Adjunct Instructors Bring Special Perspective to Tri-County Classroom
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/15/2008
(By Lisa Garrett)
PENDLETON ---Doris Harbin spent 33 years teaching math in Anderson School Districts Two, Four and Five, and although she retired from Pendleton High School in 2007, she didn’t retire from teaching.
She jumped right back into the workforce that fall -- this time as an adjunct (part-time) math instructor at Tri-County Technical College‘s Pendleton and Anderson campuses. “I wasn’t ready to retire from teaching. I just wanted the flexibility of teaching two or three classes per semester. It’s a whole new world and I love it,” said Harbin.
Traditionally community colleges have depended heavily on part-time professionals to deliver instruction in the areas of arts and sciences, business, health care and career programs, said Dr. Phil Buckhiester, vice president for Academic Affairs at Tri-County. The College’s record enrollment of 5,732 students this semester left department heads scurrying at the last minute to locate qualified adjunct instructors to teach the additional classroom sections generated by the enrollment growth.
“There is no way we could teach 120-plus sections of English and Speech classes with 12 full-time instructors,” said English Department Head Robin McFall. “The adjuncts we have are truly a godsend. They pick up classes and are willing to teach anywhere, anytime -- at the high schools, sunrise classes, anytime between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Without them, we would not be able to teach many of the sections we currently offer.”
Adjuncts in the Arts and Sciences Division (teaching English, math, sciences, social sciences, humanities) must possess a master’s degree and 18 hours in the field he or she is teaching.
“There are always opportunities for adjunct instructors for our credit and non-credit (continuing education) classes,” said Dr. Buckhiester.
It’s a real plus for instructors to have experience in their career fields, such as business or industry. That outside classroom experience -- being a practitioner in their specific career -- allows them to bring a special perspective to the classroom.” Dr. Buckhiester added that the allied health programs are always looking for instructors, especially in the areas of Veterinary Technology (veterinarians to teach evening classes and to assist with labs and spayings and neuterings) and Surgical Technology.
Rick Cothran, dean of the College’s Corporate and Community Education Division (formerly Continuing Education Division), says his Division is looking for instructors across the board and sees teaching part-time as a way for retirees and others to give back to the community. “Teaching as an adjunct instructor is an excellent opportunity for individuals to aid in the learning process as new developments in the marketplace emerge.”
Norman Burdette, who worked at WestPoint Stevens as an engineer and director of product development for 25 years, recently was among those adjunct instructors in the Corporate and Community Education Division who were certified to teach the new Certified Manufacturing Technician Certificate program designed to give individuals a solid skills set when entering the workplace.
Offered though the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC), “The program’s goal is to make future associates more employable,” said Burdette.
This program can help get people into manufacturing jobs by making them more employable and valuable employees. It also can help the present workforce or give industry a good pool of applicants for the hiring process. Upon completion, he or she must pass a national computerized test. Tri-County will offer the first assessment module in January.
Burdette says his experience in industry production and manufacturing will help him to relate to the students in the classes. “I can offer real-world experience because I’ve been there and I’ve done it. It’s a new adventure for me and one that I’m really looking forward to,” he said.
Many adjuncts, like Cindy Hughes, enjoy the mentoring aspect of teaching. Hughes, an adjunct for the Early Childhood Development classes at Tri-County and the Education Department at Anderson University, worked in the childcare industry for 25 years as an educator and administrator before moving to the Upstate. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Child Development from the University of Tennessee.
“The rewards of teaching at a community college are great,” she says. “I believe strongly in the importance and value of quality care for young children. The early years have an impact for lifelong success. I love being a teacher, mentor and advocate for Tri-County students. I see the domino effect as they go out and work with young children.”
She added: “I also really like and appreciate the diversity of students. Classes are filled with individuals -- some who are in the workforce and some fresh out of high school. Individuals learn from each other and approach things from different perspectives. They keep me on my toes. And they teach me from their life experiences. Many work full time, have families and handle the challenges of life, yet are committed to classes in the evening. That’s a long day and I admire them.”
Harbin agrees. “Community college students come in ready to learn and are accountable. They come prepared and are focused. Many of the students have clear-cut goals and are determined to succeed. My classes have been a mix of single moms and working adults. It’s always rewarding to see students be successful and excited to do well,” said Harbin.
Many adjunct instructors have full-time jobs like Butch Merritt, of Piedmont, who retired from Tri-County in 2007 after 30 years as a counselor and later director of career development. Just weeks after retiring, he accepted a job at the Hanna-Westside Extension campus as a career development facilitator for Anderson School District 5. Merritt also owned Butch Merritt Photography in Piedmont for 25 years before selling the business last year.
“I still love photography so I began to teach photography classes for the Radio and TV Broadcasting Department at the College’s Anderson campus,” he said. “It really works out – I’m already in Anderson at the Hanna-Westside Extension campus and I go over to the Anderson campus two nights a week. It keeps me in the mix of photography, and I can stay current. I truly love the students and I always learn from them.”
The College values adjuncts and annually recognizes an adjunct faculty member for excellence in teaching, consistently high student evaluations and who supports the philosophy and goals of the College.
Pat Seawright was the recipient of that award in 2005 after four years of teaching English for the Arts and Sciences Division. Mrs. Seawright retired from Anderson School District 5 in 2001 after 31 years of service. During her career, she was an English teacher and later served as assistant principal and principal at McDuffie High School and principal at Southwood Middle School. She holds a master's degree plus 30 hours in Educational Supervision and a B.S. in Secondary Education in English from Clemson University.
Before her retirement, she was director of community education at the District 5 office of Adult Education. She began teaching for Tri-County shortly after retiring and is in her fourth year as coordinator of the College’s Writing Center.
“I missed teaching,” said Mrs. Seawright. “I never intended to stop working when I retired. I absolutely love my Tri-County students; I also appreciate the flexibility of the job, coming in and teaching the classes and going home. I have had the opportunity to see and help many of my former middle and high school students (and their children) pursue further education.”
The adjuncts’ focus is on teaching and students. They don’t have the committee assignments and responsibilities of full-time faculty, but they do have the opportunity for involvement beyond the classroom if they voice an interest.
Mrs. Seawright has been teaching four classes a semester along with her responsibilities at the Writing Center. “I enjoy being a part of Tri-County. I love teaching, I am a supporter of the community college concept, and I have such great co-workers. I can’t ask for a more supportive atmosphere among faculty and staff. Because my hours at Tri-County are just enough, I still have time to spend with my family and to pursue my hobbies.
Those interested in applying for adjunct teaching positions for the spring semester (which begins January 12) are urged to contact the College’s Personnel Office. The College’s Corporate and Community Education Division starts classes at varying times throughout the year. Persons can see which adjunct positions are open by going to the College’s website www.tctc.edu and clicking on the Job Seekers tab and then the Job Openings tab.