Lander University’s Laura Martin wins Moore Award for Excellence in General Education Teaching
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Laura MartinLander University is best known by its stakeholders as a community of consistent encouragement and support for those who choose to continue their education at Lander. Its faculty routinely opt to use open source texts to help keep the cost of individual courses low, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, its dedicated team of employees took the time to reach out to each and every student who struggled with the transition to online learning. Assistant Professor Laura Martin, the 2021 recipient of Lander’s Moore Award for Excellence in General Education Teaching, says being a community of encouragement for students is what she loves most about Lander. “There’s a lot of effort put into helping our students succeed,” said Martin.

The University’s commitment to student success intersects with Martin’s own passion for student success. Martin believes that a classroom is a place for students to express and explore their thoughts and values, emphasizing that academia is not only a place for “learning skills and following guidelines,” but also “a place where [students] can develop their own aesthetic and focus on what they find meaningful and beautiful.”

“I want my students to feel comfortable and authentic,” said Martin. “I want them to make choices, not just complete assignments or learn techniques.”

It’s because of Martin’s dedication to students’ personal and professional growth that the University chose Laura Martin as this year’s recipient of the Moore Award for Excellence in General Education Teaching, given annually to a member of Lander’s faculty who embodies the same commitment to general education as its namesake, Dr. John Moore, professor of philosophy at Lander. Martin’s colleagues roundly agree she is a worthy recipient of this high honor.

“Laura Martin is a kind and loving professor who encourages her students to consider other perspectives while helping them become better adults both through English and personal life skills,” wrote one of her colleagues in nomination of Martin for the award. “She’s brilliant and works unbelievably hard to ensure the success of all of her students.”

Dr. Lillian Craton, professor of English and director of Lander’s Honors College, added, “[Martin’s] classes are about asking questions rather than providing simple answers. Our writing class titles often include the word ‘inquiry,’ but sometimes we all get bogged down in technical aspects of writing. Laura keeps the focus on the inquiry itself: she answers questions with encouragement and more questions, and her students feel like it’s their ideas, rather than her ideas, that ultimately matter.”

In addition to her teaching, Martin actively engages with students, as well as her fellow members of faculty and staff, outside of the classroom. She has served as a member of Lander’s Diversity Advisory Council, and as a member of Leaders on Understanding Diversity (LOUD), a committee which advises Lander’s Division of Student Affairs on ways to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in student life. In the spring 2021 semester, she led a creative writing session as part of Lander’s Race and Identity Dialogue, an event series supported by funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities through a grant from South Carolina Humanities. Martin described the experience as “very rewarding.”

In her personal life, Martin is also an accomplished writer. Her personal essay, “A Wretch Like Me,” was published in the summer 2020 issue of MARY: A Journal of New Writing. Additionally, her essay, “Dead Horse Bay,” was a semi-finalist for the Brooklyn Nonfiction Prize, and published by Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.

Yet, Martin insists that some of the most memorable and rewarding experiences have been collaborating with fellow English professor, Dr. James Anderson, to develop English Composition courses, as well as working with Lander’s students on their creative writing. In the spring 2021 semester, Martin taught a creative writing course “that was just amazing,” she said. “My students were so creative and daring and really supported each other. Almost every day in that class was a memorable experience.”

Martin isn’t just a positive influence for her students, however. Colleagues, like Anderson, say they greatly appreciate her welcoming, cooperative approach to her work within Lander’s Department of English and Foreign Languages. “It’s great to have colleagues like her that are open to collaboration and reflective teaching practices,” said Anderson. “I’ve grown as a teacher through working with Laura.”