"DeVry comes close to what I consider the ideal form of education. This is not a lecture environment; we are hands-on, applications-oriented and technology-driven."
Where I come from
As an undergraduate, I majored in music education at a traditional four-year college. Upon graduation, I got a job as a high school band director. Later I went back for an MA in counseling and a Ph.D. in educational administration.
I always wanted to be a teacher, even as a kid. Growing up, I had two friends who would come over every week to play school down in the basement and we would take turns being teacher. We are all teachers now. I've been teaching for 31 years in all - the last three and a half years at DeVry University, where I teach introductory Psychology, Advanced Motivation and Leadership, and Society.
Teacher and counselor
Counseling and teaching have a lot in common, and I have an active counseling practice. Previously, I was Executive Director of the Indiana Children's Christian Home, a residential treatment facility for sexually abused adolescents. We had an on-grounds school as well as a counseling facility; residents were with us usually for two years. I have also had the opportunity to be the principal of an alternative school for students who had been expelled from the public school system. Seeing the changes those individuals made in their well-being and education was very important to me.
Staying current professionally
My counseling license requires me to have 100 hours of continuing education every five years to keep up with new practices in the field, such as testing procedures and counseling approaches. I publish articles and attend conferences. I don't stop learning just because I'm teaching.
If students ask why they have to take a psychology course or one related to motivation and leadership, I try to help them see that it does not matter what career you're choosing, you are going to deal with people; you need to understand how people work and specifically, you need to understand how you work. So I try to bring to the classroom ways they can better understand themselves; if they do, I believe they will better relate to and understand other people.
Some students have real difficulty with the concept. When they are pursuing education in game and simulation program, for example, they might question why they need a psychology course to become a programmer. I say, you need to understand how people interact and how they work; that tells you how to motivate them to buy and play the video game. So that's the career orientation I bring to my courses. I know nobody is here to major in psychology or counseling.
How I teach
I do a lot of different things that are not in the textbook. I give a lot of psychological assessment-type tests as part of class projects. I believe this may help people in the class come out with a better understanding of who they are. It is important to involve students in the learning process at the level of experience and not just at the intellectual level. I consider myself a facilitator, not a lecturer. My feeling is that students will get more from what they do than from what I tell them. They make a presentation in class every week.
My best teacher
My high school history teacher was the best. She was the strictest, most disciplined person but at the same time she created motivation. She had an implicit understanding of each of us. There were no numbers and no teaching to the masses. She would challenge me to achieve by saying "you can't do that." Those were just the words I needed to hear to prove her wrong. That would not have worked for everyone, but it was right for me.
The drive to succeed
So many DeVry University students work a job besides going to school. Taking on that challenge makes me confident they have the drive to succeed. The individualized instruction available here is designed to help them keep up. I usually have 10-12 students in a class, and I can afford to give them time inside and outside of class. After graduation, former students email me all the time with jokes from the internet or news of their families. We stay in touch.
DeVry University comes close to what I consider the ideal form of education. DeVry University is structured, but there's often room to tailor your plan. This is not a lecture environment; we are hands-on, applications-oriented and technology-driven. It may sound odd for a psychology teacher to praise the strong technology component, but that's the world we live in. The unspoken assumption at DeVry University is: We know everybody is working and has an outside life. We respect you as a responsible adult.