The Alumni Association is honoring 26 NC State professors with the 2014 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Kimberly Bush, a teaching assistant professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. Bush is one of eight professors being recognized with Outstanding Teaching Awards.
What prompted you to become a professor? When I first graduated The Ohio State University, I immediately went on to obtain a master’s degree and I also served as an assistant field hockey coach at a Division I school. From there, I went into coaching at the college level. In some of my initial coaching jobs, I had the opportunity to teach at the college level in addition to my role as a coach. I immediately fell in love with teaching college students. I enjoyed seeing athletes off the field and in the classroom, and enjoyed meeting the general student population. I was also able to use many concepts from coaching in the classroom (motivating others, teaching individuals how to set and achieve goals, etc.). I loved coaching, but did not see myself on the fields for the remainder of my career. Thus, I made a conscious decision to obtain a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. so that I could teach at the college level as a full time career. My teaching knowledge has always influenced my coaching and my coaching has always influenced my teaching.
What are the keys to being a successful professor? For me, a key in being a successful educator is taking the time to get to know my students. This can be challenging with large class sizes, but I have found the more I know about my students as individuals the more I can meet their individual needs and motivate them. My teaching is largely influenced by the notion of an ethic of care (Bell Hooks). An ethic of care is developed from experiences and involves an individual’s feeling of connectedness with others as well as a desire to nurture others. I believe my ethic of care and the responsibility I feel toward others connects me to students and motivates my teaching. The objective of my classroom teaching is to instill in students an ability to think and act critically. I do this through formal lectures with open discussions, partner discussions, discussion boards, peer-to-peer teaching, guest lecturers, field trips, and hands on learning experiences. I put students first and foremost. I do this through understanding and valuing them as whole people, taking into consideration all aspects of their lives to help them succeed in meeting academic and future employer expectations.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? I gain satisfaction in several ways. First, seeing my students deeply and passionately discuss a topic in class is satisfying. This is not always easy to accomplish, but when it happens, it’s a fantastic feeling! Also, I am a strong believer in the obligation a land grant institution has to its community. I directly engage students with external partners, and have designed programs that have my students working with community partners. It is extremely rewarding to see my students in the field working hand in hand with the community to accomplish a larger goal. For example, I (along with a community partner) have designed a program, College Bound, which is a collaboration with NC State, three other universities, and a local low income elementary school. I have traditionally brought 200 PRTM volunteers to College Bound for the purpose of inspiring elementary students to think about college, while simultaneously providing an opportunity for NC State students to engage with a low-income, high minority population. Watching elementary students learn from college students, and then having discussion in our class at NCSU about what our college students gained from the experience and how they can apply this to their future is very satisfying. Finally, following my students as they graduate and enter their profession is rewarding and motivating. I enjoy keeping in touch with my students, following their successes, assisting them through challenges, and learning from them, as they can inform my teaching and help me grow as a professional.