Katie Hyde: 2018 Faculty Recipient of the Betsy Alden Outstanding Service-Learning Award

Friday, June 15, 2018
katie hyde

Rhajaa Wright (pictured on the left next to Professor Katie Hyde) reflects on why she nominated Professor Hyde for the 2018 Faculty Recipient of the Betsy Alden Outstanding Service-Learning Award:

"Dr. Hyde is hands-down one of the most special professors that I have had the privilege to meet during my time at Duke. During my first-year at Duke I stumbled into her Literacy through Photography (LTP) class. The service-learning class was a nice break in my schedule from the traditional classes at Duke. To my excitement, the course allowed me to opportunity to be with Durham Public School (DPS) students as they embraced their beauty, shortcomings, nightmares, and dreams within LTP. The course easily became one of my favorite classes I had taken that year, however, I was not aware of the mentor that I would gain along the way."

I have been Katie’s service-learning assistant for over two years. However, I do not think that service-learning professor is the correct title for Katie, as the work that she does is not service, but instead appears to be a lifestyle for her. From the precision and devotion that she puts into designing her course, to the prolonged relationships she has with the DPS community partners, to her interaction all students, you can see that she is truly invested in everyone’s self-actualization, potential and success. However, Katie does not function as an authoritative figure that demands that someone agrees with what her ideas of self-actualization are. Instead, Katie allows for the students she teaches, and the local Durham community that she is involved in, to come to their conclusions themselves. Simply by being around Katie, people are inspired to find out about their own values and aspirations.

Dr. Hyde’s course is set up, so that students are actively reflecting on their experiences, and their lives, without even realizing they are doing so. In the past, the course has been structured in a way that allows students to participate in service-learning projects of varying scale: i.e., throughout the semester, week-long, or over the course of a few days. Through this method, students are able to reflect on varying experiences, and understand that the length of the partnership, does not equate to the length of the reciprocal impact. Katie has partnered with DPS for almost 20 years, and I believe it is the aforementioned aspects of her character that has cemented this successful long-term relationship. This is a true indicator of the impact that the partnership with LTP and the Durham community has. Additionally, Katie partners with communities across the world, such as Tanzania, and I am sure the impact is just as monumental. I’ve attended numerous meetings with Katie and the community partners, and she is always asking for their input and suggestions, as opposed to telling them what she sees is best.

This semester Katie’s class filled up during the first-registration window, and I am so happy that students continue to hear about Literacy Through Photography and Katie’s work through word of mouth. I am incredibly sad, that this will be my last year as her service learning, but I only hope that the person that fills my shoes will appreciate Katie’s sincerity, kindness and commitment to service-learning as much as I do, if not more.