AHS teacher recognized for education ethics

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2001

Teachers often are called the unsung heroes of our society.

Thursday, March 22, 2001

Teachers often are called the unsung heroes of our society. Underpaid and overworked, with rising concerns about student safety and apathy, the fact that a teacher can accomplish his or her job and yet rise above the crowd to receive recognition of any kind is astounding.

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The Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation applauded Austin High School Spanish teacher Barbara Judd late last year by presenting her with the Ethics in Education Teacher Award. Judd was treated to a dinner, a plaque and a monetary award at the event.

Judd was nominated for the award by former AHS Principal Julia Espe in September. In nominating Judd, Espe wrote:

"It is too easy for educators to ‘turn their heads,’ ignoring values issues. Whether it is ignoring a student cheating, or ‘not hearing’ a racial slur, or allowing standards in expectations to be lowered by not upholding them – too many of us take the easy road, and pretend that everything is fine. This is certainly not the case with Barbara. She does not look the other way."

Espe went on to describe several incidents that displayed Judd’s ability to uphold ethical standards in the classroom. In one instance, Judd asked her Spanish students to translate a passage of text. When the students turned the assignment in, she noticed several of the translations came from the Internet and not from the students’ own work.

Instead of marking the assignments in question with a failing grade, Espe started a discussion about the ethical implications of copying someone else’s work. She then gave each student the opportunity to redo the assignment themselves and turn it in for a grade.

After Espe nominated her, three recommendations from students were submitted to the foundation. In addition, she included her resume and wrote an essay about how she, as a teacher, interprets and portrays ethics in a school environment, and how she shares these thoughts with students and colleagues.

Besides teaching at AHS, Judd teaches Spanish at Riverland Community College in the evenings. She has been involved with activities aimed at English as a second language students, including a Valentine’s Day party and an upcoming gathering for Cinco de Mayo – a Mexican-American celebration.

"It’s a way of making students feel they’re more a part of the school," Judd said.

Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Judd has taught at AHS for four years. Prior to coming to the area, she taught at NRHEG – New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva.

She was informed in November that she had won the award. When a representative told her she would be receiving $10,000 as part of the award, she said, "There was complete silence and I remember he said, ‘Are you still there?’"

"I said I was in shock and he said, ‘Don’t you read the fine print?" Judd said, before laughing.

Judd plans to award a student in the world language department with an honor in the spring, from some of the money she was awarded. She said she wants to use the money for special things, but right now it is in the bank.

"Teachers work so hard, and they do so many things that do not get noticed, this is like a ray of light," Judd said of the award. She added that the award recognizes the school as well as the teacher. "No one works alone," she said, stressing that many people help her in her job everyday.

Because of the award, Judd has been asked to make a presentation in a state language conference next fall. Judd is not only a Spanish teacher, but is involved in many activities, including being the department chairwoman for the world language department at AHS and the National Honor Society adviser.

"This is good for everybody," she said, of her fellow staff and her student, "and everybody is happy about it."