D. Kirkland, professor of speech, and chair of the Department of Speech, Humanities, Drama and Dance, has been selected to receive Temple College’s 2022 Claudia and W.T. Barnhart Teacher of the Year Award.

Kirkland has served as a member of the Temple College faculty since 2004. During her time at the College, she has been a proven leader in the classroom and an influential member of the Central Texas community.

Kirkland will be honored during the Temple College commencement ceremony on Saturday. The award includes a $2,000 stipend and the winner becomes Temple College’s nominee for the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award, which recognizes outstanding educators across the state.

“It is always nice to receive appreciation from your colleagues, but this award isn’t about me. It is about Temple College and how its administration, faculty and students strive for excellence,” Kirkland said. “The gifts that I want to give back are all about the importance of communication and presence, whether that presence is in person or online. Be present to each other.”

On campus, Kirkland is the director of the Temple College Humanities Series and has worked to create events that connect diverse local communities to the College, including the establishment of the LULAC scholarship program. She advocates for her faculty and her department, and she recently helped develop new degree programs in theatre and musical theatre.

“Mrs. Kirkland adopts a variety of student-centered projects to promote critical thinking, communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills among students,” wrote Dr. Radhakrishna Beeram, professor of humanities, in a letter supporting Kirkland for the award. “She always thinks out of the box, uses every medium and classroom technology to facilitate learning with engaging classroom presence.”


During the crisis time of COVID-19, Kirkland took unprecedented steps to reorganize classes online, addressing those challenges in a short amount of time. She provided integral support to learners and faculty who were not familiar with virtual teaching and online classrooms.

Off campus, Kirkland has been involved in a number of civic and community groups. She is a Distinguished Toastmaster in Toastmasters International, has served on the Temple Literacy Council and as a board member for the Temple Civic Theater. For six years, she served as the official “pronouncer” for the Bell County Spelling Bee.

“All these events helped her in developing a deeper awareness of challenges of students from diverse backgrounds,” Beeram wrote. “Her association as a faculty member of Temple College with other community organizations and agencies has enhanced the reputation of our institution. She takes every opportunity to make others know about their opportunities at Temple College.”

Kirkland, who has been teaching for more than 30 years, came to Temple College with significant teaching and higher education experience gained at several institutions throughout the country. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, her master’s from University of North Texas and all but a dissertation towards a PhD from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She also attended Southeastern Southern Baptist Seminary, where she pursued a Master of Divinity.

Kirkland and her husband Don live across the road from her parents in the country. They are avid landscape gardeners who enjoy living in an historic home west of Belton.