2018 Carol MacDaniels Teacher of the Year Award

2018 award recipient Adam Hubrig with nominators Shari Stenberg and Rachael W. Shah, and director Robert Brooke

Presented to Adam Hubrig

I am pleased to present the 2018 Nebraska Writing Project Carol MacDaniels Teacher of the Year Award to Adam Hubrig.

Adam currently teaches in the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he's serving his second term as Associate Director of Composition. He's been active in the Nebraska Writing Project network for years – he taught at Southeast Community College when he participated in his first Summer Institute. Since then, Adam has served on the NeWP Advisory Board and as Co-Director. He's been one of the lead organizers for the annual Platte River Writing Retreat, several Writing Marathons, and a number of informal writing groups. He is currently active in three of our major programs: Husker Writers, with its outreach to schools and communities; the C3WP argument writing program, which he sold almost single handedly to Lincoln Public Schools administrators; and our partnership with the National Parks Service (ask him to tell you sometime about his vision of Homestead as an "agonistic space").

Adam's nominator points to his breath of commitment in her opening comments. She writes:

In my 14 year experience with the NeWP, Adam is one of those stand-out innovative teachers we all aspire to be. He has a natural talent for combining his love of learning with a talent for reaching students from all backgrounds. His lessons are designed to link people with community issues . . . [he] allows students to develop their own skills in a way that brings them closer to recognizing their own impact on the world around them.

Adam's many supporting nominators pick up on this theme of community engagement. His past chair at Southeast Community College writes:

[Adam has] a missionary role in education, a pedagogy that is radical in that it has no walls that keep him within a classroom. One example of this is his project with several folks at the People's City Mission where he made his work adapt to the lives of those who needed him, providing not just the educational resources but the life resources to get through a day.

Another nominator offers a list of some of the many ways Adam reaches beyond the traditional classroom. She says:

Adam is the teacher who finds a way to trade his family's butcher meat for a refurbished laptop so one of his students can have a computer in college, the teacher who spends hours counseling students outside of class, the teacher who skypes in to teach from a hospital bed, the teacher who works intensively with a troubled student that has dropped all other classes but Adam's and is hanging on to higher education by a thread, the teacher who continues lunchtime book clubs with blue-collar students after the course ends. He calls his students "humans," and you know he sees them that way, not just as students, or names, or grades. And he inspires other teachers to a higher level of teaching. Adam's Husker Writers partner, a first-year high school English teacher, shared with me that Adam empowered him to move beyond the district curriculum binder and to reimagine required assignments as meaningful inquiry into topics like local food deserts in the city of Lincoln.

Another nominator, herself a first year teacher, echoes this vision of Adam's mentorship. She writes:

As a new teacher myself, Adam has been a fundamental part of my growth as an educator. Acting as my mentor during my first semester teaching, he was a constant source of support, an active listener, and a champion brainstormer. Adam's manner around people is deeply comforting, as he explicitly values each person he interacts with; a quality surely his students feel, as well as his colleagues.

His students do feel Adam's deep comforting value, as one student nominator explains:

Adam bent over backwards for me, while he was sick, to help me. He took a subject that not many college students care about, and he is able to make it interesting and relate it back to things to make it simple. He is by far one of the best instructors I have ever had.

Another student, a member of the award winning UNL debate team, adds:

In four years, no other teacher has offered the freedom of discourse and the encouragement of critical thinking that Adam establishes both in class and out. He fosters urgency for academic engagement and communal discourse, while he offers attentiveness to the needs of the individuals that make up his class.

What this student is trying to say is said another way, I think, by the last nominator I'll quote, who also captures Adam's attention to the individual and his passion for teaching as a means of community improvement. He writes:

Adam Hubrig can fix your plumbing and would if you asked. He can run a lathe, too. And he can part out a pig in a North Dakota barn. Adam can write a fine poem and teach a future auto mechanic to write true clear words. There aren't many who can do all of this. I've had the pleasure to write, drink, travel, and talk with Adam for the last five years. He reminds me of the old rural progressives who won't let anyone dictate the music of the spheres and who always had a deep unwavering integrity. I respect and honor his work with the homeless and at the literacy center and in the community college; his capacity for empathy is staggering. I have had the privilege to work with and know half a dozen or so of the Carol MacDaniels Award winners. Each of them is dedicated to community and place and to the notion that writing matters—words matter—and to the truth that teaching is a calling. I am pleased to see Adam among their number. It is well deserved.

Please join me in honoring Adam Hubrig as the 2018 Carol MacDaniels Nebraska Writing Project Teacher of the Year.

Robert Brooke
Director, Nebraska Writing Project
4 May 2018