MAILED: May 18, 2000
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumnus Jason Splichal recently was named the 1999-2000 Student Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English. Splichal is a December 1999 English graduate. The award recognizes exceptional talent and leadership in the secondary English classroom.
"It's a great honor," Splichal said. "I'm pleased and comforted that in this standardized age of blinders in education, progressive teaching methods can still be rewarded."
Splichal, who currently teaches various English courses to juniors and seniors at Chetek High School, not only works in the classroom but also volunteers time to work with young writers in the community. Splichal is also a published poet and takes part in poetry readings in the Chippewa Valley.
"Jason's high energy is well-suited to the high school classroom," said Dr. Mary Meiser, professor of English at UW-Eau Claire.
"Jason is one of the most thoughtful, most intelligent students I have known," Meiser said. "At the same time, he is down to earth, realistic and pragmatic about teaching and working with adolescents. He is hard-working and dedicated to being the best teacher he can be."
During his time at UW-Eau Claire, Splichal assisted in developing and teaching an "Introduction to College Writing" course as a student mentor in the Freshman Year Experience Program.
"That experience continues to positively impact the way I run my own classes today," he said.
Splichal decided to become a teacher once he realized he had what it took to reach young people and could make them fall in love with reading and writing. That's when he learned how rewarding teaching could be.
"I don't know of another profession where you can positively impact 75-100 lives a day," he said. "I knew this would be the most rewarding way to make a compassionate contribution to the future."
Splichal was an intern at McDonell High School in Chippewa Falls last fall and made a special connection with the students there. When students there were asked to evaluate his teaching, all of them wrote about "life lessons" that Splichal had provided. His lessons went beyond the material that was being studied and taught the students that they were important and that they could succeed, said Meiser, who was Splichal's university supervisor during his teaching internship.
"I owe much of my success to my students at McDonell High School in 1999 and my current students at Chetek," Splichal said. "I gain constant inspiration from them."
Because of the Student Teacher of the Year award, Splichal has achieved creative and academic freedom at Chetek High School by gaining greater flexibility in designing his high school classes.
"The award really validated the ground-breaking work I was doing, but, most importantly, it ensured that I could continue," he said. "Chetek gives me a lot of freedom in developing curriculum and I see it as a district that I can continue to grow in professionally."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: May 18, 2000