2022 Faculty Member of the Year
We all can recall at least one teacher who really made a difference in our lives. The teacher who got you interested in a topic despite your initial reluctance; who stayed late to help you understand a subject, or helped you find confidence in yourself.
Lisha Linder is one of those teachers—and, by example, she inspires her students to become those kinds of teachers too.
Linder has taught Early Childhood Education and Education courses at MCC for 22 years, and has served as the department chair for equally as long. Because of her outstanding accomplishments, she was recently recognized as MCC’s 2022 Full-Time Faculty Member of the Year. The award recipients, selected by peers, are chosen based on their commitment to teaching, contribution to the college community, and professional development.
“Lisha is beloved by her colleagues,” said Dr. Talia Koronkiewicz, Vice President of Student Affairs at MCC. “She is active on numerous committees throughout the College and is highly respected for her strong work ethic and her genuinely positive, kind demeanor. You will often find Lisha in the halls or classroom laughing and smiling with her students or her faculty peers. She brings a joyful spirit to MCC.”
In addition to her role as an educator, Linder serves as the director of the Children’s Learning Center (CLC) on MCC’s campus, which provides childcare and preschool programming for children of faculty, staff, students, and community members.
“I truly enjoy working and learning with my students who are preparing to enter the education field,” Linder said. “The excitement and passion of students is contagious.”
Lisha knew she wanted to become a teacher when she was just in first grade.
“I loved everything about school, especially my teacher,” she recalled. “I played school at home with my younger sister, and I always took on the role of the teacher. Throughout my school years, I paid close attention to my teachers, focusing on things they did that I liked and things that I thought could have been better. I think I have always been preparing myself to teach others.”
Linder went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and her Master’s in Teaching and Leadership from St. Xavier University.
Making a Difference at MCC
Linder’s teaching philosophy is based on the importance of building positive connections.
“When working with students of any age, everything is based on the foundation of relationships,” she said. “Students won’t be able to learn from you until they feel safe and comfortable in your presence. It’s your responsibility to create an environment in which this will happen.”
In her classes, Linder encourages her students to be actively engaged in discussions and activities.
“I do a lot of storytelling,” she said of her strategy. “Most of my lectures include stories as examples to illustrate the concepts being covered. I want students to engage with the course material, the other students, and with me.”
One of her favorite hands-on activities happens in her Children with Exceptionalities class.
“During one section of the course, students carry out debates about ethical issues as they relate to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” she said. “They prepare to debate both sides of the issue and are not told which side they will be assigned until they enter class on the day of the debate. This helps them develop a more well-rounded perspective, which is essential when you’re working with different groups of people from all kinds of backgrounds.”
Students in the Early Childhood Education program also work in the Children’s Learning Center (CLC) to gain experience working with children. As these students approach graduation, Linder shapes the final exam for the Early Childhood Practicum class in an interview format to give the students interview practice in addition to their hands-on experience working in the CLC.
Many of Linder’s former students are teachers, some in early childhood settings and others in K-12 settings. Her students have gone on to become directors of childcare centers/preschools, school principals, counselors, and school nurses.
“I hope that most of my students will go on to work in the education field in some capacity. I want them to be passionate about children, learning, and their own career choices. I hope that they will enjoy working with students as much as I do.”