Making a difference: 11 faculty members recognized for inspiring students

Murray Krantz, Christina Celeste Williams and President John Thrasher.

Eleven Florida State University faculty members have been recognized by the Transformation Through Teaching program for going beyond the call of duty in the lives of their students.

The Transformation Through Teaching program was established by the Spiritual Life Project, which encourages professors to not only develop the students intellectually, but also help them find their purpose in life and encourage their dreams outside the classroom.

The Transformation Through Teaching award honors faculty members who made a truly impactful difference in a student’s life. Honorees are nominated by students.

Award winners were honored at a dinner at the President’s house Nov. 16.

“It’s clear that these professors have made a difference in the academic lives of their students,” President John Thrasher said. “More than that, though, the impact of these professors will last a lifetime.”

At the dinner, students shared their incredible stories about the award winners in order to inspire other educators to do the same for their students.

The 2015 Transformation Through Teaching Award winners are:

Transformation Through Teaching dinner.
Christina Celeste Williams and Murray Krantz

Murray Krantz, professor of Family and Child Sciences, was nominated by Christina Celeste Williams for supporting her goals and aspirations.

“Dr. Krantz once said something so simple that I needed to hear from someone other than my family members. His words stated ‘Thank you, you came to class every day and actually paid attention. This is what separates students — you have that drive, passion and smile that makes people want to work with you. Keep your head up and go through with your dreams because the kids will appreciate you just as I did.’ Those few sentences that he said meant so much to me.” — Christina Celeste Williams



Taylor Kocher and Katherine Mooney
Taylor Kocher and Katherine Mooney

Katherine Mooney, associate professor of history, was selected by Taylor Kocher for her support during Kocher’s research project.

“Dr. Mooney loves her work more than any other FSU faculty member I have met and knows how to make subject material appealing to students and easy to understand. I feel comfortable discussing the finer details of historical topics with her because I know she understands and identifies with me. In addition, she is more down-to-earth than any other professor I have had at FSU so far, which makes her that much more relatable.” — Taylor Kocher



Transformation Through Teaching dinner.
Danielle Wirsansky and Nathan Stoltzfus

Nathan Stoltzfus, also an associate professor of history, received his nomination because of his relentless encouragement of student Danielle Wirsansky.

Dr. Stoltzfus has taught me skills that I would not have learned in any other. Through his encouragement, I was able to present at research conferences, like the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference in 2014. I was also able to get an internship with the Holocaust Education Resource Council of the Big Bend in pursuit of encouraging and bettering Holocaust education.” — Danielle Wirsansky




Transformation Through Teaching dinner.
MaryKate Haley and Mari Kyle

MaryKate Haley, an associate professor of art, was selected by Mari Kyle for helping for prepare for her career, not just an exam.

“Having Haley on my committee throughout my Honors in the Major Program has been infinitely helpful in the pursuit of my career goals. Her guidance and advice has made me more precise and orientated. I can’t wait to begin work in the world that Haley has introduced to me, for I know that any academic or professional aspect she brings into my life is monumentally valuable and harnesses the potential to be life-altering.” — Mari Kyle



Transformation Through Teaching dinner.
Vanessa Dennen and Fabrizio Formara

Vanessa P. Dennen, associate professor of educational psychology, was nominated by both Ron Nakamoto and Fabrizio Fornara for teaching passion to her students.

“I can say that in all the years that I spent in academia, Dr. Dennen has been the most influent faculty member for me. She instilled in me a passion for research and helped me broaden my interest in the ID&T field. Thanks to her, I am now a more curious learner and an active and interdisciplinary scholar.” — Fabrizio Formara

“Dr. Dennen went beyond what I have experienced in the distance learning experience and truly made us feel like we were a part of the college and course. Her level of interaction and organization was well beyond the norm that I have experienced and really made learning great.” — Ron Nakamoto


Transformation Through Teaching dinner.
John Mayo and Laura Osteen

John Mayo, a faculty member in the College of Social Science and Public Policy, helped foster the identity of student Houra Mohammadi Amin.

“Dr. Mayo is a great mentor, supporter, and a distinguished professor who made a huge impact on my life in and outside the academia. Above all, it was through Dr. Mayo’s generous support and mentorship that I was able to pursue my graduate studies in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies and earn skills that will serve the education community following graduation.”  — Houra Mohammadi Amin



Transformation Through Teaching dinner.
Laura Clark and Melissa Gross

Melissa Gross, a professor in the School of Information, encouraged Laura Clark to pursue what she was passionate about.

“I want my research to facilitate advocacy for libraries and children. Dr. Gross has given me passion and purpose in this area. The research has been difficult to perform, but she has helped to give me tools that would allow me to accomplish this dream.” — Laura Clark




Transformation Through Teaching dinner.
Estee Hernandez and Kathy Guthrie

Kathy Guthrie, a professor of educational leadership and policy studies, engaged in intellectual conversation with Estee Hernandez even outside the classroom.

“The ways in which she challenges and affirms us as learners are approaches that I have implemented in my own classroom, too. I am thankful for Dr. Guthrie’s modeling of an educational pedagogy that interrupts conventional teaching practice.” — Estee Hernandez




New faculty member Mary Zeigler, College of Law.
Mary Ziegler

Assistant Professor of Law Mary Ziegler kept Max Solomon on the right track through law school.

“As I was preparing to drop out of law school, an arduous decision after all the preparation I did to get in, she sat me down in her office and discussed my interests and showed me how I could combine my passion for public interest and writing, while still maintaining a healthy life. After taking torts and family law with her, she helped me realize I have a bright future in employment litigation.” — Max Solomon




Transformation Through Teaching dinner.
Debra Osborn and Jacqueline Belle

Debra S. Osborn, an associate professor of psychological and counseling services, encouraged Jacqueline Belle through her doctoral program.

“Dr. Osborn provides a safe place to self-disclose, engendering a non-judgmental environment where I feel comfortable being vulnerable, a process necessary for reflection and growth. In comparison to previous interactions with other faculty, I knew that my feelings and overall health were genuinely respected and considered to be the most important factors in supporting my decision to switch programs.” — Jacqueline Belle



Transformation Through Teaching dinner.
Marcia Rosal and Ashley Hartman

Art Education Professor Marcia Rosal was nominated by Ashley Hartman for her friendly guidance through her education.

“Dr. Marcia Rosal has taken the time out of her schedule to meet with me during various times in my career when I needed advice, guidance, suggestions or emotional support. I was able to establish my purpose in my doctoral work, professional identity and develop valuable insight into my own personal life journey. This did not only help me realize my purpose in life, it allowed me to use this type of work with my clients in helping them to discover their own unique goals and purpose.” — Ashley Hartman

Transformation Through Teaching is a program established through the Spiritual Life Project, which fosters students’ search for meaning, purpose and authenticity in life, deepens their self-understanding, broadens their awareness of diverse perspectives and themselves as global citizens, and develops a sense of commitment to higher ideals.

For more information on the Transformation Through Teaching program, visit