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Shelly Schreier: "I came and never left ... I bleed maize and blue"

Adam Glanzman/Daily
Portrait of Shelly Schreier Buy this photo

By Alicia Adamczyk, Daily News Editor
Published March 25, 2013

Psychology lecturer Shelly Schreier’s office is a testament to her love of teaching. Children’s books — which she uses to explain the cognitive, social and emotional development of children — line the walls, while boxes overflowing with papers and folders are stacked in front of the only window. A Sigmund Freud action figure, still in its original package, sits on a bookshelf, while a miniature Bobo doll — modeled after the dolls used in the classic psychology experiment of the same name — is situated on the shelf below.

Between explanations of Bobo’s significance to her field and the use of children’s literature as bibliotherapy, there’s little doubt Schreier enjoys what she does. And as the recipient of this year’s Golden Apple Award — an award given each year to a student-nominated teacher at the University who is particularly inspiring and engaging — her students appreciate her enthusiasm.

A Michigan native, Schreier attended the University for her undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. Earning her doctorate in clinical psychology, she opened a private practice after completing her post-doctoral work in Ann Arbor. Schreier eventually returned to lecturing at the University and has been teaching full time since 1999.

“I came and never left ... I bleed maize and blue,” Schreier said. “I absolutely love this place.”

She became involved in research opportunities, project outreach and even crisis phone counseling during her undergraduate career. She said though the University is a large place, these extracurricular activities, paired with “incredible” mentors, helped make it a little bit smaller.

“I took amazing classes from amazing faculty ... who helped me learn in creative ways,” she said. “Part of what I do, hopefully, is pay it forward.”

Indeed, Schreier expressed over and over that building relationships with students is the most rewarding aspect of her job. Part of her mandate as a teacher is to positively influence her students’ lives.

And while she said it’s her duty to ensure her teaching is worthwhile to her students, she also hopes students come to her class with some level of excitement and interest about the topic.

“I feel very strongly that it is a responsibility, an honor and a privilege to teach here,” she said. “I really try to approach teaching like it’s a partnership in some way between myself and the students.”

According to Business and LSA junior Jake Levey, a member of Hillel’s Students Honoring Outstanding University Teaching committee, which selects the Golden Apple winner each year, Schreier was selected as the 2013 recipient because of the mentoring relationship she has developed with her students.

“We looked for nominations that said the teacher was really more than just a teacher. One was like, ‘Shelly is the reason I’m a psychology major today,’ ” Levey said. “It makes you think about what should an exemplary teacher be, and that’s what really led us to Shelly.”

“We do think about people who would be ambassadors for the University, who would really shine,” he added.

Public Policy senior Gabe Pachter, another member of the committee, seconded Levey’s assertions, adding that while many of the submissions had one or two words on them, most of the submissions for Schreier were stories.

Outside the classroom, Schreier is an avid University sports fan. A mother of three — one University alum and two current University undergraduates — she said she enjoys taking her daughters to athletic events and Camp Michigania, the University’s up-north alumni family camp, in the summer. While she enjoys the various activities provided at the camp, ranging from archery to rock polishing, Schreier said one of her favorite things to do at the camp is attend the faculty lectures.

“I’ll turn everything, if I can, into a teaching moment,” Schreier said. “Just ask my kids.”

She has also served on the Undergraduate Psychology Committee and has been involved with the University Mentorship Program for about 10 years. Additionally, Schreier is in charge of the Psychology Graduate Student Instructor training program.

Each year, the Golden Apple recipient delivers his or her “last lecture,” the talk the winner would give if he or she had only one left. Schreier will present hers April 4 at 7 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium. Ever the mentor, her speech will focus on the principle of good decision-making she bases her life around and tries to promote.

Though she’s looking forward to her last lecture, she views the award as a challenge to continue to improve her teaching and material.

When asked what receiving the Golden Apple Award meant to her, Schreier paused before answering, an uncharacteristic moment for the high-energy speaker.

“(It’s) probably the most incredible honor that an educator at this University gets,” she said. “For the students to be the ones to say you have made a positive difference, I can’t think of anything more rewarding.”


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