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Yezbick Named Forest Park Teacher of the Year
April 08, 2014
Dan Yezbick recently was named Forest Park's Teacher of the Year.
Dan Yezbick, an associate professor of English at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park, emphasizes that language is the key to global understanding, and builds writing lessons around socially conscious texts to make students realize they can improve the world around us.
“I have always believed that language is our best chance at understanding each other in healthy, peaceful and productive ways,” said Yezbick, who was recently honored as Forest Park’s Teacher of the Year. “Whether we speak in signs, sounds or images, the more ways we share information about how we feel or what we know, the better we can become and the more we can work together to enhance and improve the world around us<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = "O" />."
To that end, Yezbick uses such evocative works as “The Laramie Project,” “Angels in America” and “The Vagina Monologues”; energetic multimedia works like Craig Thompson's “Blankets” and John Lewis' “March”; and such recent topical studies as Alan Sepinwall's “The Revolution was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever.”
Yezbick acknowledged that the campus’ diverse student body is what drives him.
“Teaching English here is special because it is essential. It’s a fundamental need that our students have to want to learn in order to progress personally and compete professionally,” he said.
Going the Extra Mile
On the faculty since 2007, Yezbick was chosen by peers and students for this annual award for not only his teaching excellence, but also as the global education coordinator, his scholarly work and work in the community.
Forest Park President Cindy Hess, who interrupted his 8 a.m. class to make the announcement, read from the committee's recommendation: "Going the extra mile for students is an everyday thing for Dr. Yezbick. This was evident in reviewing his student evaluations and the multitude of letters of appreciation from his students. Yezbick has also made lasting contributions to his department and the campus as a whole, especially through his transformative leadership of the Global Education Committee. He has become an invaluable part of what we do here at Forest Park and he clearly deserves the Teacher of the Year Award."
An enthusiastic champion for the local community college system, he praises the dedication of his coworkers.
“I always tell my colleagues at other schools that I have never worked with better people. Our entire division shines with a professionalism and a commitment to student learning that is truly rare in my experience,” he said. “This is partially because of Forest Park's unique Bouillabaisse of student backgrounds, ethnicities, languages and experiences. We are much more aware of the drastic need our students have for our services and expertise. I think we see more lives, perspectives, and opportunities change more deeply and dramatically every day in every class at Forest Park than in any other learning environment I have known.”
He has worked on adapting English instruction to specialized curriculums, including hospitality and culinary students, and enjoys the interdisciplinary teaching that merges English composition with science and tech classes. He hopes to develop a new English 101 curriculum tailored to students in the fine and performing arts.
“I look forward to this new opportunity to accommodate another community of students whose interests and talents can be greatly enhanced through specialized exercises in critical analysis, college research and dynamic professional writing,” he said.
Window to the World
Yezbick’s interest in global education was fostered by his desire to travel, but hampered by the realities of being a student with limited means. Scholarships were his window to the world, and he was grateful for the opportunity to visit England and France as a college student.
“Later, I was able to teach English and theater in England, and that experience was truly essential to why I am so honored and thrilled to help coordinate global education at Forest Park,” he said. “They were life-changing trips, and I know what it means to those who don’t have or can’t afford a comprehensive view of the world’s complexity to finally experience it firsthand.”
To give others a taste of those experiences, Yezbick said organizations on campus, as well as community partners such as the St. Louis Language Immersion School, Missouri Botanical Garden and Washington University, play a key role.
“Our International Education Committee thrives on such initiatives,” he said. “These guiding faculty and staff know how much it means to each student, class, and community we serve to emphasize the differences, backgrounds and interconnected dimensions of our lives. When great people collaborate on good projects that they we all believe in, everybody wins.”
Yezbick also had another milestone achievement this year. His oversized 320-page art book, “Perfect Nonsense: the Chaotic Comics and Goofy Games of George Carlson,” was published March 4 by Fantagraphics Books.
Yezbick grew up in Detroit and earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Michigan and his master’s degree and doctorate from University of Illinois. He and his wife Rosalie, who is also an accomplished teacher at American Public University, and their two children, live in St. Louis City.