April 14, 2006

Helleny earns top teaching honor for term faculty

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Herrin native Edward J. "Joey" Helleny, a lecturer in radio-television at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has won the University's top teaching honor for faculty members not in tenure-track positions.

Helleny will receive $3,000 through SIUC's "Excellence Through Commitment Awards Program," set up by Chancellor Walter V. Wendler to reward ongoing contributions by tenured and term faculty, staff and graduate assistants throughout the University. The program reflects SIUC's aim of encouraging outstanding work, one of the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

Wendler will host a dinner to honor all award recipients Thursday, April 27.

A longtime media figure in the region, Helleny has worked as an anchor and reporter for area radio stations, as a reporter for the Southern Illinoisan and now-defunct St. Louis Globe Democrat newspapers and as media director for the Du Quoin State Fair.

He began lecturing part time at SIUC in 1999, adding a two-year stint as director of the University's radio reading service for the blind and visually impaired in 2001. He joined the faculty full time in 2003.

Helleny teaches courses in radio and television news, broadcast news writing and broadcast performance. He also supervises The River Region Evening Edition, the University's award-winning, student-produced, television newscast.

John D.H. Downing, interim chair of the radio-television department, noted in his letter supporting Helleny's nomination as top term teacher that he achieved consistently high scores on student evaluations.

"While there may be legitimate critiques (of these evaluations), this level of attainment is very hard to dispute," he wrote.

In a written statement summarizing his teaching philosophy, Helleny said that he believes people learn from the interactions between their old knowledge and beliefs and new ideas and circumstances.

"I consider myself a ‘guide' more than a ‘lecturer,'" he wrote.

"I want my students to be able to think for themselves instead of being told what to do and when to do it."

That teaching style proved highly successful for AnneMarie Crumby, a 2005 graduate now working as a producer for WJTV in Jackson, Miss.

"I am the youngest producer my station ever hired and currently the youngest full-time staff member in the newsroom — on several occasions, management has told me I am one of the top writers and producers on staff," Crumby wrote in her letter of support.

"(Joey) challenged me to think outside the box and be creative with my storytelling. He pushed me both as a journalist and a person to realize I could do things that I hadn't even thought about.

"I graduated from college not more than six months ago and am already achieving things far beyond what is normally expected of people my age in this business. I know none of this would be possible without everything I learned from Joey."

Erin Gibson, now a graduate student in Evansville, Ind., wrote, "On many occasions, I watched (Helleny) work individually with students who were writing or editing in the newsroom. When they asked him for guidance, he never handed them a solution. Instead, he challenged them to use the knowledge and skills from their training to arrive at the answer on their own.

"He recognizes that every question from a student — whether in the classroom or in the hallway— is an opportunity to teach, and he eagerly seizes those opportunities."

Helleny is a two-degree graduate of SIUC, earning his bachelor's in 1979 and a master's in 2004.

Edward J. Helleny

Edward J. Helleny
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