City of Residence: Bonaire
Occupation: Criminal justice department program chairman, Central Georgia Technical College
Q: As the 2015 CTCG Instructor of the Year, what do you personally believe it takes to achieve that honor?
A: You have to care about the student’s future -- have their best interest at heart. I think that’s the main thing.
Q: How does that play out day to day? What does it look like?
A: Obviously, you have to know your subject matter, but for me it means being positive, showing students the opportunities available for them in the workforce or in pursuing higher degrees. There are also things that aren’t just about education. Sometimes students ask advice about personal problems, a career change. I always try to be positive and enthusiastic. I believe that helps.
Q: What does getting the honor, and prospects for competing at region and state levels, mean to you?
A: I’ll be honest, I was surprised. I was happy and honored just to be in the company of the finalists, especially since I hold them in such high regard. To be nominated by my peers was a complete honor.
Q: How long have you taught?
A: I started in 2007 at South Georgia Technical College and came to Middle Georgia Technical College in Houston County in 2008. I’m originally from Warner Robins, a graduate of Northside (High School).
Q: What brought you into teaching?
A: I went to law school then worked for a while in Cleveland for the Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s prosecutor’s office as an investigator of serious child abuse and neglect cases. I did that in Savannah and Warner Robins, too. My wife, mother and sisters are all educators and I was drawn to it. My goal is to bring practical knowledge of how the system really works to students because I’ve been there and done that.
Q: In 2013, Middle Georgia Technical College merged with Central Georgia Technical College. How has that worked out for you?
A: It’s been excellent for me, the criminal justice program and, I think, for the community. We’re able to reach a lot more students and involve more law enforcement agencies, court systems and corrections facilities as partners. That’s been really good. We’ve also been able to expand our dual enrollment program with high schools in more counties. It stretches me in a lot more directions, but the merger has been a blessing all around.
Q: How many counties did MGTC cover, and how did the merger expand that?
A: Middle Georgia covered Houston, Peach, Dooly and Pulaski counties. Now CGTC covers those and Bibb, Crawford, Twiggs, Monroe, Jones, Baldwin and Putnam. It’s expanded our reach and added more distance video learning sites, plus opened up more partnerships for internships and future employment.
Q: What does your department train students for?
A: In our two-year program we prepare them with theory and practical skills for such roles in law enforcement, corrections and as probation officers. They can go into careers in the juvenile justice system -- things like that. We have students who go on to get bachelor degrees, and some who have gone on to law school.
Q: It seems moving into teaching has been a good fit for you.
A: I don’t have a single regret, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every day getting to work in the technical college system. I guess I could be making more money as a lawyer, but this offers something more than money. There’s nothing like having a student come back all smiles talking about the job they got and how being in school here made a difference -- how they’re using the things we taught them every day. Nothing like it.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at email@example.com.