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Abilene Christian names Rachel Riley as 2021 Teacher of the Year

Riley has been teaching at the university for 13 years and was described by a graduating student as "entertaining."
Credit: Abilene Christian University

ABILENE, Texas — Abilene Christian University announced Thursday Rachel Riley had been named the 2021 Teacher of the Year.

According to an ACU release, Riley has been described by one of her graduating students as "entertaining," and said she "makes boring lectures engaging."

Riley, who has taught in the Department of Psychology for 13 years, was recognized as Teacher of the Year at the May Commencement.

“I was genuinely surprised to find out that I had won and overwhelmed while listening to what students had written in their nominations,” Riley said.

The graduating senior class voted for the Teacher of the Year.

The common theme among the senior nominations was Riley's ability to engage students and caring bout the students inside and outside of the classroom.

“I want them to get the big picture,” Riley said. "Until they hit college, students are trained to produce, produce, produce. Make good grades; make this project look great. But so much of psychology is applicable in everyday life. I want what I teach to resonate when they run into something they can’t figure out later in life. It takes students a while to relax into the idea of learning for learning’s sake – not because it’s on a test but because it might be important later in life.”

Riley credit her appreciation for learning and teaching to mentors she had in her early teaching career at Lubbock Christian University and her undergraduate professors at ACU.