When Linda Gottermeier began her career at RIT/NTID in 1977, it seemed unlikely she would ever be honored as a teacher because she worked as a technician in NTID’s hearing aid shop.
Thirty-five years later, Gottermeier is an associate professor/rehabilitative audiologist in NTID’s communication studies and services department, and a 2013 recipient of the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching.
Born in Norfolk, Va., Gottermeier grew up in Rochester and moved to Canoga Park, Calif., and El Paso, Texas, following her father who was a technical sales representative for Eastman Kodak Co. She earned bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and audiology/speech pathology from Nazareth College in Rochester. She received her master’s degree in audiology from the State University College at Geneseo and her doctorate in audiology from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pa.
“I started off doing public school speech therapy, but I felt I could not make an impact seeing 800 children a week,” she says. So she accepted a job as a hearing aid technician at NTID.
She was asked if she wanted to teach, but she originally declined, thinking she’d be too shy to stand in front of a class. Her mentor, Jerry Walter, now a research faculty member at NTID, convinced her to try it.
“Jerry had the confidence in me and pushed me to get my master’s degree and put me in the classroom,” she says. “He was and continues to be a superstar advocate of women at a time when it usually did not happen.”
He said she seemed to have unbounded energy. “Linda was always very detail oriented,” he says. “She had a huge amount of pent up energy that could be put to use.”
Gottermeier still uses her expertise working with students and their hearing aids and helping them improve their receptive skills including speechreading and listening if they seek that help.
But she’s just as comfortable now in the classroom. She motivates her students to do community projects, which have included raising money for storm victims and helping the homeless. She also helps them prepare for job interviews, asking questions an employer would and offering tips about what to wear and how to act when applying for a job.
“I really grew to love teaching and enjoy advocating for students who are deaf,” she says.
Some of Gottermeier’s students have limited English skills, like Eva Skovli, a student from Norway. Skovli has returned to Norway but has continued her contact with Gottermeier.
“She truly wants and believes that her students can be successful,” Skovli says. “She is a hard-working teacher and creative in her way of teaching.”
Her boundless energy is still apparent. Off campus, Gottermeier has volunteered for the Special Olympics, Southeast YMCA Swim Team, Synchronized Skating Team for the Genesee Figure Skating Club and the Advent House.
But she’s not content with her status quo. “I am still learning how to be a better teacher,” Gottermeier says. “Any time someone observes me in the classroom, I ask how I can improve. I feel so privileged to work at RIT/NTID.”