More Teachable Moments (unedited)by Wabash faculty and staff
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We asked Wabash faculty and staff members to recall some memorable moments from their time here over the past 10 years.
"We suffer together, we rejoice together"
We learn together, we suffer together, we rejoice together. And Jeff surely demonstrated for us all that "Wabash Always Fights."
More moments from Professor Warner:
In orals, I usually know within several minutes if the student has a chance at distinction. If this is the case, I move away from the historical content questions and push very hard on historiography and theory, as hard as I would with a master's student. They have to earn it! I remember well the oral exam of John O'Neill. David Phillips was there as third chair, and a temporary guy in English. John was never known for short answers, but he rose to the occasion and fired back quick synopses of every historical thinker I could come up with. He was equally impressive in English, and ended up with double distinction the two majors. He went on to grad school at University of Cincinnati and I believe is trying to get into Harvard to study Celtic History.
You asked for other stories. One that I tell fairly often is about my initial job interview here. I was decked out in my black suit, a bit nervous but bemused by the people I was meeting. One student came up to me and thrust a two page paper at me that he had written. He wanted me to comment on it!
I thought, my God what do they teach their students here?
That professors are available 24/7? (Obvious answer: yes.)
Dutifully, I read the piece and gave him my frank appraisal. Now that I've been here a few years, the story is not at all surprising... unless I'm telling it to someone from another college.
"My best C&T section ever"
1. My best C & T section ever:
It was the dream C&T section. It had a superstar at the top in the brilliant but modest Nick Dawson, matched insight-for-insight by Caleb Brown. But the depth and quality of the supporting cast is what distinguishes the best C&T sections, and everyone in this section contributed. No matter how hard the material (and we did some doozies for C&T that semester, including Nietzche, Schliermacher, and Wagner in addition to classics such as Malcolm X and MLK), someone--Matt Arroyo, Erik Kroger, Ethan Kuhn, Brandon Peacock--would have an original take on the material, others would take it up, and fifty minutes always seemed too short: the discussion took off, sparkled, and let me sit back and be one of the co-learners.
In fact, the discussions that semester were so consistently good that it's hard picking out a single moment from them, and in fact the defining moment came at the end of the semester. It wasn't when my co-grader and I exchanged grades on our sections and this group was five to seven points better, across the board in both our scores, than his. I almost expected that. It was while I was grading my finals, and Joe Day called. He was wondering if any of my guys had answered a particular "paired ID", because none of his guys were doing very well with it and he was having trouble imagining what a good answer would look like. I read him one of mine (OK, I cheated, it was Nick's, but he'd taught the other guys). I hadn't even finished before Joe said, "My best student couldn't even understand that answer, never mind have written it!"
I can't claim credit: like I said, I got lucky. For the record, here's the complete honor roll. If you read this, guys, let's pick a text and have a reunion discussion, shall we?
To Matt Arroyo, Sean Baylor, Caleb Brown, Nick Dawson, Dean Fox, Erik Kroger, Ethan Kuhn, Dan Matusik, Sean McNulty, Alan Patton, Brandon Peacock, Jon Scott and Paul Stephens. Thanks.
2. Spring 2001: A Mighty Championship
But in 2001, we had a deep squad who all showed up all the time, and we pounded the students. I mean pounded. This team never trailed after any half inning the entire season, outscored the opposition by a combined 106-38, and won the only Faculty Staff IM softball championship in living memory.
My moment came at the end of the championship game. I'd organized and "managed" the team through the season, but I was a bit player on the field‚Äö?Ñ?Æas I said in the final report, "My smartest move was limiting my own playing time!" Still, the whole team presented me with a softball marked "8-0" and signed by the whole team. I damn near cried.
For the record, the Championship Day Mighty Lineup:
3. Spring 2002: Inflammatory Cartoons
As soon as I got to my car, I popped in the CD. Kendall's voice was like the voice of God, rich and deep and wise. Just right for the man Byron Trippet described as the most civilized man he ever knew.
"A little crazy"
It gets a little crazy when you have all those projects going on at once, but it's nice to see it all come to fruition-faculty happily teaching in the buildings, and the students learning there.
Four moments come to mind:
Professor Joy Castro, in Chapel, reminding our students of the rules of civility in conversation and getting a standing ovation from them.
The Delts, quietly walking to the Senior Bench one night and writing messages on it to their lost brother, Tony Lobdell '05.
The faculty-student connection
There is so much that takes place at this "small" College that it can make ones head spin. I greatly appreciated the reminder that the close and personal faculty-student relationship is at the core.
"A Signal Moment"
That was a signal moment for me in the College's ability to deal with a controversial play and indicated to me a major moment of intellectual maturity on the part of our community.
And speaking of great sports stories: The Catch [Jake Knott to Ryan Short to Kurt Casper] to win the 2001 Monon Bell Game has to be one of the best. It brought the Bell back home after a five-year vacation and really allowed the alumni to embrace Coach Chris Creighton.
