How long have you been an educator?
What is your favorite part about being a community or technical college educator?
My favorite part of being a community college instructor is witnessing people change their lives. Students can go from not being great at coursework to getting into the program of their dreams with the improved skills they gain at community college. In a few years they can change their lives and the lives of their children. I play a small role in that accomplishment, but it is the most rewarding aspect of my job.
What is your best piece of advice for new or existing colleagues at community or technical colleges in your field?
When I graduated from graduate school, my mentor, Dr. Mark Ludorf, gave me great advice. I told him I was afraid of not knowing everything I needed to know as a teacher. He said, “If you do not know something, say ‘I am sorry. I do not know the answer to that question, but I will find out.'” I would like to pass that advice on to a new teacher. I would also advise them on occasion to ask the class, “Does anyone know the answer?” Learning, and sometimes teaching, can be a collaborative experience.
How do you connect with your students?
I respect them. I value their opinions. I believe if I respect them and expect respect from them in return, then together we can achieve their goals. I encourage them and challenge them. My expectations for them are high, but I believe that with effort they can meet those expectations. Finally, I share a little bit of myself with them, such as my love for Star Trek, to help connect with them as people.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?
I would like to have dinner with President Obama. I would like to know how he views his time in office now that he has been out of office for many years. I would love to ask the same questions of President Clinton, President George Bush, and President Jimmy Carter. As a student and teacher of human behavior, personal insight fascinates me.
Share a memorable teaching experience and explain why it was so impactful.
I had a student who could only read at a fourth-grade level. He came to Angelina College and went through the developmental classes and learned to read. By the time he finished at Angelina College, he had become a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the oldest and largest community college honor society in the world. Less than one percent of students have a G.P.A. of 3.5 or better. Not only was he one of those students, when he graduated he was selected as one of the top community college students in the state of Texas. As a former Phi Theta Kappa advisor, I have witnessed many students with similar stories of success.