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Lisa A. Runner receives Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching

BOONE—Lisa Adkins Runner, an associate professor in the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University, has received the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. Runner is one of 17 recipients representing North Carolina’s 16 public universities and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics who were nominated by special committees on their home campus to receive the award. Final selection was made by the Board of Governors’ Committee on Personnel and Tenure.

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Runner will receive a bronze medallion to wear at official university functions and a cash prize. The award will be presented to Runner by a Board of Governors member during the Hayes School of Music’s spring graduation ceremony in May.

The award “underscores the importance of teaching and encourages, identifies, recognizes, rewards and supports good teaching within the University,” according to the resolution that established the award.

“It is humbling and a great honor to receive an award dedicated to excellence in teaching,” said Runner, who has been a full-time member of the Hayes School of Music faculty since 2006. “I hope it represents the lives I have touched in a positive way and will provide me an opportunity to highlight the Hayes School of Music and its faculty.”

When Runner enrolled as an undergraduate at Milligan College, pursuing a teaching career in music was not on her mind, even though teaching was part of her family’s tradition. She is the daughter, niece and cousin of seven public school teachers.

As is often the case, the mentorship she received from one of her college professors changed Runner’s mind. “A professor took an interest in me and encouraged me to attend professional conferences and opened the door to a lot of opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I began to see that teaching would really be rewarding.”

Runner’s enthusiasm for teaching, from her time as an elementary general music teacher to college professor, continues to this day and she, in turn, is a mentor to students.
“I want my classes to be life lifting,” Runner said. “I want the experiences my students have and their time together to be positive.”

Her Music Methods for the Classroom Teacher courses are activity based. “There are times you have to cover or review material, but every day I want to include activities that engage my students, particularly as they prepare to become teachers themselves,” Runner said.

One day students might sit on the floor in a drum circle, learn to play instruments typically found in the elementary school classroom, or sing, move and create their own music. “They regularly collaborate with partners, work in small groups and participate in hands-on activities requiring analysis and reflection.” Runner said. “I value the learning that occurs during the creative process and work to maintain a supportive classroom environment where students are willing to step out of their comfort zone in order to try new things.”

Runner also teaches a general education class for non-music majors called Cultivating Creative Expression Through Music and revels encouraging a student’s interest in music.

“I believe that excellent teachers set their students up to succeed,” she wrote in her philosophy of teaching. “This doesn’t necessitate that assignments be simplified or expectations be lowered. Rather, information and skill development proceeds from simple to complex in logically sequenced small increments, laying a strong foundation for future assignments. Students are involved in relevant discussions and sample activities before being asked to complete individual or small group projects without instructor assistance.

A native of Chatham, Virginia, Runner holds degrees from Milligan College (B.A., music, education), East Tennessee State University (M.A., media services/instructional technology) and Appalachian State University (Ed.D. in educational leadership). She coordinates both the Silver Burdett/Pearson Summer Music Institute held on the Appalachian campus each summer and the Orff-Schulwerk certification program in the Hayes School of Music.

Runner is the faculty sponsor for the Appalachian chapter of the National Association for Music Education and also serves as the North Carolina collegiate advisor for the organization. She is the 2012 recipient of the School of Music’s Outstanding Teaching Award and recipient of the Student Government Association’s faculty appreciation award for the Hayes School of Music in 2003-04, 2011-12, and 2014-15.

Prior to coming to Appalachian, Runner taught at Milligan College and East Tennessee State University and spent seven years as an elementary school general music teacher in two public school systems in northeast Tennessee.

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