Cary Adkinson Ph.D., associate professor of criminal justice, has been selected as one of Better Tarrant’s Talented 10: Education.
Adkinson was selected for his talented innovations in the classroom and the impact he has on students. The 10 honorees are BetterTarrant.com’s brightest young educators of primary, secondary and post-secondary schools for 2018. They were selected from the 20 Independent School Districts and 60 institutions for higher education across Tarrant County.
“It's humbling to receive recognition by your campus and community for doing something that you enjoy so much and that brings such meaning and purpose to your life,” Adkinson said.
Adkinson was recognized on Saturday, Sept. 29, during a celebration in Arlington.
“Dr. Adkinson’s dedication exemplifies our ‘Smaller. Smarter.’ promise of providing students the one-on-one mentorship and critical thinking skills they need to thrive in their careers and make a difference in the world,” President Frederick G. Slabach said. “He is shaping the next generation of criminal justice professionals, who make an incredible impact on our society.”
Adkinson is thankful that this award will help alert Tarrant County about the exemplary educators and exciting events at Texas Wesleyan.
“Our students will tell you the faculty is at the top of the list, so I'm happy to help spread the word to let greater Tarrant County know ‘Smaller. Smarter.’ is our superpower!”
Adkinson writes, researches, and teaches his students about good & evil and what it means to be a hero through comic books. Teaching students about criminal justice by using comics allows him to connect with students and keep them engaged and excited about new material.
“I think all teachers hope that they help students become their own best teachers,” Adkinson said. “It's much more than teaching them facts and information; it's about teaching them how to use their critical faculties to better understand the world around them and their place in it.”
Adkinson keeps his classes fun and engaging by teaching criminal justice holistically. He teaches each course with the big picture in mind. This way, students get a better idea of how their course topic fits into criminal justice and their future careers as a whole.
“You don't have to be a criminal justice teacher to see that we're facing a critical juncture in human history,” he said. “How we believe and behave has potentially disastrous consequences for our present and our future. So teachers should strive to give students the tools to discriminate between fact and fiction and apply principles of evidence-based decision-making. At the same time, we shouldn't lose sight of the importance of nurturing empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence to supplement their critical thinking skills. It might not be an exaggeration to say that this could play an integral role in saving the world, and I can't think of anything more important than that.”
One of the most rewarding things about teaching for Adkinson is when former students reach out to tell him about the positive difference he has made in their lives. He cherishes those moments because it confirms that everything he does to help his students was worth it.
“A great example of this is one of our recent graduates (Nikki Lockwood) who made a major drug bust on her first day on the job as a police officer after graduating from the academy. She contacted me directly to let me know how much she appreciated what she learned in my classes and how it helped prepare her for police work. This isn't the first time I've received that type of feedback, and hopefully, it won't be the last.”
Adkinson impacts all of his students because he cares. He cares about his students by making sure they have an excellent learning environment while facilitating critical thinking in conversations.
"The biggest impact for criminal justice students is an appreciation of the tremendous power they wield over other people's lives,” Adkinson said. “A wise man once said, 'With great power must also come great responsibility.' This is the main theme in every class I teach."