Dr. Brad East is assistant professor of theology, and he’s known since high school he wanted to be just that. Now, only five years into his dream job, he’s earned the honor of Abilene Christian University’s Teacher of the Year for 2022.
“The very idea that I could read, write and teach about theology for a living was almost too good to be true,” East said of realizing his career aspirations as a teenager.
After completing his undergraduate degree at ACU, East earned his Master of Divinity from Emory University and then his Ph.D. from Yale University. He returned to teach in ACU’s Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry five years ago.
“I tell my students I have been in the classroom since I was 5 years old. I just never left,” East said.
Now that he’s on the teaching side of the classroom, East cites three main principles in his pedagogy: conducting class as a conversation, helping students receive the traditions of Christian theology as a gift, and introducing students to a faith that is living and active.
Based on the Teacher of the Year nominations submitted by East’s students, he’s succeeding in those goals. Students said of him and his class:
- “It was not about learning facts but understanding ideas. … Dr. East was always available to ask questions and pushed us to ask more questions and didn’t shut us down, no matter what.”
- “He strives to go above and beyond by being a presence of Christ to his students, and has inspired me both in my studies and in my walk with Christ!”
- “Dr. East has shown so much compassion and love for teaching in the two classes I have had him. He understands not everyone knows everything about religion and meets you where you are.”
- “He wants his students to learn and he does an amazing job of demonstrating how a teacher can be a ‘hard’ teacher but ultimately really help his students learn.”
- “I always enjoyed Dr. East’s classes because he always made it interesting and engaging. It is rare for me to take a professor again if they are not in my department, and I was glad to be able to take multiple Bible classes with this professor, because he made it so I wanted to go to class and learn.”
As Teacher of the Year, East will ride in the Homecoming Parade in October, give the charge to graduating students in ACU’s December Commencement ceremony and speak at the University Scholars awards ceremony next spring. – Wendy Kilmer