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Dr. Annalisa Chang wins 2023 Pearson Transformational Thought Leadership Award

(April 9, 2024) - Dr. Annalisa Chang, associate professor of Music Education and director of Clayton State University’s Music Preparatory School, is viewed by many to be so good at her job, she can simply win awards in her sleep!

Dr. Annalisa Chang called the award special, seeing how one of her students nominated her for it

This quite literally happened to her in March 2024, as Chang was named the winner of the 2023 Pearson Transformational Thought Leadership Award.

Her award nomination and recognition, she said, came from completely out of nowhere.

“I did not know I was a finalist for the award until I won it,” Chang said. “Pearson sent me an email and I did not realize I’d even been nominated!”

Pearson’s Transformational Thought Leadership Award is given to someone who creates “an environment throughout campus, and beyond, where ideas to further the field of education are put into practice. This person shares their best practices for the betterment of all faculty.”

And as Music Education senior Sarah Marchant further described it, it’s given to “a teacher who constantly questions how we can improve education and how we approach teaching.”

To her, Chang epitomized the award’s description.

And it’s why she nominated her for it without her knowing.

“Dr. Chang has been my teacher for the last three-and-a-half years,” Marchant said. “She's been a pivotal teacher for me – just always there for support on any level, whether it's personal or professional.”

Marchant recalled that one of her classes with Chang in Fall 2023 utilized Pearson’s online platform, which allows students to conduct surveys and provide feedback to the company.

During one such survey, Marchant said an option for nominating a Pearson-paired teacher for a multitude of awards was available and, upon seeing the Transformational Thought Leadership Award, she nominated Chang immediately.

Months later, Marchant’s nomination led to Chang’s surprise award recognition.

“Dr. Chang is always pushing her students to look for things outside the box,” Marchant said. “Not to just accept, ‘well, this is how we do it because that's how we've always done it.’ She always pushes everybody to push that boundary; to look for the latest research on any front.”

Marchant recalled that one of Chang’s roles, if not her primary role as an associate professor of Music Education, is to help teach future teachers.

The senior Laker said that after three years of seeing her professor encourage non-traditional means of learning and awareness just as strongly as traditional means, there was no hesitation to nominate her for the award.

“She is a constant inspiration for pre-service teachers for what the future can hold,” Marchant said. “The fact that we can make a difference not only in our students lives, but also in the future of education, we just have to be brave enough to take those steps in our classroom and careers to reflect the changes we see as a need.”

Chang said it’s an honor to receive such an award at any time during one’s academic career but noted that there’s something particularly special when such awards are a result of impacting a student’s life.

She is incredibly proud of all Marchant has done in her academic career, as well, and is grateful for both her camaraderie and award nomination efforts.

“I think any award that is peer-nominated or student-nominated means a lot to me,” Chang said. “That’s impactful for me because it means I'm doing my job well. It means I'm doing the things that I'm encouraging my students to do in their own classrooms.”

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