Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 207- UMSL Tenure Committee

I was blessed to have a truly outstanding professor for my student teaching, Dr. Nancy Singer.  My first contact with her was in an advising appointment before my first semester at UMSL.  She was perfectly pleasant and helpful, and she really put many of my returning-to-school nerves at ease.

I was excited, then, to discover that she would lead my student teaching seminar and be a resource during my student teaching experience.  What a great resource she was!  She gave great advice, responded quickly to e-mail, created a schedule for our class that involved minimal trips to campus, and exercised great compassion and flexibility when I needed it after the passing of my grandpa.  She also forced me to complete pieces of my massive portfolio project throughout the semester by counting sets of standards as class grades.  She also read and edited all of the standards I didn't have to turn in for class, which I know was a lot of extra work for her.  I was so proud and relieved to get the portfolio done early, rather than procrastinating and staying up for 48 hours straight before it was due (my old trick).  She also brought in an expert to help us create strong teaching resumes and cover letters, helped us create case studies and reports that would serve as great artifacts for the portfolios, provided us with a social network to share ideas/thoughts/vents/successes, and gave us opportunity for reflection that would prove handy in interviews.  She made the seminar count, and I think that's all you can really ask for from a professor.

She went above and beyond this too.  When I received my job offer, I was thrilled to e-mail her with the good news.  Not only was she happy for me, she also connected me with a former student of hers that is also in the English department at my new school.  This is just one example of how Nancy shows in everything that she does that she genuinely cares for her students and likes her job.

When I found out that Nancy would be going through the tenure process at UMSL this year, I asked her if there was someone I could send a letter to on her behalf.  Unfortunately, the way the process works, this was not something I could do.  Instead, the committee in charge of tenure review randomly selects students and asks for their opinions.  I was bummed that there wasn't really much I could do beyond a simple thank you to show my appreciation.

It turns out that I'll get that chance after all.  I got an e-mail today from the tenure committee asking for my thoughts and opinions about the quality of Dr. Singer's teaching and advising.  I am honored that I get to write a letter on her behalf and to give something back.  I truly believe that good things come back to those who put good out into the world.  This means that Nancy will have a long, successful career developing future educators, and that bodes well for public education in this area.  I am happy that in my own little way I will get to be a part of it. 

Thank you, UMSL Tenure Committee, you made my day.

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