Dr. Amani Wazwaz has been named the 2021 Master Educator for her passion for educating not just her students but also the college community.

Since 2005, Wazwaz has taught communication and literature classes at Moraine Valley. Her passion in the classroom has led her to discovering new ways to get students actively engaged in hands-on learning. Because of that approach, she aided in the college grant-supported project Mosaics: Muslim Voices in America. She helped devise several artistic ideas to engage students and employees with understanding Muslim culture, especially through her House of Wisdom programs and activities, which she also integrated in her course curriculum.

Wazwaz conducted interactive lectures in the college Library on the House of Wisdom and some of its key scholars. She also set up a table during the college’s spring and fall fests, where anyone could dress up as a scholar from Muslim civilizations during the Middle Ages with a sign describing who they were and the influential contributions they made to society. She also has written and performed in plays dedicated to House of Wisdom scholars.

“For hundreds of years, Muslim civilizations contributed to the development of the House of Wisdom, which were different research and academic libraries that made extraordinary advances in medicine, mathematics, science, astronomy, philosophy and other fields. The House of Wisdom stands as a significant symbol of the power of cooperative learning and the incredible advances that are made when lives are committed to hard work and dedication to serving others,” Wazwaz said. “I wanted my students and college community to be inspired by this model of cooperative multicultural and dedicated learning.”

Throughout this year, without the ability to interact in person with students, faculty and staff, Wazwaz has led a project – Moraine Reads – a collaboration between the Library and Communications Department, which encourages anyone to record themselves sharing their favorite fiction or nonfiction texts. Because of these various projects and her passion for the work, Wazwaz was given this award.

“I am beyond grateful to my students, my nominator, Moraine Valley and my colleagues for this beautiful recognition. I don’t mean just the award but also the actual opportunity to teach, which is a daily reward. The dream of being a ‘master educator’ can only begin to be fulfilled in a giving and supportive environment. I have been blessed with this supportive college community and sincere students who are committed to the educational journeys of all. There can’t be ‘master educators’ without the students, and Moraine Valley students are committed to their educational journeys and doing their best to learn and develop,” she said. “This award is such an honor, and the work of an educator is never over. An educator is constantly learning, preparing, modifying, and paying attention to best serve the needs of students and the college. Educators all over the world are constantly modifying their craft for their students to best serve them. Teaching is self-transformative, and there is nothing more fulfilling than seeing the transformation of students who have taken the power of their education in their own hands and moved forward in life.”