I recently had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Dr. Susan Osborne. Her name is synonymous with dedication, excellence and advocacy for children with special needs. Over the years Dr. Osborne has contributed to the field of education in a myriad of ways, including, but not limited to, research, writing, community support and most importantly, teaching. Among some of her many accomplishments, Dr. Osborne worked for the Head Start program in Charlottesville, Virginia and chaired a project that evaluated software to increase social, academic and language skills in children with autism. She was also the recipient of the NCSU Libraries Faculty Award in 2006 for serving as chairperson on a library subcommittee. She raised awareness to bring scholarly research in line with the Tempe Principles of design, evaluation and specific standards. Prior to retiring, she coordinated the graduate program at NCSU. I was privileged to have her as my very first professor upon acceptance into the graduate program at North Carolina State University.
Dr. Susan Osborne has worn many hats over the years. Born in Indiana, she grew up in a military family, affording her the opportunity to travel ever changing U.S. landscapes and capture varied life experiences. She earned her undergraduate degree at Ohio State University and her master’s and doctorate degree at the University of Virginia. Dr. Osborne spent 30 years in the NC University system, 26 of which were at NC State. She has had a distinguished career spanning four decades.
All the professors I learned from were outstanding. It’s fair to say that individuals who have earned the right to be addressed as Dr. have accumulated awards, achievements, and accolades over the years that are a testament to their knowledge and commitment to their profession.
What sets Dr. Osborne apart is her expertise as an educator. Among a roomful of exemplary teachers, she would be the cream that rises to the top. My own experience as a student, along with many others, is an example of that.
Many years ago I decided to return to school and become a special education teacher. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but early on switched gears and earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of New Hampshire. While I enjoyed the opportunities that came with earning a degree in that field, the desire to teach remained strong. It was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I decided to return to school and become a teacher. With all the exceptional universities in the area I was unsure which schools to apply. However, after doing some research on my own it was a very easy decision. I applied to North Carolina State University and was thrilled when I was officially accepted into the NCSU graduate program.
My very first class was Learning Disabilities, and it was my good fortune to have Dr. Susan Osborne as my professor. All professors have a wealth of knowledge they want to pass on to their students so they can achieve their goals. Dr. Osborne was no exception. One of the qualities that set her apart, were the innovative ways she imparted her knowledge to us. In addition to the books, papers, presentations and final exams that are all standard fare, Dr. Osborne shared her knowledge in ways that challenged and inspired us. She truly went above and beyond.
In her pursuit of excellence she incorporated many unique learning opportunities to provide us with greater insight. We didn’t just read and write about what we were studying, we experienced it! These authentic learning opportunities helped us gain not just knowledge, but wisdom.
Open discourse was a given. There was a very easy give and take. Along with the wealth of information Dr. Osborne imparted each week, her lectures were dotted with interesting anecdotes, experiences, and lively classroom discussions. Her positive demeanor, insightfulness and equitable teaching style created a powerful classroom setting where learning was at its peak. Bloom’s Taxonomy and excellence in teaching were on full display! I always entered Dr. Osborne’s classroom knowing I was going to take away something new that couldn’t be found in any book, and that I could use to help my own students reach their full potential.
Although Dr. Osborne retired from NCSU last year she continues to make her mark, forging new paths, and helping others achieve their goals. She continues to inspire by making a difference in the lives of others. She is currently working with colleagues to establish an endowment to help aspiring teachers who would like to attend NCSU and make this world a better place for children through excellence in teaching.