Teaching’s In My Blood, And In the Blood of My Wonderful Mentors

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Dr. Leeanne Bell McManus and me co-teaching our first-year students.

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I remember my mother asking me the following question just as I was about to graduate from Towson University with a degree in Mass Communication:

Are you sure you don’t want to stay another year or so and get a teaching degree?

No, I told her. I did not. I did not want to teach high school or middle school or elementary school.

If I ever teach, I’d like to teach college, I told her. And we left it at that.

Three months after I graduated, I enrolled in the graduate school at Towson. I entered the Professional Writing program with a focus on public relations for the public and private sectors, as I was working at the Baltimore Orioles in the communication department. I decided to get that master’s degree because I had started to fall in love with learning and because I meant what I said—that maybe a master’s degree could get me a part-time job teaching at a college while I worked at the Baltimore Orioles.

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Fast-forward 25 years, and here I am, teaching full-time at Stevenson University in the Business Communication department where I instruct communication and writing courses.

I love my job.

I loved my job in baseball, too.

It all began after I was asked by a friend to teach a course in public speaking at Anne Arundel Community College back in 1993. I fell in love with teaching the way you fall in love with a person sometimes—rather quickly, like you’ve been hit by a thunderbolt.

My mother taught English for 30+ years, my aunts were teachers, my uncle is a college professor, and we all generally believe in the nature of education, so I’m not surprised that I fell for my new occupation just as they did.

You will not get rich as a teacher monetarily. Few do. But you get rich in so many other ways from it, ways that you cannot possibly ascertain a true price. It is, for the most part, priceless.

From my graduate professor Dr. Geoge Freidman (Towson) and Cheryl Klein (National University) to Mademoiselle Hammerstrom who taught French (her infinite patience was astounding) to Mrs. Shepard who taught History of Maryland and Mrs. Susek who taught Creative Writing, all at Severna Park High School…thank you so much for being great examples of the kind of teacher I aspire to be. And to Chip Rouse…my teaching mentor. I wouldn’t be where I am today without your constant guidance and support.

I’m still learning as I go, still trying to improve courses, and still looking for ways to engage students and get them as excited about learning as I continue to be. That’s why we attend conferences, pick each other’s brains, and read about new technologies and innovations for classroom teaching.

Teaching is a constant learning curve.

And I’m still thunderstruck.

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The students of travel writing class from a few years back, the first time I taught the course. I was so proud of them!
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