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What do professors do to get ready for school?

Classes at North Central start on August 30 and after summer vacation, our faculty are getting ready for that first day of school.

They might not be buying construction paper or making bulletin boards, but our faculty definitely have to-do lists to be prepared—and a few things planned to enjoy the last days, minutes, and seconds of summer. 

What are the most important things on your back-to-school to-do list? 

Amy Anderson, Ph.D., professor of New Testament and Greek, is focusing on her three most important things: “Communicating with my students so they know what to expect on the first day of class, scrambling to finish Moodle quizzes for my new prep, and praying that God guides me in being the leader my students need me to be.” 

Planning ahead for the first day of class is where Gail Weinhold, M.A., assistant professor of education, is spending her energy. “First day, first day, first day,” is what Weinhold repeats to herself, explaining, “You only get one first day of class. Research tells us how important that first impression is and it sets the tone for the semester. I put a lot of thought and effort into that first day. I can’t sleep the night before classes start and I’ve been doing this for a long time!”  

“You only get one first day of class.”

– Gail Weinhold

Beth Brown, M.S.W., assistant professor of social and behavioral sciences, and Phil Mayo, Ph.D., professor of New Testament and Greek, have the exact same list: “Syllabi. Syllabi. Syllabi.” Faculty members know the quality of what they teach and the experience for students depends upon well-made and well-communicated plans! 

The top things on the list for LaToya Burrell, J.D., associate professor of business administration, are organization of all courses, prayer for a great semester, and prayer for a new presentation. 

What do you most look forward to at the start of the school year? 

“Getting to know the most unique, interesting and gifted individuals who are in my classes,” is what Joanne Kersten, M.M., associate professor of fine arts, looks forward to. “Each person shines in their own way. I look forward to what they will comprehend, how they will collaborate and what they will create.” 

“I look forward to STUDENTS!!!! Coffee with students!” writes Nan Muhovich, Ph.D., professor of intercultural studies. Since many of her students are preparing for international work, their summers involve time overseas, so she looks forward to hearing about their summer international internships, study abroad experiences, and their fieldwork trips. 

“I look forward to STUDENTS!!!! Coffee with students!”

-Nan Muhovich

Weinhold echoes that connecting with students is her favorite part of the start. “It’s great to reunite with those you already have such meaningful relationships with and feel connected again. I love reconnecting and the excitement of a fresh start, but I also can’t wait to get past the awkward phrase of getting to know all of my new students. I pray they see Jesus and know how much I care.” 

Meeting new students and being part of new beginnings is exciting to Burrell, who says, “The freshness and excitement is contagious!” 

Being part of a faculty team making the difference in the lives of students is exciting, too, and Mayo looks forward to seeing colleagues again. 

Looking forward to gathering again for chapel with students, faculty, and staff on that first day was another theme that emerged on our faculty to-do lists. 

What activity/activities will you try to squeeze in before summer comes to an end? 

A summer break is treasured as much by teachers as by students, and faculty definitely have plans for making most of their last days before school starts. 

  • “I’m trying to finish painting part of my house and finish writing a book. Both of which will certainly NOT be done by the time we start.”  (Amy Anderson)
  • “I’m pumped to volunteer at the NCU [State Fair] booth again. I will also get in some nice long bike rides, rollerblading, and maybe some paddle boarding. You’ve got to savor these summer days and store some in your batteries for the winter!” (Gail Weinhold)
  • “Going to the State Fair and taking one more fishing trip!” (Phil Mayo)
  • “Swimming at the lake and spending time with children and grandchildren.” (Joanne Kersten)

What was the highlight of your summer? 

“What I did on my summer vacation” essays from faculty would include both adventurous and everyday fun. Here’s are some of the things from their lists: 

  • A trip to Cairo in May to learn about the Cairo Study Abroad program (Nan Muhovich) 
  • Experiencing Alaska, the grizzlies and other wildlife, and camping in the rooftop tent (Joanne Kersten) 
  • Fulfilling a 20-year dream of going to London and gaining lots of new insight for teaching British literature and history (Gail Weinhold) 
  • Vacations and spending time with family in Louisiana, Florida, and the Bahamas (LaToya Burrell) 
  • Lots of quality time with her niece and nephew (Beth Brown) 
  • An at-home summer that included daily reading of Greek and Latin in Luke and working on her book, gardening (for the record, she hates Japanese Beetles), and painting (Amy Anderson) 
  • Getting up without an alarm clock and drinking a leisurely cup of coffee—rather than a travel mug in the car (Phil Mayo) 

The most important things

As summer days subside and fall lies ahead, Kersten shares how she has learned to “seize the day,” a perspective gained through a big change between this year’s back-to-school season and last year’s. “Last year at this time, my elderly parents were requiring lots of time. I had no idea that in February 2017, they would depart—so I could no longer care for and enjoy them. Carpe diem.” 

Music instructor Carmelita Guse, articulates a truly important planning step for NCU faculty: “The most important thing to start well is to pray. I give it all to the Lord. I can’t do the job on my own! I have the training, I have the degrees, but by myself it’s not going to work—I need the Lord to do it.”