Dr. Jesus Montaño of the Hope College English faculty has been presented the 46th “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” (H.O.P.E.) Award by the graduating Class of 2010.
He was named the recipient during the college’s Commencement ceremony, held at Holland Municipal Stadium on Sunday, May 9, at 3 p.m.
The award, first given in 1965, is presented by the graduating class to the professor who they feel epitomizes the best qualities of the Hope College educator.
Montaño has taught at Hope since 1999. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor, and was promoted to associate professor in 2004.
His primary academic interests are Latina/o literature and Medieval English literature, and he has written and delivered invited addresses in both fields. In 2002 he received a Sluyter Fellowship from Hope to explore the literary and cultural issues of the border lands, through a focus on Mexican American literature for children and young adults.
Montaño’s work resonates with students, and his courses are always packed. When the college’s Cultural Heritage course requirements were adjusted to include more cultural traditions, he introduced a new course that explored the cultural encounters of Native Americans, the Spanish colonies, and Northern European settlers in the American Southwest. Through his course “Routes and Roots,” part of the capstone Senior Seminar program through which graduating seniors articulate their life view, he encourages students to understand that even though their point of origin may be known (their roots), their journey is on-going and their destination unknown. His attention to gender-specific learning styles also marks his awareness of student needs, and he has incorporated new types of writing assignments, research opportunities and presentation methods in his classes.
“Jes is an inspiring example of the growth all teachers can experience in the middle of their careers,” said Dr. David Klooster, professor of English and chairperson of the department. “He has come into his own as a teacher in recent years, by working very hard on his teaching, by trying new things, by reimagining his role and his students’ abilities, and by daring to take risks and try new things. Many of us tend to get stuck in old patterns, but Jes is a wonderful example of someone who has found new and effective ways to express the core of his personality and his values in his teaching, and students have responded enthusiastically.”
“He treats his students like adults, and expects full adult effort and attitude from them,” Klooster said.
Montaño has also developed new research and artistic inquiries in recent years. He is an accomplished photographer, using his camera to document his frequent road trips to the West and Southwest. He follows the linguistic and artistic migration of words and symbols of Mexican Americans as they travel across the North American landscape. During a recent Critical Issues Symposium on Immigration, Montaño offered a lecture about his own immigrant experience, illustrated with his photographs. Student and faculty interest in the presentation was so great that it had to be moved to a larger room so that more than 300 people could witness his work and hear his stories.
Montaño graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1991, and from The Ohio State University with a Master of Arts and a doctorate in English in 1996 and 1999 respectively.