There are three ways to ultimate success: 1. be kind, 2. be kind, 3. be kind.
When I’m teaching, I feel as though I’m living out my purpose in life. Our students are a significant source of that purpose for me. Their curiosity, their genuine concern for others, and their sincere commitment to make positive change in the world inspire me! Our Community Nonprofit Leadership major affords our students and me the opportunity to look at both “big picture” issues that affect our global community, and day-to-day challenges that impact individuals and neighborhoods. We do our best, together, to engage with the world of ideas and the reality of what contributes to healthy community life. SoHE is the best atmosphere for me to teach what I do and to serve our Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies because it’s one of the places on our campus where big ideas and ‘wicked problems’ collide with creative thinking and our collective search for solutions – every day!
My Teaching Philosophy: My approach to teaching is best characterized by the frequently-referenced notion of a teacher as, “a guide on the side, and not a sage on the stage.” Great teaching (one of my goals!) welcomes and celebrates students’ contributions to their own – and their classmates’ – learning. Our students come to us with their own experiences; their own stories. They have families, and hometowns, and professional experiences, and community service encounters – all things that can contribute to their more robust understanding of any of the content we/I can offer through our CNPL curriculum.
And, that’s not easy! Noted author and educator, Parker Palmer, captures this challenge well when he says,
“We must enter, not evade, the tangles of teaching so we
can understand them better and negotiate them with more
grace, not only to guard our own spirits but also
to serve our students well.”
My Background: My dad was a teacher. His career in education included coaching, too. So, when I finished my undergraduate degree in Philosophy and English Composition, and I was challenged with finding my first “real” job, teaching seemed a natural fit because I grew up with my father as a role model. The path to college instruction took me through a good number of twists and turns along the way! In addition to my work as a teacher and administrator in private schools, I developed an interest – and pursued it – in nonprofit leadership and fundraising. It was in 2004 when I contacted one of my graduate school professors, Dr. Boyd Rossing (SoHE Professor Emeritus) about a part-time lecturer position for which he was hiring to teach a Community Leadership course here in the School of Human Ecology – part of the initial curriculum pre-dating our current Community & Nonprofit Leadership (CNPL) major.
That marked the start of my professional love for this school and what we have the capacity to do with our students 🙂
My graduate study includes a Master of Science degree from UW-Madison in one of the earlier iterations of CNPL, “Continuing & Vocational Education” [yes, we alumi refer to ourselves as “CAVE” people!]. With a small program – much like the current academic departments within SoHE – we were able to develop strong relationships with our instructors. That was a real turning point in my formal education as I could work closely with professors who were researching, publishing and teaching in this fascinating field of study. With my colleague graduate students, we explored the problems, possibilities and potential of what makes up the ‘best practices’ in adult education.
That solid foundation contributed to my professional work in educational and nonprofit leadership. With my work as a private school administrator, I completed a professional School District Superintendent license with The University of Minnesota’s graduate program in Educational Policy & Leadership. Because I see myself as a life-long learner, I’ve continued to pursue professional development opportunities, some of which have included certifications in: Mindfulness, Diversity Dialogues Facilitation, Multicultural Awareness, and Institutional Advancement/Development for Nonprofits.
Mindfulness & “Quiet Time” With my personal and professional interests and training in mindfulness meditation, I bring an experience of “quiet time” to my on-campus instruction. For courses in which I believe there’s an appropriate fit, I invite students to engage in a brief moment of, “quiet time” during our class sessions throughout the semester. Out of respect for the many different traditions and cultures our students bring to our classroom, I am clear about making use of this brief (1-2 minutes) experience as a time for quiet – nothing more. Student’s encounters with this quiet time vary as much as their lives and personalities – some students use it to rest their bodies and minds, some students reflect or meditate, and some students simply appreciate a brief moment of quiet in their (otherwise) busy days. I’ve found this to be a wonderful resource for community-building in the classroom.