Institution: Waubonsee Community College
Why I teach: Education, to me, is sacred. Education is how we solve all of our problems, it’s how we better ourselves as individuals and as a society, and is perhaps, single-handedly, the most important endeavor humankind has undertaken. Schools should be Meccas, where learning is celebrated, and knowledge is cultivated. My graduate school mentors instilled in me that education is a process of personal change. I stand here humbled by that wisdom: Every class, every reading, and every assignment should challenge students’ preconceived notions about the world and should shape new, life-changing ideas and insights. If the student is internalizing the information, and truly incorporating the ideas into their understanding of the world, then the student must walk away somehow different. That is how we know education works. I believe I owe a debt to my mentors. It is my duty to create meaningful experiences for my students. Earlier in my career, I thought of education as important work, whereas today, I think it is more than important – it is everything. I have found that students enjoy the learning process more if they are on paths of self-discovery. The goal of education is to find new, more, and better loves. This is true inside and outside the classroom. But it is also true for me. As we embark on this quest, I too grow – I too change. I learn from my students just as they learn from me, and I believe that everyone is a learner, everyone is a teacher, and everyone is a leader. We must live these ideals each day, and make small changes in the lives of others whenever we can. This is an ancient kind of wisdom passed down from generation to generation. And for me, wisdom is the antidote to incivility and ignorance. We cultivate wisdom through experience and through knowledge. If our students are going to develop wisdom, they need our guidance. Teaching is good for the world. And that is why I teach.
Why I’m excited to attend the 2022 International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence: NISOD provides a space where those of us in higher education can roll up our sleeves, wade in the water, and rekindle the energy we need to excel as educators. There is something about a shared experience: We face common obstacles, have to meet similar challenges, and are questioning the same kinds of practices and methods. What is unique about NISOD is that this conference targets community colleges across the nation, and brings together great minds, professionals, and leaders to celebrate, discover, engage, and so much more. Each year, I come away with new insights and new perspectives that not only shape my philosophy of education but have real, practical impacts on the day-to-day of the job itself. Rarely is there an opportunity to work in both the abstract/ideal and the everyday/real worlds. NISOD’s programming is a highlight of my academic year, and I expect no less from this term’s conference!
Fun fact: I am a classically trained painter who specializes in watercolor landscapes and portraits.