Explicating Educators

Bret Belden

The New Hampshire staff mourns the loss of Principal Lecturer in Music Arlene Kies, who passed away from cancer at age 63 on Feb. 11.

Kies was highly regarded by her students, and colleagues admired both her teaching and musical abilities—not to mention who she was as a person. Our thoughts are with her loved ones. Cancer is an extremely unfortunate reality that has affected far too many lives on our staff, the UNH campus and around the world.

Bearing that in mind, our staff encourages students on campus not to take instructors, especially the ones who have influenced, encouraged and enabled us to be the best we can be, for granted.

College is often as stressful as it is fun. Sadly, many students spend roughly four years of their lives working towards a degree without ever connecting to a lecturer or professor. Those students who have had such a connection with an educator understand what we mean.

UNH feels like a much larger campus than it really is. The student-to-faculty ratio is only 19:1. As students, that’s something we really should take advantage of.

Typically, educators enter academia because they are not only extremely talented, but also passionate about their respective fields. Moreover, a connection with a professor at a university like ours can pay off for students looking to enter the workforce or continue study in a particular field.

We all know lecturers and professors went to college—and many graduate school—and it’s reasonable to assume they excelled to some degree. Additionally, many educators also have real-world experience. In other words, they’re able to apply theories studies in textbooks to everyday scenarios. But the networking opportunities professors can provide are often overlooked.

For example, Professor X at UNH studied something somewhere. She had peers that went on to hold positions in their respective fields of study. It’s also likely Professor X worked in a given field before moving to academia. When the former peers of our educator in question, that probably now hold hiring positions, reach out to Professor X and ask her if they have any competent and soon-to-be-graduating students, it’s more probable than not that she will recommend the student she knows both inside and out of the classroom. A student might be capable in accounting, but would he or she be a good fit at Professor X’s former roommate-turned upper-level corporate manager’s firm? Perhaps, though she would have a much better idea after meeting with the student several times outside of the classroom during her office hours.

The point is, educators do more than teach. They share experiences, talk about mistakes and the really good ones not only see the greatness we have within, but show us how to unleash it.

As a student, it’s easy to forget that educators are people, too. They have mothers and fathers, and some are mothers and fathers. They probably failed a test or two somewhere along the road. And, if they were lucky, they had an educator help guide them along their way.

The old adage that “those who cannot do, teach” is rubbish. While none are perfect, many are influential and even hold the key to that elusive “job” so many of us are after post-graduation.

Take the time to get to know your educators, we promise it will be worth it.