Graduate assistant in ComArtSci honored with Excellence in Teaching Citation: Caryn Herring recognized for growth-oriented teaching philosophy

A graduate assistant in Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences known for empowering students to take an active role in their learning has received the 2022 Excellence-In-Teaching Citation.

Caryn Herring, a Ph.D. candidate in MSU’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, is among six graduate teaching assistants university-wide who have distinguished themselves by the care and skill they have shown in meeting their classroom responsibilities. The Excellence-In-Teaching Citation underscores Herring’s contribution to the quality of undergraduate education at MSU.

Herring teaches the Introduction to Communicative Sciences and Disorders course, and brings both personal and professional experience to the classroom. As a person who stutters, she was drawn to the study of communicative sciences and disorders, and to embark on a career as a speech-language pathologist and educator. Herring also grounds her research in the exploration of stuttering. Her two recent areas of interest include the process of desensitization and reducing the adverse cognitive and affective components of stuttering, and systematic exposure therapy using varying degrees of voluntary stuttering.

Herring said she is passionate about teaching. When she was growing up, she said she never felt like the stereotypical “good student.” Herring admits her struggles with the fear of being wrong affected her classroom participation, grades and overall learning when she was a K-12 student. Now, as an educator, she has made it her mission to create a safe, judgment-free environment where students feel empowered to take risks, ask questions, and take an active role in their learning—even if they make mistakes along the way.

“I actually encourage mistake-making and see it as an opportunity to grow,” Herring said. “Receiving this award validates that students have benefitted from this philosophy, and that the university values the classroom environment I have created.”

Herring has worked at or volunteered for several prominent stuttering associations, including Friends: The National Association of Young People Who Stutter, and SAY: the Stuttering Association for the Young. She also co-hosts a podcast focused on changing the way people perceive stuttering. Herring has served as a chapter leader for the National Stuttering Association for more than seven years, and serves as the president of the MSU student organization, Spartan Stuttering Group.

“I’m so honored to receive this award,” she said. “It reinforces to me that I am on the right career path.”

By Ann Kammerer