Jessica S. Henry of Justice Studies granted special University recognition
Jessica S. Henry, chairperson of the Department of Justice Studies, is the 2015 recipient of the University’s Distinguished Teacher Award. This highly competitive recognition is awarded annually to one faculty member from across the campus who is especially dedicated to the art and craft of teaching and student learning.
Henry, who joined the Montclair faculty in 2005 and previously served as a public defender in Manhattan and the Bronx, is passionate about teaching and justice. As a professor, “I get to think deeply about things that matter to me and to share that with the students,” she said in an interview.
Henry attributes her enthusiasm and extensive preparation for her success in the classroom. Henry explained that she comes to each class ready to help students immerse themselves into the subject matter at hand. Her passion for the subject is contagious, and she works to assist students in critical thinking about key facts and concepts.
Her attentiveness to student learning also drives positive outcomes. Henry watches for cues from her pupils to gauge what is resonating and where they struggle. This listening helps tailor her lessons to be more effective and engaging.
Overall, Henry said her goal is to challenge students to think critically about justice, to push them out of their intellectual comfort zone, and to think carefully about their previously held beliefs. Whenever possible, she employs real-world activities to encourage active learning.
Henry’s commitment to her department and what it teaches is clear. She sees Justice Studies as a uniquely interdisciplinary examination of the intersection between justice, race, class, gender, families, law, and the environment. This gives students a wide theoretical and practical foundation that provides a launching pad for future success, she said.
Justice Studies majors have used their educational background to pursue work in the legal field and law school, law enforcement, social services, international organizations, and more. Some students have even decided to follow Henry’s path and pursue careers in public defense.
Henry’s recognition includes the title of “University Distinguished Teacher” and an honorarium to develop and offer a new course in her area of expertise and special interest. Upon notification by the Provost of her selection for the award said, “I am delighted, honored and humbled to be recognized for teaching excellence at Montclair State University.”
Posted May 11, 2015