This post was composed by Bobby Wade, instructor in the Advanced Manufacturing Academy. The original document was written as a reflection of the Fall 2013 section of the History of the Community College.
I was asked by my sister-in-law a couple of years ago what I would like to leave as a legacy. My response at the time seemed a little dorky or mushy, but now I’m not so sure that it was. I have long wanted to leave a mark, truly make a difference. Finally, seeking out, interviewing, being offered, and accepting a full-time faculty position at Kirkwood Community College may just give me that opportunity. My response to the question that she asked was “I want to do something that will make a difference to mankind, something that will leave a lasting mark that will determine the outcome of someone, anyone, maybe more than one, maybe hundreds, thousands.” I have come to the conclusion that my accepting this position may be the answer to how I may accomplish just that. I have been teaching as an adjunct for just barely four or five semesters over about four years, and I have never really thought about the possibility if what the outcome may be or what effect it may have on the students that I have had the privilege to teach. I do consider it a privilege, like driving or voting. Let’s face it; not everyone can or is willing to do it. I am not even sure that I am very good at teaching yet. That is why I will continue to give my very best to my students, and continue to hone my skills as a teacher as well as a learner. I must keep up on technology both in and out of the classroom, the more I know about my discipline the more I can convey to my students.
Over the first full-time semester that I have taught I have been amazed by the younger students who continually exhibit true excitement about what they are learning. Granted, some students’ attention are easily directed someplace else in the classroom or lab, but I pay pretty close attention to them and try to reign them back to the task at hand. I will be the first to admit that I have learned as much from them as they have from me. They are truly unique in very subtle ways. Without sounding too freaky, I love my students and have, over the short semester, created a relationship of learning and teaching between all of us. I have the unique opportunity of teaching both traditional and non-traditional students as well as concurrent enrollment students (from the high school academy). The differences between each student are not really that much. The end result is the same–they all expect to get what they are paying for. And that is a quality education that will help them get to where they want to be. If you look at it from my perspective, that is what I am doing here–providing a service that I hope I am qualified for. I feel like I am. I also hope, over time, that I will become even more qualified to continue to teach and learn more and more so I can teach more to my students. I am truly inspired by the students when they show interest and are inquisitive. They are willing to try new and risky things in the labs. (Nothing that will get them hurt!) I encourage them to be innovative and to try things in a different way to discover if a new process can be created. You never know where or what things from young minds might lead to.
I recall when I was in the Air Force as a new recruit, right out of basic training. I had a unit commander who was a colonel and had a very thick German accent. He told me one time and I will never forget it, ”No one has the market cornered on good ideas”. I like to let my students know that I feel the same way, explore the possibilities and try new things true failure is not to try at all.
So, to put it bluntly, over this first semester as a full-time instructor, my students have excited and INSPIRED me to continue teaching and to grow with them. I hope they will all go on to be very successful. The more success they have the more successful I will be.
About Bobby Wade
Bob comes to Kirkwood Community College from Schneider Electric where he worked in the Prototype-Development Lab as Computer Numeric Control programmer, designer and Prototype Machinist. He has been teaching at Kirkwood as an adjunct instructor for four years and has just started his second semester as full-time faculty. Bob is the lead Instructor for the Advanced Manufacturing Program and teaches classes on the main campus at Jones Hall as well as at the New County Linn Regional Center located in Hiawatha.