So many Fort Lewis College professors not only have impressive educational credentials, but also a wealth of life experiences that color and inform their teaching. For Dr. Emily Houghton, assistant professor of exercise science, sports was the path that led her to what she has become today, including the 2017-18 winner of the FLC New Faculty Teaching Award.
She was a collegiate soccer player at her undergraduate institution in upstate New York. Her role as a teacher began, not as a professor in a traditional setting, but as a teacher/mentor with the AmeriCorps’ Athletes in Service program in Chicago.
“There were ten of us who ran an afterschool program in four elementary schools (two that had primarily Hispanic students and one each with primarily white and African American students) called Athletes Committed to Educating Students. The program focused on helping students with reading, writing and math using sport as the catalyst for practicing those skills.”
The experience of seeing students and teachers living in challenging circumstances without the resources and opportunities that so many of us enjoy was eye-opening for Dr. Houghton. After the AmeriCorps program, she earned two master’s degrees—while coaching soccer—and a Ph.D. as her interest in the issues around teaching and diversity in sports continued to grow.
Now at Fort Lewis College, her drive to work with her students to help them and the College succeed goes beyond the classroom. One example is the race she helps her students organize every year.
“My Administration of Programs in Exercise Science class puts on a 10k/5k race in which the students play a major role. I always get a little stressed about the outcome,” she explains, “but in the five years that we have administered the event students have consistently exceeded my expectations in terms of handling the tasks they are assigned and seeking out additional assignments to help the race become a successful annual event.”
“In my five years at Fort Lewis College, I have met a lot of faculty members who are exceptional teachers and mentors,” Dr. Houghton says. “I recognize that my nomination stemmed from my departmental peers and I am really appreciative of the support I have received from them and also colleagues outside the Exercise Science Department. I feel really fortunate and honored to win the New Faculty Teaching Award because, to me, it means that my colleagues and students respect and appreciate the work that I do.”