“I try to get the students to love writing the way I love writing. I think that says it all.”
At the very heart of Martha Gehringer's success as an instructor is her passion for writing.
For more than 35 years, Gehringer has been sharing that passion—particularly her love of poetry—with many who have passed through her door, whether they are students in first-year seminar classes or writing, rhetoric, and communication (WRC), the program she and four other faculty members developed.
While she teaches such core WRC subjects as basic writing, creative writing, business writing, and journalism, Gehringer also focuses much of her time and energy on the First-Year Seminar Program (FYS) and special topics courses. She's taught FYS classes on a wide range of subjects, from John James Audubon and Constantine Rafinesque to her current service-learning course affectionately dubbed the "do-gooders" class.
Gehringer is also widely published, having contributed poetry to numerous publications. She has won a Bingham Award for Excellence in Teaching and received Lilly Foundation and Kentucky Foundation for Women grants, among others.
Perhaps Gehringer's most important contribution to Transylvania's academic landscape, though, lies in the extremely successful Writing Center she created in the early 1980s and directed until 2010. Located in Haupt Humanities, the Writing Center carries out Gehringer's vision to "provide a service for students and faculty dedicated to addressing writing concerns across the spectrum."
Regardless of what Gehringer teaches or with whom she works, she approaches her students in much the same way her own "extraordinary" teachers approached her.
"I'm very nurturing as a teacher," she says. "I'm indulgent in that I don't try to impose knowledge on them. I try to draw out of them their strengths."