Robert Welker, Professor of Education
For Robert Welker, professor of education, the field of teaching represents an opportunity to change lives forever. In fact, for 20 years at Wittenberg, Welker has made it his mission to ensure that future teachers see themselves as “agents of social change.”
“I want to make sure that the classes students take with me have broader implications for what they do in their lives,” he said. He also wants to prepare them for the complex issues facing urban classrooms.
“We are educating for people’s participation in the wider community,” he says. “We’re not playing school.”
Such commitment to his craft, coupled with his creativity, has allowed Welker, the 2002 Ohio Professor of the Year, to use his own light to alter the teaching landscape in innovative ways. In addition to improving the professional status of front-line teachers, Welker has consistently worked collaboratively with teachers to help them avoid burnout, and he has supplied them with the strategies and skills to understand and effectively deal with the social and cultural issues that affect classroom teaching. He also partnered with teachers, parents, juvenile justice personnel and undergraduate students to establish the first Youth As Resources program in Ohio, which provides grants to youth involved with community service projects.
At the same time, Welker has inspired countless students, colleagues and teachers throughout his career. Many of his students have chosen to teach in urban districts, where economic, social, behavioral, language and other barriers can all stand in the way of real learning. Colleagues have said they are better teachers because of him. “There was a point several years ago when I made a determination that I was going to do what I loved,” Welker said. “I stopped working for a living long ago.”