Learning from the one of the best

LIHUE — Ann Y. Kennedy isn’t a typical business and accounting instructor.

She raps topics to her students, plays accounting games with them and occasionally takes them on excursions.

“For the first time, many of these students are being introduced to accounting. It’s very challenging; it’s foreign,” said Kennedy, a recipient of the 2016 Board or Regents Excellence In Teaching Award. “That’s part of the learning: Enjoying the teaching and learning helps them to remember and learn the material. There’s that bridge right there from academic learning to applying it.”

Although her teaching may be atypical, Kennedy says it creates engagement with her students.

“The students and I created an accounting cycle game as a project. I created a rap song,” she said. “I introduced some of the topics of the semester by making it fun, and instead of reciting it from a piece of paper, I rapped the song to a rap beat.”

Kennedy is among 14 instructors awarded the honor, which recognizes faculty who exhibit an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal values beneficial to students.

Kennedy was the sole KCC instructor to win the award and served as the lead adviser of Alpha Pi Xi, Kauai’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society from 2013-2015.

“Her drive for teaching comes from seeing students aim high with their educational, career, and personal goals and watching them achieve what they did not dream possible,” said David Iha, UH Board of Regent for Kauai County.

Bringing students on field trips to CPA firms as well as to Koloa Rum also bridges the gap between school and real-world experience.

“For a lot of my students, that’s something that’s really eye opening for them because it’s something that they haven’t seen before,” she said. “My third-semester students — they’re in an accounting course that is all about manufacturing and managerial accounting, so the managerial side cycle in itself is difficult to understand if you don’t see it happening.”

Winning the award, for Kennedy, is a humbling experience that validates her work.

“This award represents a lot of things about my teaching,” she said. “I try to do my very best to help students learn accounting material, which is not easy because it’s not something they’ve been regularly exposed to in grade school or middle or high school.”

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