Dunaway-Haney ’92 Named Educator of the Year
By Anne-Margaret Swary
Amy Dunaway-Haney ’92 has been named the 2016-2017 Educator of the Year. This prestigious annual award presented by the College of Education and Human Development recognizes a BGSU alumnus for excellence in the field of education.
"As one of the largest and most influential teacher preparation programs in the region, we know that our alumni are having an important impact in schools and communities each and every day," said Dr. Dawn Shinew, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. "The Educator of the Year award provides us with a valuable opportunity to honor one of these individuals and let them know how proud we are to have them representing BGSU."
Dunaway-Haney, a high school Spanish teacher in the Dayton area, earned her bachelor’s degree from BGSU in Spanish education and has worked as an educator for 25 years. She also has degrees from the University of Dayton with in school counseling, professional counseling and clinical counseling and has worked in a private practice and as a drug and alcohol counselor for several years while teaching full time. She was nominated by her colleague and former student, Katie Acosta.
“Amy is an incredibly talented, innovative, diligent and positive teacher and proud BGSU graduate,” Acosta wrote in her nomination letter. “She accepts all challenges no matter how big or small and has become a positive influence on the teaching world in her community as well as throughout the world.”
Acosta described her former Spanish teacher and mentor as a “phenomenal” teacher, in addition to being a textbook author and editor and a family counselor.
“She has always made language learning challenging and upbeat,” Acosta said. “Amy always finds new ways to excite her students about the Spanish language and culture. She has high standards for her students and for herself. Every one of her 34 AP Spanish students passed the exam last year, which is a record for her school.”
Acosta said Dunaway-Haney spends countless hours each week preparing lessons and activities for her students. She wants them to succeed in Spanish and in all aspects of their lives.
“Amy begins each school year not a few days before school starts, but at the end of the last day of the previous year,” she said. “She is constantly improving not only herself and the education of her students, but the education of the world.”
Each summer, in addition to directing Spanish camps, traveling with students and tutoring children, Dunaway-Haney dedicates herself to writing educational materials that can be used by language teachers across the country. These resources provide teachers with new ideas on how to incorporate culture, speaking, reading, listening and writing of the Spanish language into their classrooms.
“Amy not only strives to improve her students and the state of education in this country, but she improves herself,” Acosta said. “For example, a couple of years ago, she successfully completed the rigorous National Board Certification process in one year, while gaining many ideas on how to reflect on her own teaching and improve her classroom.”
Dunaway-Haney’s inspiration to her students and community goes far behind her teaching. She also serves as a shining example of how to overcome adversity. Muscular dystrophy has caused her to use a wheelchair since she was 9 years old. Her disease has attacked her arms and legs, and progressively has begun weakening her other muscles.
“Amy has never let her physical disability prevent her from leading a successful life and career, and she is determined to continue to make a huge impact on the lives she touches,” Acosta said. “She was even one of the first students at BGSU to use a wheelchair and was instrumental in pushing the campus to become accessible for those with disabilities.”
Dunaway-Haney gives back to the field of education in countless ways. She presents innovative workshops for university students, foreign language conferences, charter schools and even to raise money for students who cannot afford to pay for the AP and IB programs offered at her high school.
She continues to grow in her profession and in her ability to teach Spanish, going beyond the traditional classroom experience. Dunaway-Haney organizes concerts, plays, fashion shows, pen pal programs, zoo visits, elementary Spanish camps and charity fundraisers in addition to planning annual student trips to Spanish-speaking countries.
“Traveling is an ordeal for anyone who has limited mobility, yet she enthusiastically accepts the challenges and overcomes all of the obstacles inherent when one goes to third-world countries,” Acosta said. “She even goes into remote areas such as rainforests and impoverished schools and orphanages, so that her students can see first-hand things such as the effects of rainforest depletion and poverty.”
Dunaway-Haney also organizes all types of charity fundraising events for area migrant workers, local families, and charities. She involves not only herself, but also her students. She leads the way as her students volunteer at events such as letter writing campaigns for soldiers overseas, children's Christmas parties, a project for workers in Guatemala, and donating costumes for children in the Dominican Republic so they can celebrate Carnival.
“Many of her former students are now studying to be occupational therapists, Peace Corps volunteers, doctors, and of course, teachers, because she has inspired them to improve the world around them,” Acosta said. “She is a wonderful example of a person with a passion to educate every one of her students, consistently proving she has so much to give.”
The Educator of the Year Award is open each year to all alumni educators across the U.S. who hold current licensure in any area of pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade education or administration and are currently working full-time in the field. This includes anyone working in private or public settings in all areas of education, including specialists, (art, music, physical education, special education). For more information, visit www.bgsu.edu/EducatoroftheYear.