Chase Ochrach, a PhD candidate in the School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology, is a recipient of a UW–Madison Campus-Wide Teaching Assistant (TA) Award for 2021.
Ochrach received the Excellence in Community-based Learning Teaching Award — a new award this year — which recognizes TAs who have demonstrated outstanding instruction using a community-based learning approach.
Ochrach studies predictors and outcomes of justice system involvement as well as the impacts of incarceration on mental health. She has taught in numerous counseling psychology courses, including the UW BASES Program, a project working to build the capacity of schools, teachers, and families to better meet the needs of young children experiencing homelessness in Madison.
“As a psychologist-in-training, I believe the most powerful avenue for learning about issues of social justice, oppression, invalidation, and systemic marginalization is through connecting with the community and the real individuals implicated in these intersecting systems,” said Ochrach. “I see community-based learning as essential to developing an awareness of oneself, one’s culture, and one’s biases. I believe that students need to feel safe to be able to learn, and this applies to both our undergraduate student mentors in the UW BASES program and the elementary school student mentees with whom they work. I value a community-based learning approach because I have seen how this program has reciprocally influenced both mentors and mentees in our program. I make an effort to demonstrate empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard for my students in the hopes that, through this modeling, they will carry those qualities into their interactions with their mentees.”
Ochrach formed this teaching philosophy through experiences as a mental health clinician and by witnessing growth and change occur in her clients within the context of a genuine, validating relationship. “I believe a validating pedagogical relationship is necessary for students to feel free to ask questions and make themselves vulnerable as they learn to support young children and learn to challenge their own biases and assumptions about homelessness and society more generally,” she said.
UW–Madison employs over 2,100 teaching assistants across its 200-plus undergraduate major and certificate programs. Whether teaching in lecture halls, classrooms, and labs on campus or leading learning opportunities in the wider community, their work is vital to fulfilling the university’s educational mission and the Wisconsin Idea. To recognize the excellence of TAs at UW–Madison, the UW–Madison Graduate School supports the College of Letters and Science in administering the TA awards.
Learn about all of the 2021 award winners.