Steven Kurtz

Steven Kurtz (French) recently received Rackham's Outstanding GSI Award. The Outstanding GSI Award is given to GSIs who demonstrate extraordinary dedication and excellence as teachers.

“I feel honored to receive this award,” Kurtz said. “I'm really pleased to be recognized for my teaching because it's something I put a lot of thought and energy into, and it's a testament to the quality training I've received in RLL. I've learned so much here and in a lot of ways am a product of the mentorship and opportunities I've received in the department.”

Kurtz said he began his teaching career somewhat naturally. His first experience teaching happened right after undergrad through TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) where he worked with  high schoolers in Gien, France, teaching culture and oral expression through discussion and games. After coming back to the US he taught French for two years in his master’s program at the University of Iowa, and then went back to France to teach English for a year at the Université de Pau et des pays de l'Adour. Finally, Kurtz came to U-M and taught in the ELP, French 235, and at the 270-level.

“I love how working as a GSI here allows equal opportunities for collaboration and independence,” Kurtz said. “I've learned a lot from colleagues who've shared resources and advice in the ELP. I've also had a lot of opportunities to experiment in the classroom. The chance to develop a course on my own has been amazing.”

As an educator, Kurtz said that he hopes students will find something within French and Francophone studies that sparks joy for them. He mentioned that students might discover ways to incorporate French into their future careers, or they might discover a passion for film, literature, music or visual art that they carry with them throughout their lives.

“I just hope that they'll see that learning languages can serve them professionally and help them grow personally, and that either motivation is a legitimate reason to study French or any language,” Kurtz said. 

Throughout his time working at RLL, Kurtz said he has learned the importance of collaboration and being able to lean on friends and colleagues. 

“Sometimes in grad school I think there's this pervasive belief that you're on your own, and it's true that sometimes the work can be isolating,” Kurtz said. “But my best thinking and best teaching have come from sharing my work and getting and giving feedback. What we do here is really a team effort.”