When Kevin Navratil started college, he was unaware of and uninterested in politics. Now he tries to light the fire to steer his students and others through the complicated, everchanging sphere of political science. He is the 2022 Master Educator.
His nominators highlighted Navratil’s work as the coordinator of The Democracy Commitment (TDC), which engages people in civic learning and democratic practice. He has brought faculty together to present at various TDC events that reach not only the students and staff but also the community. Throughout the pandemic, Navratil continued to conduct events virtually to keep everyone engaged.
“He deserves to be Master Educator not only for his classroom abilities, but also the cross discipline camaraderie he has created in his role. He has demonstrated leadership, the ability to use technology to enhance learning, and created events that promoted retention and success during a time when it would have been easy for students, staff and community to disconnect from the college,” said one of his nominators.
Navratil teaches American National Government, International Relations, Comparative Government and Political Science. He spends an hour reading world and national news every day to keep up with the constant changes and then plans how to make that material relatable to anyone. He was happy to continue the TDC activities during the pandemic.
Within the last year, Navratil collaborated with Dr. DeWitt Scott, student success specialist, to start the Difficult Conversations Initiative. They narrowed down a list of challenging topics that should be discussed in sessions over several months this spring. They discuss these topics in a safe space for everyone to understand and learn all aspects without pushback or judgment.
“I applaud Kevin’s enthusiasm and his professionalism in facilitating these potentially heated dialogues and ensuring that all voices are heard and that everyone leaves having learned about democracy, our version of democracy and ourselves,” said one of his nominators.
When Navratil started teaching 16 years ago, there was more shared reality and similar conversations about topics. Today, many people are fragmented about what they know and where they learn about politics, which makes it challenging and rewarding to navigate, he explained.
When he learned about the honor, Navratil was happy but gives much of the credit to others for making TDC so successful.
“I was surprised to win. It’s surreal and very humbling. I know how much other people contributed for me to get this,” Navratil said. “Getting this award is like a team award. I had a dozen colleagues participate in events. I can’t do it all on my own. I had a community volunteering their time and expertise. I’m the winner, but I’m just the leader of this team.”