Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wrapping up another semester

This is the last week of classes at both my full-time gig and at NWACC. I taught my last stats lesson for the semester at NWACC this evening. I have been adjuncting there for about two and a half years now. There are two reasons why I do some adjuncting. One is pretty obvious. As someone who is primarily an educator, my base pay is almost never enough to cover the bills. Some sort of moonlighting was inevitable. The other is that being at NWACC is a sort of homecoming for me each time I am on campus. I am actually a community college product. I went to a different community college - Fort Steilacoom Community College (now known as Pierce College), which is where I got my start. The year I spent there was where I think I finally began to find myself. It was certainly the first place where my peers and some mentors took me seriously, gave me some space to stumble and fail as well as succeed, and in the process become the person I am today. I have often said that community colleges change lives, and typically for the better. Being able to change lives for the better, from the faculty side of the equation is very valuable to me. The university that employs me full time was once a community college. I know that some of my colleagues wish the community college mentality would finally end here. Increasingly, I am valuing the extent that we still maintain some of that spirit. There is something about working with people who may not have been taken seriously before and showing them that their ideas really do matter, that they can challenge themselves in ways they may not have thought possible, and have something to show for the effort that truly defies words. We change lives. Being part of that is something that perhaps our elected officials don't quite appreciate, but I am a true believer in what my students are getting out of the experience - if for no other reason than I have been there. I hope my night class at NWACC continues to get the enrollment needed to continue, because there is some value in what happens there that goes way beyond a paycheck, and I hope we never lose sight of what we do best at my home campus, as we really do change lives here. I've seen it. The grades will be what they are. The lessons learned go way beyond a gradebook and way beyond what can be quantified (yes, I know - blasphemy from someone who primarily teaches methodology courses).

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