LATROBE, PA - Dr. Kathleen Beining, assistant professor of education in the Saint Vincent School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, was presented with the Thoburn Excellence in Teaching Award at the annual Founders’ Day Honors Convocation in the Basilica on Nov. 15.
The Thoburn Award is made possible by a gift from the late Thomas W. Thoburn Jr., and Tina Thoburn, D.Ed., educators and philanthropists from Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
Nominations for the Thoburn Award are made by Saint Vincent alumni five to seven years after graduation. Alumni are invited to name one faculty member who has made a significant impact on them through both their teaching and personal interactions. This year, 55 nominations were received for 31 different faculty members.
Upon presenting the award, vice president for academic affairs Dr. John Smetanka said, “This is a clear indication of the long-lasting impact that our faculty have on our students.”
Beining, who is in her 10th year as a full-time member of the SVC faculty, holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Saint Vincent. She then went on to earn a doctorate in curriculum and instruction at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, completing a dissertation entitled “Empathy in Pre-Service Early Childhood Teachers.” Prior to joining the Saint Vincent staff full-time, Beining worked as a director of two early childhood learning centers in Latrobe and Derry.
“After working in the field of early learning as a director,” she said, “I felt that I had accumulated enough knowledge and had done all I had hoped to accomplish working in centers. I hoped to find a place where I could give back to the profession by helping young people move into the field of teaching young children, and Saint Vincent is that place.”
She serves as the director of early and middle-grade education at Saint Vincent, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in each of those areas. She also oversees practical experience for SVC education students, and directs the annual summer Challenge Program, a week-long thematic learning experience for K-12 students. Additionally, Beining has supervised SVC’s Wraps for Kids program since 2013, which has provided Christmas gifts to hundreds of children.
“In everything she does,” said Smetanka, “Dr. Beining enlivens virtues that she instills in her students who will go on to become professional educators.”
During his presentation, Smetanka also read excerpts from a number of nominations submitted on behalf of Beining.
“One alumnus wrote ‘Dr. Beining goes above the call of duty as a professor, and helps you build community inside and outside the campus’,” Smetanka said. “Another wrote, ‘Dr. Beining is singlehandedly responsible for my success. Not only did she prepare me throughout my undergraduate studies but pushed me to begin graduate work as well.’ Finally, another alumna said, ‘Dr. Beining is the best teacher I’ve had at any school. She goes above and beyond regardless of a student’s major or class standing, and she has a humble, serving heart.’”
“To be chosen for an award is always a lovely and special moment,” Beining said. “To be chosen by students as someone who made a difference truly does mean more than words can express. It is what we hope for as educators – to make a difference. To know that alumni, some many years removed from Saint Vincent, chose me, will always be a career highlight and an overwhelming personal moment.”
Beining is certified in early childhood education (N-3) and elementary education (K-6), while she is credentialed as a Pennsylvania early childhood director. She has had more than 20 scholarly presentations at both the state and national level and remains active at the state level to further the quality of early learning sites.
“I am in awe of the capacity that our students have to make a difference in the lives of children,” Beining said. “I am just so honored to help them on their journey.”
Photo 1: Dr. Kathleen Beining accepts the Thoburn Award from Dr. John Smetanka at the 2018 Founders’ Day Honors Convocation
Photo 2: Dr. Kathleen Beining addresses the attendees at the 2018 Founders' Day Honors Convocation
YouTube: Saint Vincent College