Great Teacher Jennifer Ibrahim honored to be in the classroom
Jennifer K. Ibrahim, associate professor of public health in the College of Health Professions and Social Work, is not as concerned about her students’ grades as she is about what they are learning in class.
“I tell my students at the beginning of each semester that I don’t care if every one of them gets an A in the class; it’s leaving at the end of the semester with a new set of tools and an understanding of the topic that is most important,” says Ibrahim, who is the recipient of Temple’s Great Teacher Award for the 2013–2014 academic year.
As this year’s award recipient, Ibrahim will receive a $15,000 stipend and a commemorative sculpture designed by Tyler School of Art Professor Stanley Lechtzin.
“It’s an honor for me to be recognized for my teaching, but I think it’s an honor for me every day to be to be able to go into a classroom and teach,” she says.
Ibrahim joined Temple’s faculty in 2005 and also is director of graduate studies in the Department of Public Health. She works hard to be a role model for her students, incorporating her research in health policy into the classroom, and demonstrating to them that an academic can balance good teaching with research and service to the university and community.
“I can’t go into the classroom and tell my students this is what I expect of them when I’m not doing that myself,” she says. “I feel I have to be able to ‘walk the walk’ in order to ‘talk the talk.’”
Ibrahim says she is drawn to teaching because it is a new experience every semester, in every class, and she often needs to customize her teaching to that particular class.
“At the beginning of the semester, I have a syllabus and a game plan, but until I walk into that classroom and see who’s sitting there staring back at me, it’s really difficult to say this is how I’m going to teach,” she says.
“In one of the first classes I ever taught, I had a student fresh from undergraduate school and an OB-GYN who was 64 years old. They’re very different learners, so how do I engage both of them in a way that they’re both going to learn the material?”
Ibrahim, who also has been honored with the CHPSW Excellence in Teaching Award (2009), the Lindback Award (2011) and the CHPSW Innovation in Teaching Award (2013), says that the diversity of Temple’s students plays a key role in her passion for teaching.
“The discussions with Temple students are so rich,” she says. “There are things being said in class that I sometimes have to go home and look up, or it was something I hadn’t thought about. It keeps it interesting for me. I’m never bored when I am teaching. I am fortunate to love my job.”