Associate Professor Andrea Heiss, right, receives a Writing Intensive Teaching Excellence Award from the Campus Writing Program on May 19, 2022, in Ellis Auditorium. The awards ceremony was held before the keynote address of the 2022 Celebration of Teaching. Heiss is the director of the Arts-in-Depth Program at the J-School and teaches cultural reporting in the magazine journalism area of study. Standing with Heiss is Amy Lannin, director of the Campus Writing Program and an associate professor of English education in the College of Education. Photo: Nate Brown
Columbia, Mo. (May 20, 2022) — Andrea Heiss, an associate professor and director of the Art-in-Depth Program at the Missouri School of Journalism, has received a Writing Intensive Teaching Excellence Award. The award from Mizzou’s Campus Writing Program comes with a $500 prize and recognizes exemplary teaching that uses writing to foster critical thought.
“I’m delighted and honored to receive this award, and it was very encouraging to read the letters of support from students in my application,” Heiss said. “I think every School of Journalism professor is dedicated to their students — we work as a team. I find it a joy to walk into the classroom and share my passion.”
Heiss teaches critical analysis of the arts to her students, who are tasked with writing reviews of music, visual art, books and theatre, as well as analyzing the reviews of working critics. In addition, students experience local art exhibits and performances, a Missouri Method approach of hands-on learning that Heiss said helps students develop both theoretical and practical understandings of art criticism.
“Dr. Heiss teaches students to appreciate the wide applications of the journalistic process, and of writing’s value both in describing art and as art itself,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism. “By presenting students with educational opportunities both inside and outside the classroom, she enables the memorable Missouri Method experiences that make for informed, culturally competent journalists.”
Heiss accepted the award Thursday at Ellis Auditorium, where she was presented with the award’s distinctive trophy: a miniature replica of one of Mizzou’s famous columns.
A 15-year veteran of the School of Journalism, Heiss’ interest in arts communication goes back further than her academic career. Before coming to Mizzou, she served as education curator at the Miami Art Museum (now known as Pérez Art Museum Miami), where she was in charge of introducing museum-goers to the art and artists through written texts, labels, lectures and other means of helping visitors connect with the works on display.
“This has never occurred to me before, but I was the journalist in the museum,” Heiss said.
Building on her experience as a bridge between art and the public, Heiss is now teaching students to build their own bridges. And just as her teaching style emphasizes going beyond the classroom with real-world experiences, she also makes a point of going above and beyond to work with students to help them succeed — a trait that leaves an impression on students like rising sophomore Anna Colletto, editor-in-chief at the student-run newspaper The Maneater.
“Going into my first set of courses, I had a great deal of insecurity about my newness and lack of knowledge,” Colletto said. “Dr. Heiss changed all that. Not only was she a phenomenal educator to learn from, but she consistently encouraged me and lifted me up for my work. On several occasions, I would talk with her after class about my future plans, passions, and goals for my time at Mizzou. Just as she encouraged me in class, she provided the resources I needed to establish myself and explore a more complex education plan.”
Indeed, what keeps Heiss coming back for more is the thrill of seeing students progress from uncertain beginners to those who appreciate the role of journalism as what she calls “a necessary component of the creative process.” It all boils down, once again, to building bridges.
“My goal is to get students out of the classroom and into their community, into the world of art,” she said.
Updated: May 20, 2022