MANHATTAN — Four Kansas State University faculty members are recipients of the 2023 Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award. The awardees are Kristin Anders, assistant professor of applied human sciences; Tonnie Martinez, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction; Tom Sarmiento, associate professor of English and affiliated faculty member of gender, women, and sexuality studies; and Jonathan Ulmer, professor of agricultural education. Each will receive a $3,000 honorarium from Commerce Bank and the W.T. Kemper Foundation in recognition of their excellence in undergraduate teaching. “Commerce Bank and the W.T. Kemper Foundation would like to give our most heartfelt congratulations to this year’s recipients,” said Shawn Drew, market president and CEO of Commerce Bank. “It was particularly special this year as we were able to surprise them in their classrooms with students and faculty cheering. We have been honored to recognize exceptional teaching at Kansas State University for 30 years, and we look forward to continuing this tradition for many years to come. We also thank Kansas State University for helping us continue this wonderful partnership.” Anders began her time at K-State in 2017 as a postdoctoral researcher and was hired into her current assistant professor position in the applied human sciences department in 2020. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the human development and family science program as well as the prevention science program, with a focus on Introduction to Human Sexuality, Adolescent and Emerging Adult Development, and Family Theories. She also works with undergraduate students outside of the classroom through multiple research teams, using the opportunity to mentor the students as they apply what they are learning in the classroom and through research to working in community settings. Additionally, Anders strives to mentor the next generation of human development and family science professionals, including future undergraduate instructors at K-State. She has supervised nine graduate teaching assistants within the applied human sciences department in the past two years. “The best thing about being an instructor is how much I learn from the students and the opportunities to connect with them,” said Anders. “I am continually inspired by their passion for the topics that I am teaching and their discussions of how they can apply what they are learning in their own lives and their future careers or communities. One of the greatest accomplishments I can think of is when students tell me the different ways they are using what we have learned in class and applying it to their real-world experiences and future careers.” Martinez serves as executive director of the Council for Public School Improvement and coordinator of the Office of Innovation and Collaboration in the College of Education. She joined K-State in 2004 and has taught several English as a Second Language courses as well as Teaching as a Career, Foundations of Education, Interpersonal Relationships in Schools and Teaching in a Multicultural Society. Her research includes teacher readiness for accommodating English learners, equity and access for all learners, and the impact of COVID-19 on pre-service and in-service teachers. Martinez serves as a co-principal investigator on a multi-million-dollar research study for the U.S. Department of Education on place-bound students and a state-funded research project for the Kansas Board of Regents to support student teachers in rural schools. Her service to education includes Kansas State Department of Education Standards writing teams, and she is currently the co-chair for the Kansas State Department of Education Evaluation Review Committee. “It’s an honor to be recognized for doing what I dearly love, teaching,” said Martinez. “Our college has incredible leadership, and our faculty truly enjoy what we do. Teaching is the profession on which all other professions depend. It is very fulfilling to be a part of the research, growth and innovation in our profession happening here at Kansas State University.” Sarmiento, who uses the pronoun they, joined K-State as a visiting lecturer in 2014 and became a tenured associate professor of English in 2021. They served as director of the master’s graduate track in cultural studies in 2021–22 and will serve as director of undergraduate studies starting in fall 2023 for the Department of English. Sarmiento specialize in Asian American and diasporic U.S. Filipinx literature and visual media, queer-feminist theories, and cultural representations of the U.S. Midwest. They teach courses on Asian American literature and visual media, Midwestern literature and culture, film adaptation, queer cinema, television, feminist-queer theories and expository writing. Sarmiento is a visiting faculty fellow for 2022-23 at the Suzy Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where they are completing their first book manuscript, “The Heartland of US Empire: Race, Region, and the Queer Filipinx Midwest.” Their research appears in several journals and edited collections, including Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature and Culture, Q & A: Voices from Queer Asian North America, and Sparked: George Floyd, Racism, and the Progressive Illusion. Sarmiento received the 2019 Student Association of Graduates in English Graduate Faculty Distinguished Service Award and the 2022 Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Department of English as well as the 2022 William L. Stamey Award for Undergraduate Teaching from the College of Arts and Sciences. “I’m humbled by this honor and grateful to the students, colleagues, administrators and sponsors for this recognition,” said Sarmiento. “I decided to become a university professor to teach and inspire as well as to learn from young minds who will change and are already changing our society and culture to be more inclusive and just for the historically marginalized because knowledge is power. Thank you for supporting my work!” Ulmer specializes in agricultural education in the department of communications and agricultural education. He joined the faculty at K-State in 2016, and he teaches a variety of classes preparing students for careers as high school agriculture teachers. His courses include Agricultural Mechanics, Philosophy, FFA Management and the Profession of Agricultural Education. He advises both undergraduate and graduate students and teaches a data analysis course at the graduate level through the Great Plains Ag IDEA Consortium. He has served the profession on various boards, committees and areas of service. Under his leadership, the agricultural education program at K-State was recognized as the outstanding postsecondary agricultural education program in the region by the National Association of Agricultural Educators, or NAAE. Ulmer has published 17 referred journal articles, 21 referred national conference papers, 27 referred regional conference papers and five referred international conference papers. Ulmer received the Distinguished Agricultural Teacher Educator Award from the American Association for Agricultural Education North Central Regions. “As a teacher of teachers I feel like my teaching is always being watched, and to be nominated for this award makes me feel like I am showing them good instruction,” said Ulmer. “I love to teach, so to be recognized for my teaching is a top honor for me!”
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