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University 101 Programs

Home Away from Home

U101 Teaching Award Recipient Creates a Welcoming Classroom Environment to Foster First Year Success

At the University of South Carolina, students are set up for success in and out of the classroom by taking U101. But being lucky enough to get Emily Baumann as their instructor gives students that advantage and more.

Out of the 191 University 101 Instructors who were nominated this year, Emily Baumann, a Marine Science Laboratory Manager in the School of Earth, Ocean, & Environment, was named the recipient of the 2023 M. Stuart Hunter Award for Outstanding Teaching in University 101, due to her creation of a home away from home. 

From the very first day, Emily created a relaxing and friendly atmosphere in her classroom. "The first day of class, I told them that I treat U101 like homeroom. You know, it's a safe place. They can come and learn some life skills. I want them to be able to relax in this environment," shared Emily. This was echoed by one of her students who stated, "Emily deeply cares about each and every single one of her students. She provided a comfortable, care-free environment in which new students could feel at home."

The welcoming environment Emily creates in all her U101 classes allows her students to have meaningful conversations and build supportive relationships within the class. Emily shared that this environment allows her students to get the most out of the experience. In their nomination, one of Emily's students highlighted that Emily "created an environment in which everyone in the room was a friend to have".

When Emily described her fall 2022 class she said, "They made my job so easy that all I had to do was just sit back and facilitate them building those connections, working with each other, and forming that community." It was not always so easy for Emily. In 2017, when Emily taught her first U101 class, she found the experience overwhelming. Even with the support of the U101 office, Emily shared that plenty mistakes were made along the way. Through teaching U101, Emily learned to embrace mistakes and encourages her students, future peer leaders, and instructors to do the same.

"Try not to take yourself seriously. Laugh at yourself, laugh at your mistakes, and work through it because if you take yourself too seriously, you're going to put so much pressure on yourself and your students. So, relax. You're going to make errors. It's going to be OK. As long as the students know that you care and that you're willing to put energy into them and get to know them, whatever you're doing is going to be OK."

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.