February 27, 2017
Dr. Christine Purkiss, a self-proclaimed “behind-the-scenes-type person,” was recently thrust into the limelight when she was chosen for one of the Texas Tech University System’s most prestigious awards.
An ASU faculty member since 2009, Purkiss is Angelo State’s winner of the 2017 TTUS Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award.
“When I got the email from the Chancellor’s Office saying I was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Council Award, I just cried,” Purkiss said. “It makes me very humble that people think I’m good at something.”
“I teach,” she continued. “I like to teach, and the fact that some people think I do it well is very flattering. It makes you want to do better. It makes you want to do more. The award is very nice”
Purkiss actually took a roundabout way to become a teacher. Born in England, she first came to the U.S. after marrying her military husband. It wasn’t until after she arrived that she started pursuing higher education.
“I was actually a training officer for an electrical retail company while in England,” Purkiss said. “I couldn’t get a job like that here because you had to have a degree. So I went to college.”
At her husband’s recommendation, Purkiss enrolled in two geology classes, and she fell in love with the subject. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in geology from McMurry University, she went on to work in the oil industry for many years, until one of the downturns.
“It was an opportune moment to go back to college and get my teacher certification,” Purkiss said. “I ended up getting my certification in science.”
Upon completing her doctorate from Texas Tech University, she scored her first teaching position at West Texas A&M. From there, she moved to Gunnison, Colo., to teach at Western State College, but a desire to be closer to family led her to apply at Angelo State.
“Teaching is all about relationships. I try to give reassurance and let students know there are people here who care about them. I think they need reassurance that they can do it.”
Now an associate professor, Purkiss teaches science methods to students in the ASU Teacher Education Department, helping them learn best practices for teaching science in elementary and middle school. She also teaches several introductory education courses.
“I love teaching that class,” Purkiss said. “I love it because you can hook students into teaching. They think they want to be teachers, but they aren’t sure. You have to make an impact early.”
Clearly, she is doing just that. The Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award is the most recent on her long list of accolades. She also received the 2016 ASU President’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching and was named the 2014 Counselor of the Year for the West Region by the Kappa Delta Pi international honor society for education.
“My department nominated me for the President’s Award,” Purkiss said. “They solicited letters from a couple of my students. The fact that my students think that I’m pretty good is really nice. It’s fulfilling.”
Purkiss knows that her personal honors also boost the reputation of her department and the university.
“I think this kind of award helps draw students who want to be teachers to ASU,” she said. “We have award-winning teachers in our programs, and we are pretty good at what we do.”
“Having the chancellor come down and present the award was also good for ASU,” Purkiss continued. “I think this kind of award helps because people hear about it. I’m hoping this kind of moves our program up a notch. Any way we can get a foot in the door to show our program to be one of the better ones in Texas is good.”
Moving forward, Purkiss continues to focus on building relationships with her students. One area she feels she excels in is relating to nontraditional and first-generation students, having been both herself.
“Teaching is all about relationships,” she said. “I try to give reassurance and let students know there are people here who care about them. I think they need reassurance that they can do it.”
“We’ve been in the same place,” she continued. “I did it. You can, too.”
I Chose ASU - Dr. Christine Purkiss
Why did you choose to work at ASU?
It was really hard to find a teacher education program that had a science methods class. ASU did, and I really liked the campus and faculty when I interviewed.
Where is your favorite place on campus and why?
So many. The Commons in the Library – it is such a vibrant place. The Junell Center – it just comes to life when we are playing basketball (love the Ram Horns) or volleyball. The Planetarium is a great place to take students to learn about science.
What has been one of your most memorable experiences since coming to ASU?
As counselor for Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education, we were awarded an ACE Award in 2013. These are given to high-performing chapters. The students worked hard for two years to achieve this award. I was so proud of them and for them.
Was there anything about ASU that surprised you when you started working here?
How friendly people are, how easy it was to make connections with faculty in other departments/colleges and how inviting the campus setting is – so many trees!
What would you say to prospective students who are considering attending ASU?
You will be part of the Ram Family here at ASU, and as such, you always have people who care for you.