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Media and Communication Studies instructor wins Educator of the Year award

Heath Applebaum

Nothing is more rewarding than seeing my students succeed and launch successful careers."

University of Guelph-Humber Media and Communication Studies instructor Heath Applebaum was recently recognized with the Educator of the Year award from the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS).

We caught up with Applebaum – who is President of the reputation management consulting firm Echo Communications – to discuss the honour, as well as his approach to teaching.

What does this award mean to you? What was your reaction when you found out you'd won?

To be recognized with The Educator of the Year Award is incredibly gratifying. It is validation of a lot of hard work. I have taught and mentored nearly 3,000 students over the past 11 years and to be recognized in this way is wonderful.  It's an honour to be the very first University of Guelph-Humber instructor to have earned this prestigious award.

I really strive to be a role model to my students and lead by example, particularly during this year, where the pandemic took our classrooms away from us.  I had to adapt how I teach, how I evaluate and reprioritize content that I knew would resonate online. 

How would you describe your teaching philosophy? 

Ask my students and they will tell you that I like to keep it real. All of my assignments, in-class activities, content and even my exams are very pragmatic. My goal is to instill that insatiable curiosity to never stop learning, and arm them with the critical thinking skills and perseverance to thrive when they leave the classroom. I believe we have to touch their hearts before we can truly nourish their minds.

As educators, we need to build their confidence so they are determined to succeed, rather than being afraid to fail. I also firmly believe that learning should be fun and I utilize a variety of teaching strategies and even applied neuroscience to engage and build a real connection with students.

Finally, I take pride in constantly learning, and then sharing industry best practices with students. They deserve only the best.  

Your nomination was the result of support from students and colleagues. How does it feel to know you're regarded this way by the UofGH community?

To be nominated and recognized by dozens of students, faculty and administrators was truly touching. When the announcement was made and posted online, I had so many students reach out to personally thank me for helping them over the years, it was heartwarming. I didn't realize I had such a powerful impact and that will certainly motivate me to keep teaching and inspiring the next generation.

Nothing is more rewarding than seeing my students succeed and launch successful careers. 

Why has the University of Guelph-Humber been a good fit for you?

I have been teaching at Guelph-Humber for many years now, and I particularly enjoy the small classes. It enables me to get to know my students, to understand their career aspirations and adapt the curriculum every time I teach, so students not only sponge up my knowledge but can apply it in their assignments, internships and the working world when they graduate. 

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