Never cease learning from our students
I learned a lot about Wabash students and their work ethic during that year. I believe that good teachers never cease learning from our students, and working with that group of seniors (Class of 2004 seniors Jacob Pactor, Matt Storm, Bubba Stultz, Mike Roark, Chris Anderson, and Robbie Boles) exemplified this tenfold for me.
Presenting our work with Jacob, Matt and Bubba at a national conference was the highlight-I was completely blown away by the students' insight and their ability to discuss their learning in sophisticated ways.
Four years later, I felt great joy for Johnny Warren and Todd Bertrand-both four-year advisees of mine and members of my first freshman tutorial-as they gave the 2003 Commencement Addresses. In that tutorial group, we learned and grew together. It was a special group of students.
More from Professor McDorman
--I remember getting a sense of the history, tradition, and magnetism of Wabash at the Campaign for Leadership kickoff in September 1998--the end of my first month on campus. Of course there was the big tent, the festivities, and a moving pictorial that chronicled the people of the college, but I was most struck with the love of the college expressed by two gentlemen that I was seated with--graduates from the mid-1930s. They had more than 60 years of lived history with the college and it was clearly dear to them. One wrote to me the next week and sent me a speech that had been delivered on campus about Edmund Burke.
--As the College prepares for significant changes, I can't help but think that I was fortunate to arrive at the college at a time of great leaders and teachers. President Ford and Dean Ditzler, who arrived in my second year, have cultivated the college as well as her students and faculty. And I feel like I was fortunate to learn from the likes of Paul McKinney, Peter Frederick, David Phillips and many others about what it means to be part of the Wabash culture, what it means to be a professor here, and about the history of the place.
--In some important respects the faculty C&T trip to Mexico in January 2001 was a defining moment for me. Not only did I learn a great deal and see wonderful sites--the Cathedral, Gaude Lupe, Teotiuhican (and definitely Temple of the Sun), Temple Mayor, Chamula--but I learned so much about my colleagues as 18 of us went on the trip. Talking to Peter Frederick, walking with David Blix, learning with Brenda Bankart, it was a quite an experience and one that in some strange way made me feel like a true part of the faculty. For me, the enduring moment of the trip is the Church in Chamula that we visited. It was a day of worship and it was a scene unlike any I had ever experienced. The pine needles and leaves covering the floor, the smoke from and smell of the incense, the candles, the children, dogs, and chickens, the coca-cola and tequila concoction along with empty cola cans and tequila bottles, the chanting, the offering of gifts, and the surreal mixing of symbols that were so far from anything I had ever experienced and yet, with the Santa Clauses, lights, and Hallmark like chime playing assorted Christmas songs, there were familiar aspects too.
--The joy I felt for Johnny Warren and Todd Bertrand--both four-year advisees and members of my first freshman tutorial--as they gave the 2003 commencement addresses. That tutorial group from 1999 (class of 2003)--Johnny, Todd, Chris Miltenberger, Jake Knott, Ryan Short and so many others--it felt like we learned and grew together. It was a special group of students
--The excitement of students when I've told them that essays we co-authored were accepted for publication.
--Having great support from David Timmerman and great departmental colleagues in Jennifer Abbott and Thom Vaughn.
--Watching Jake Knott throw four first-half touchdowns to Ryan Short during the first-half of the 2002 Monon Bell game.
--"The Catch" from the 2001 Monon Bell game.
--Being greeted at the door by President Ford at the 2003 Holiday party and then being caught off guard when he congratulated me on receiving tenure. It created an instant feeling of jubilation, relief, and numbness.Assistant Professor of Rhetoric Todd McDorman
These professors were participants in the Workshop on Teaching for Pre-Tenure African American Faculty, one of the annual summer programs put on by the Wabash Center. Their ability to enjoy this traditional activity was testimony to me of the hospitable space Wabash College has become for hundreds of religion faculty since the Wabash Center was founded in 1996, and of the rejuvenating effect it has had on their careers and sense of vocation.
"Keeps me coming back"
I retired officially a few years ago, but I hate to give up all connections with students, because there is so much like this that I would miss.
Yet seeing the outpouring of love and gratitude from former students and colleagues when they retired, and hearing Bert and Peter's eloquent and moving reflections on their academic lives, helped me see what a life spent teaching at Wabash could mean.
Their passion for ideas, for art, for justice, and for people not only kept them young-even after 40 years of teaching-but made everyone around them feel vital. And while I miss their daily presence, their effect is still strongly felt.
A deeper feeling for Wabash
I cry every time I recall it.
Transformed the way we teach
Jim: Hey John, what is that over there?
John: Child, those are the Gates of Rome. It's a good thing we got you out of Pig Nipple, Indiana, as soon as we did.
Immersion learning trips have transformed the way we teach and the way our students learn in a way more powerful than any building or program I can imagine.
I learned that a student's perspective of history is based on his four years here, and I've had to remind myself of that as we've discussed other issues throughout the year.