Nov. 07, 2012

Geneseo lecturer and alumnus is New York State Teacher of the Year


Learning is a shared experience, says Lecturer Gregory Ahlquist '95. As a teacher at Webster Thomas High School, or a summer instructor at Geneseo, he is imparting knowledge to students, but he gets something back.

"Inevitably, I always walk away with something in the teaching process," he says. "That is one of the rich rewards of teaching."

Perhaps he gains a new perspective. Or discussions spark ideas. One of the greatest rewards, Ahlquist says, is seeing students reach potential they never knew they had. There is an opportunity, he says, to instill a desire to learn more.

"It is a privilege to teach because we have the opportunity to literally transform lives," he says. "Students realize something about themselves or what they are learning, and they begin to see the world differently."

It happened to him as an undergraduate at Geneseo.

Ahlquist says his undergraduate experience was filled with "great teachers who greatly affected the way I saw the world and how I teach."

His teachers took time to invest in him as a student, he says, such as Lecturer and Fellow in the Office of International Programs Wes Kennison, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Ronald Herzman and Distinguished Teaching Professor of History Emeritus Bill Cook. They were knowledgeable in their field and "set the bar high." They had an art to teaching, says Ahlquist, that convinced him "that I could play at that level, and I could perform at that level."

Ahlquist must have been a very good student.

A teacher at Webster Thomas for 12 years, Ahlquist was recently honored as the 2013 New York State Teacher of the Year. The state Board of Regents made the announcement Oct. 10.

"... He epitomizes the liberally educated person, the scholarly and engaged teacher, and the ideal of service to the community, and sets a tremendous example of what secondary education should be," said President Christopher C. Dahl.

Ahlquist earned a bachelor's degree in history with a minor in Medieval studies at Geneseo, and a master's in Medieval history from Syracuse University. He heads up the advanced placement program for Webster Thomas and teaches AP world history, AP European history and has taught humanities and the Holocaust. He has been a lecturer at Geneseo for 14 years, teaching humanities, history and Latin.