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Schelhaas receives Iowa literacy award

English Professor David Schelhaas was honored with a 2003 Literacy Award at this year's Iowa Council of Teachers of English ceremony held in Des Moines on Friday, Oct. 10.

The literacy award is given annually to one college professor, one librarian, an administrator and four K-12 educators in the state who have made contributions to language development and learning of literacy in the state of Iowa.

Professor David Schelhaas

Professor David Schelhaas

Schelhaas taught English at Dordt College since 1988, where he teaches "Methods of Teaching English" and supervises student teachers training for positions in junior or senior high schools. Prior to his fifteen years as a college educator, Schelhaas taught high school English courses for twenty-three years at Western Christian in Hull and West Michigan Christian in Muskegon, Michigan. He was also an adjunct college instructor at Muskegon Community College.

In nominating Schelhaas for this award, colleague Bill Lyons said "[Schelhaas'] philosophy of education in capsule form is this: First, all children are created in the image of God and as such are deserving of great respect and the very best education teachers can give them. Second, the ability to use language is not only a mystery, but also a uniquely human trait. Noam Chomsky calls the ability to use language a 'latent structure in the human mind.' That being the case, David believes that helping people develop their ability to use language, teaching reading and writing and literature, is a high calling. When we teach language, we pass on not only practical skills that are valuable in the daily interactions of our lives, but we help our students develop the tools they need to wrestle with big ideas and explore their deepest hopes and joys and fears that are part of being human."

Schelhaas has been widely published in religious journals and has also written articles for the English Journal. He recently completed the book Angling in the English Stream: 100 Ordinary English Words, Caught, Filleted, and Served Up in Tasty Little Essays. Published by Dordt College Press, it draws on words used on his weekly radio program called "What's the Good Word?" analyzes ordinary English word. In it he tries to communicate something of the sense of wonder he feels at the meandering journeys the meanings of words have taken as they have been used over centuries.