Assistant Professor of English Erica Ringelspaugh is described often as an extremely supportive, dedicated educator. Teaching is second nature to her, having eavesdropped on the conversations between her parents. Her mother, Betty, taught family and consumer economics and her father, John, taught auto mechanics and drafting. While her parents were finishing work in the Tomah Area School District, she spent plenty of time absorbing the energy of high school hallways.
She says she had an early interest—by age 10— in public speaking and writing and decided to pursue teaching. After a tour of UW-Stevens Point, Ringelspaugh had found her fit. On campus, Ringelspaugh joined the University Writers. She served as the club’s president and editor of Barney Street, the group’s literary magazine. Ringelspaugh contributed fictional pieces; and she recalls the memoir about her relationship with her grandfather.
Ringelspaugh taught English for more than a decade in the Adams-Friendship School District. It was there that her path back to UWSP began. Her students were involved in the Connections Project, with former UWSP English Professor Barbara Dixon. The Connections Project, formed in 2006, pairs rural and underserved high school students with preservice English education students at UWSP, guiding their comprehension of works of young adult literature.
It is a highlight of each spring semester, Ringelspaugh said. Then, in the fall, students who have completed Connections work diligently to develop their own curriculum.
“Watching them struggle, watching them come out with something beautiful, it’s such rewarding work,” she said.
As much as she enjoys the deep practice that her English methods courses provide, Ringelspaugh is equally excited to teach her introductory Freshman English and Reading Fiction courses for the play and camaraderie they have together.
In nominating Ringelspaugh for the Teaching in Excellence Award for 2022, Lauren Gantz, assistant professor of English said her colleague’s planning and effectiveness always comes through in her teaching. She finds ways to meet every student where they are and grow their capacity. Her work has raised the profile of the UWSP Department of English across the state.
“Professor Ringelspaugh’s teaching has helped us attract and retain majors. Multiple students who have taken her English 106 class decided to declare an English teaching major or minor because her course was so inspiring and engaging,” said Gantz.
Ringelspaugh said she follows many former students through their careers and continues to provide support to them. The high school teacher at heart was thrilled to receive the University Excellence in Teaching Award after just six years of teaching English at UWSP.
“It’s nice because your colleagues are admiring and recognizing you for what you’re doing,” said Ringelspaugh.