A Gift That Keeps on Giving
By Anne-Margaret Swary
Dr. Angela Falter Thomas’ students are at the heart of everything she does. So it’s only appropriate that a student lounge recently named in her honor is located in the heart of BGSU’s Education Building, where she’s been a faculty member in the Middle Childhood Education and Graduate Reading programs for the last eight years.
The Angela Falter Thomas, Ph.D. Student Lounge was dedicated thanks to a generous gift from her husband, Shayne Thomas, who wanted to do something special and unique to honor their 25th wedding anniversary on Nov. 30.
“About a year ago, my husband asked me what gift I would like for our 25th anniversary,” said Falter Thomas '89, who earned her bachelor’s degree at BGSU and spent 20 years teaching elementary and middle school before returning to her alma mater as a faculty member. “I told him I was so blessed and didn’t need a thing, but the College of Education and Human Development could use the funds.”
Her husband immediately recognized that a named gift was an ideal way to honor her commitment to students.
“I have two loves in my life – my family and my teaching – and I think Shayne’s decision to make a donation to the College of EDHD in honor of me is the most beautiful way to combine both,” Falter Thomas said. “I love our students, and I believe this is a nice way to give back to them and to show we care.”
The commitment to BGSU runs deep in the Falter Thomas family. Daughter Shayla will be enrolling next fall as a freshman.
The Education Building’s first floor student lounge was the perfect location since so many of Falter Thomas’s students spend their time there in between classes. Falter Thomas also remembers what it was like to be a commuter student during her own pursuit of a master’s degree from Heidelberg University and later a doctoral degree from Ohio State University.
“I hung out in a lot of lounges like that in between classes,” she said. “This gift could not be more perfect.”
Many of her students and colleagues agreed as they gathered at the naming ceremony to show their appreciation for her dedication as an associate professor of education.
“Many of the accomplishments that I have made would not be possible without Dr. Falter Thomas,” said middle childhood education student Amanda Monschein, who will graduate in May. “She pushed me. She motivated me. She was my rock. I was blessed having her as a teacher not once, but twice. Thank you for preparing us to be the best teachers we could be.”
Falter Thomas, who is one of only a handful of teachers in the United States to hold two national board certifications, tries hard to model best practices in everything that she does.
“My hope is that when they are new teachers and maybe don’t have the confidence just yet, they can reflect back and think ‘What did Dr. Thomas do?’ and act accordingly,” she said.
That commitment to excellence in the classroom is what propelled Falter Thomas to win the EDHD Excellence in College Teaching Award in 2015, the BGSU CMLA Professor of the Year in 2014 and be named as a finalist for the BGSU Master Teaching Award in 2013.
And now, thanks to her husband’s generous gift, her outstanding legacy as an educator at BGSU will be remembered for many years to come.
“When making our decision to give, Shayne wanted me to take stock on my life, and I kept coming back to the thought that out of everything that I have done or ever experienced, it has been because I have a teaching degree from BGSU that has truly made me happy,” Falter Thomas said. “BGSU prepared me to be a great teacher and to have this amazing career I have. Being a teacher has given me incredible satisfaction, motivation and passion for life.”