Osterhus retiring from Catawba College

  • Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 12:56 a.m.

The professor whom students call “Dr. O” was recognized by the students and her colleagues in the Catawba College Department of Teacher Education at a retirement reception held April 30 in the atrium of Ketner Hall.

Dr. Cynthia B. Osterhus, an associate professor of teacher education and director of the Shirley Peeler Ritchie Academy for Teaching at Catawba, will retire at the end of this academic year after 10 years as a full-time faculty member at the college.

Osterhus is a 1973 alumna of Catawba who earned her undergraduate degree in mathematics. She holds her M.Ed. in mathematics and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teaching in Mathematics from UNC Greensboro.

Before joining the faculty at Catawba, she was a mathematics teacher with the Salisbury City Schools. Her prowess in the classroom earned her recognition as the N. C. Teacher of the Year in 1987, as a Teacher in Space Finalist with NASA in 1985, as N.C. Gifted and Talented Teacher of the Year in 1984, and as Outstanding Young Educator of Rowan County in 1983. Catawba honored her with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1986.

Osterhus worked for Horizons Unlimited of Salisbury between 1990 and 2002, serving first as director and space science specialist, and later as director of staff development.

At Catawba, she helped create Ritchie Academy for Teaching which has welcomed over 70 West Scholars since its inception and awarded over $4 million in scholarships. At her retirement reception, representatives from the six cohorts of West Scholars at that Academy were on hand to fete her.

Elizabeth Sloop ’11, a member of the ’07-’08 inaugural cohort of West Scholars, recalled Dr. O’s admonition to her and her peers to “never be afraid” to ask questions, to fail or to try something new. She said she wished for Osterhus that her retirement “will be your next greatest adventure.”

Rachel Gallup ’16, a member of the ’12-’13 cohort of West Scholars, quoted Karl Menninger saying of Osterhus “what the teacher is is more than what she teaches.” She joked to Osterhus that the ’12-’13 cohort was the one “that finally did you in.”

A grateful and retrospective Osterhus said of her time at Catawba: “The joy of teaching at Catawba was the freedom to exercise the art of teaching. What has kept me in teaching (and excited about teaching) even after 40 years, is that I don’t know how to do it right. I only know that each time I interact with students, I learn something about how they learn, and what I learn gives me ideas for new ways of teaching.”

Osterhus is one of two faculty members who will retire at the end of this academic year. Dr. James Beard, a professor of chemistry, joined the Catawba faculty in 1988 and he too will retire. He was feted and recognized at Catawba’s homecoming activities by his colleagues and former students for his pending retirement. Both Osterhus and Beard will be recognized during Catawba’s Commencement Exercises on May 11 for their contributions as faculty members of the college.

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