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Martinette Horner, Wonkyung Jang win University Teaching Awards

Faculty member Martinette Horner and graduate teaching assistant Wonkyung “Won” Jang are among 25 at UNC-Chapel Hill who have been honored with 2021 University Teaching Awards.

Horner was named as one of four winners of a Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction. Jang was one of five to win a 2021 Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by Graduate Teaching Assistants.

The awards are given annually to acknowledge the University’s commitment to outstanding teaching and mentoring for graduate and undergraduate students.

Martinette Horner
is a clinical assistant professor and program coordinator of the Master of School Administration program, a program that prepares educators for leadership positions in schools and school systems.

Martinette Horner

Horner earned her bachelor’s degree at the School of Education as a Teaching Fellow, also later earning her Ed.D. degree from the School.

She started her career teaching third and fourth grades in Orange County Schools, where she taught for eight years during which she earned the distinction of National Board Certified Teacher as a Middle Childhood Generalist. She also has served as an assistant principal and as a principal. While earning a master’s degree at UNC-Greensboro as a N.C. Principal Fellow, she served as a district mentor for beginning teachers and supported students in a Title I school as a literacy tutor.

Horner joined the School of Education in 2010 as the School’s first P-12 Distinguished Educator in the School of Education, a role in which she directed the school’s outreach initiative, the Research Triangle Schools Partnership. She continues to serve as a regional director of the N.C. New Teacher Support program.

Assistant Dean for Educator Preparation and Accreditation Diana Lys, praised Horner in a nomination for the award for incorporating improvement science principles and practices in her courses for school leaders.

“Dr. Horner provides real-world learning opportunities for MSA candidates to identify “change projects” in their internship sites,” Lys said. “Then, using improvement cycles, students work to implement and study the change. … She moves improvement science from an abstract idea to concrete set of tools for school leaders to employ as they seek to transform their schools.”

Lys also cited Horner’s efforts to incorporate awareness of equity and access issues in her courses.

“Further, by having MSA candidates focus their projects on issues of equity, Dr. Horner helps to expose systemic injustices in our schools and then provides tools to dismantle them,” Lys said. “Dr. Horner is preparing school leaders who are change agents for equity in our schools.”

Wonkyung Jang

Wonkyung “Won” Jang is in his fifth year as a doctoral student at the School of Education, specializing in language and literacy development and learning in early childhood. He has worked as a teaching assistant in both the Human Development and Family Studies undergraduate program and the Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support specialty area of the Master of Education for Experienced Teachers program.

While pursuing his doctorate, Jang also is working on a master of science degree in statistics and a graduate certificate in computational linguistics. He also has worked during the past four years as a research assistant in the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and the School of Education.

Jang’s research interests lie in investigating the linguistic environments of early childhood classrooms and the relation between enhanced language learning and classroom experiences; the effects of teacher- or parent-implemented interventions on children’s learning; and innovative statistical and computational techniques that can better capture individual differences in language development among children with diverse developmental, cultural, linguistic, and educational needs.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in child and family studies and a bachelor of arts degree in applied statistics from Yonsei University in South Korea. As an exchange student, he studied at the University of Oslo in Norway, where he did independent research on cultural models of father involvement in early care and education. Before coming to Carolina, he worked as a preschool teacher and language and literacy intervention specialist.

Faculty member Roger Mills-Koonce, who nominated Jang for the award, said: “There are many attributes that make Won an excellent teacher — his intelligence, skillset, comfort in interacting with students, and his commitment and passion for teaching — just to name a few. But what truly distinguishes Won is his tremendous effort and investment in helping students move from learning material to really understanding and applying what they learn so that they carry it with them and utilize it for years to come.

“His energy and his authenticity inspires students to actually care about what they are studying — and when teaching research methodology that is no easy feat,” Mills-Koonce said.

Jang shares credit for his award with his students.

“We tried to make our learning experiences dramatic, humorous, surprising, joyous, maddening, exciting and heart-wrenching; and we played, we explored, we inquired, we reflected, we shared, we created, and we grew,” Jang said. “They always inspired me because of their insatiable curiosity and willingness to challenge themselves. And there was really nothing better than seeing my students eager to learn and completely involved in an activity for its own sake.”

The University’s Tanner Awards recognize excellence in inspirational teaching of undergraduate students. Graduate teaching assistants have been included among Tanner Award honorees since 1990. Tanner Award winners receive $5,000.