President Barron and Theresa Clemente

Believing In The Privilege of Teaching

Penn State Wilkes-Barre Instructor of Business Theresa Clemente honored with 2017 George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching
By: Rachel Olszewski

“Honoring those who have expressed a strong commitment to student learning, achievement and personal growth is one of the most priceless gifts that can ever be given,” explains Penn State Wilkes-Barre alum, Megan Millo. “Mrs. Clemente believes that it is a privilege to teach every day, to influence young minds and to guide them onto the path of success. No student ever fails in the eyes of Terry Clemente and she believes even the most difficult students are capable of the utmost success. That’s the mantra she lives by, and the mantra she teaches.”

 “My teaching career began at 9AM on a Monday in 1981, at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. At the age of 24 and fresh out of graduate school, I was working full time as a Marketing Research Assistant at Robinson Associates, a Philadelphia-based Marketing Research firm,” states Theresa (Terry) Clemente. “The CEO, heavily involved with marketing research experts at Wharton, was passionate about education. By suggesting that I teach one course at a college right around the corner from the office, Mr. Robinson set me on a career path that was unanticipated and full of surprises.”

Terry Clemente Family

Terry with her husband Steve and their two sons, Michael and Jeff

Credit: Penn State

Terry moved to her hometown a few years later, joining her family business as a marketing director but her passion for teaching was lurking in the background. She continued teaching as an adjunct at King’s College and Marywood University, and was offered a full time teaching position at Misericordia University, and in 2000, at Penn State University.

Terry was honored Wednesday, April 19th by President Eric Barron with The George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, named for the seventh president of the University (1882-1906). The Atherton is presented each year to six faculty members from across the Commonwealth Campuses and University Park who have devoted substantial effort to undergraduate teaching. Due to this criteria, the award is student driven, with the nomination process beginning with students.

“It is true to say that Mrs. Clemente is a dedicated teacher, however she is more than that to me,” states current student, Susan Huey. “She is a friend that will always be when I need her. I have never seen anyone go to the lengths she has to make sure myself and other students succeed the way she has.”

“My teaching philosophy evolved from past experiences. It is intrapreneurial - driven by an innovative, creative and collaborative style, with the objective of motivating, encouraging, advising and empowering students. This style is continuously challenging, and is not without taking risks that the approach may need future revisions. It can be described as “bringing the classroom and the community together,” says Clemente. “Engaging with community partners, through service learning projects, entrepreneurial events, internships, benefit all partners. The objective is to develop strong relationships with and among students and the community. Ultimately, my teaching philosophy conveys living with passion. My wishes are that my students will be blessed with the quality of work life that I have experienced. Through eye-opening experiences in my classroom, I hope they live their career with passion, understand that hard work pays off, are intrapreneurial and relationship focused, and pass on their personal and professional integrity instilled in them during their time at Penn State University.”

Her award nominators; fellow faculty members and students, past and present echo similar thoughts on Terry’s passion and spirit.

“To see as much passion and enthusiasm that Ms. Clemente has for teaching and seeing her students succeed is without a doubt one of the most inspiring experiences I have had as a student and alumni of Penn State University,” writes Stephanie Bartz.

Lindsay Empfield agrees, “When I look back upon the time that I spent at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, I can identify many areas of my development that were guided by Mrs. Clemente. Whether through her teaching style, class projects, club mentoring, or honors advising, Mrs. Clemente is an instrumental resource for her students. Moving forward, I am sure that the lessons I learned under her will continue to apply to my education and career.”

In 2015, Terry took on the additional challenge of co-coordinator of the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Honors Program. A challenge fellow co-coordinator Bill Bachman says she has surpassed with ease.

“Her rigorous standards with regard to students in the classroom and her own teaching goals and objectives are admirable and at the same time milestones of academic quality,” explains Bachman.

Terry Clemente with collegues

Terry with Penn State Wilkes-Barre Chancellor, Dale Jones and award nominator, Albert Lozano-Nieto, Penn State Wilkes-Barre Professor of Engineering

Credit: Penn State

“Our Honors Program has significantly improved since Ms. Clemente accepted to becoming the co-advisor to this group of students,” states fellow faculty member Albert Lozano-Nieto. “She has lent her expertise and warm personality to make each and every student welcome in this group. She had lead several activities for this group and asked them present their reflections on these experiences to the whole campus community. Under her leadership, our Honors group continues to grow and improve the academic experience for these students.”

“Her office door was always wide open for questions, concerns or even just some good conversation,” says Millo. “As a role model, I admired her for many things other than her teaching. Her kind, big heart, her sense of style, and her energetic stories and experiences, all reminded me of the kind of person that I wanted to be. With every class, every conversation, I always walked away more confident knowing exactly what it was that I needed to do.”