Shechtman was named the College of Public Health and Health Professions’ 2016 Teacher of the Year, an honor she received after the students in her classes worked together to nominate her.

“It feels great because I was nominated by my students,” said Shechtman, whose previous teaching awards include the college’s Teacher of the Year in 2006 and Teacher of the Year at both the college and university levels in 1998. “It feels really good, especially when I saw the letter and it’s not just one student, but the whole class. It is just a wonderful feeling.”

Shechtman teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in the Master of Occupational Therapy program, the Rehabilitation Science doctoral program and the Bachelor of Health Science program. Her award for undergraduate teaching is especially notable since the classes she teaches at that level — anatomy, neuroscience and pathophysiology — are the BHS program’s most demanding.

“I have a lot of enthusiasm for the subject and I love teaching about the human body and how it works,” said Shechtman, who sometimes will spend hours making an animation, such as flowcharts of basal ganglia functions, for one of her lectures. “I really try to make it real; I give lots of real world examples, and I attempt to make it interesting as I explain what happens in the body.”

She focuses on trying to make learning for her students active, requiring them to think, rather than just listen. This helps them understand the material instead of just memorizing it, which is also important, she said. But her active learning doesn’t only apply to her students.

“The reason I don’t get bored teaching the same courses over and over again is because I try to continually reinvent myself as a teacher,” she said. “There is so much new information out there and I am always trying to keep current and keep my own brain going.”

 

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