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Judith Hankes - Student Impact

by Amy Wasnidge
Student Multimedia Reporter

Effective Teaching and Learning

Myrtle Mahkimetas and Patricia Schwenke both work as teachers for Native American schools in Wisconsin, but that isn’t the only thing they have in common. They credit their ability to teach effectively to Dr. Judith Hankes, a  professor with the College of Education and Human Services at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Mahkimetas, 46, a 17-year veteran teacher at Menominee Indian Elementary School, says Hankes, who holds workshops and week-long classes to help teachers discover their own way of teaching, opened her eyes to a different style of teaching. “She tremendously changed my life,” Mahkimetas said. “If I would not have taken her class, I would not have been able to teach math and reading the way I do.”

 Dr. Judith Hankes in the Classroom
 Dr. Judith Hankes of UW Oshkosh and the teachers of the future.

Patricia Schwenke, 55, a special education teacher at Menominee Indian High School, feels the same about Hankes’ impact.  “I absolutely hated teaching math,” admits Schwenke. “Now I love it because the methods of inquiry that I use to teach math now are also the same methods I use to teach reading, written expression, and a million other things every day in my classroom.”

Building Confidence

Schwenke isn’t only appreciative of the teaching styles that Dr. Hankes helped her understand. She also credits Dr. Hankes with helping her take a look at herself. “By sharing her knowledge, she has helped to raise my own self esteem and confidence,” Schwenke said. “The way that she works with teachers, to learn how to teach children to think for themselves, is nothing less than remarkable.”

Mahkimetas explained Dr. Hankes’ style of teaching involves making her students feel important by listening and understanding. She said Dr. Hankes presents to her class and then asks for feedback and asks what her students are thinking. “I started teaching by following the teacher’s manual, but Dr. Hankes taught me to take it further and go beyond just the manual,” Mahkimetas said.  “She’s helped me to be more confident in myself and not be afraid.”

“Her teaching style is one of inquiry,” Schwenke explains. “It involves helping students discover their own ways to think and problem solve. It works for me and it is a style I try to model every day. She taught and continues to teach me how to help my kids learn how to problem solve and have pride in themselves and how they learn.”