As a teacher, Myra Weiger sticks with a golden rule: Be a model of what you want people to be.
“That’s your job,’’ Weiger said about the teaching profession. “That way, students know what they’re supposed to do.’’
With that perspective, Weiger, a professor at Kean since 1964, has positively influenced thousands of students.
Her dedication has garnered many accolades with the latest coming from The Rotary Club of Watchung-Warren, which is honoring Weiger with the Jean Harris Award. The annual award, named after the wife of Paul Harris, the founder of the Rotary Club, is granted to a non-Rotary member who voluntarily serves unselfishly, conducts activities that further the principles of Rotary and has done work that measurably benefits the community at large.
Weiger will receive the award at a June 5 ceremony.
“I’m so honored to receive this award and it means so much to me because of where it came from,’’ Weiger said. “I know what the Rotary Club has done for children. They’ve helped out in a number of difficult situations.’’
She added that the Rotary Club also values a concept she has always treasured through her decades of teaching: teamwork.
“Teamwork to me is a natural plan and I’m a natural person,’’ Weiger said. “For me, it’s the way to go.’’
At Kean, Weiger has been a leader of many teams. She has served as a professor of middle and secondary education, chair of the elementary, middle and secondary program, coordinator of the elementary education program and professor of English Language Arts and Children’s Literature and Literature Across the Curriculum. Additonally, Weiger teaches a course at Kean to certify and train Animal Control officers, which falls in line with her position as president of the Hillside-based People For Animals, a clinic that provides low cost spay-neutering services for more than 17,000 animals.
When Weiger encounters students studying to become teachers, she advises them to never yell at youngsters in their classes.
“Yelling is not teaching,’’ she said. “That only creates problems. I train them to understand the kids. They all have different viewpoints and are coming from different places.”
Weiger added that having a sense of humor has worked in her favor.
“You have to be able to laugh and not be so uptight,’’ she said. “In life, you gotta have patience and a sense of humor makes the children comfortable.’’
Weiger received her bachelor’s degree in English and Speech/Theatre/Speech Correction at Montclair State University. She received a master’s degree in Education from Kean and earned a doctorate in English Education from Rutgers University.
Dr. M. Ann Walko, a professor of elementary and bilingual education at Kean, nominated Weiger for the Rotary honor.
“One thing that’s apparent about Myra is that she has lived a life of service,’’ Walko said. “She never looked for awards or words of thanks. She did what she had to do to improve the quality of life for others rather than just herself. She creates win-win outcomes.’’