I can picture her today, sitting on the long table in front of the classroom, legs swinging to and fro.  Her face lit up the room with an unusual presence, one of peace and joy.

In the Exceeding Expectations series, today's teachers in the College of Adult and Professional Studies profile instructors who indelibly influenced and impacted them.  Prof. Tammy Sorg remembers her best teacher ever:

Nancy.SaundersI liked her from the start.  Dr. Nancy Saunders was my first professor at Indiana Wesleyan University.

I had already spent 7 and a half years of my life in public college classrooms, listening to my instructors tell me about the subjects at hand, but none exhibited the joyful and caring spirit of Dr. Saunders.  She was a lady who I could tell loved Jesus, loved her students and wanted each of us to achieve what God had called us to do in life.

Connecting in the Sidelines

One thing I remember about Dr. Saunders was her remarkable way of grading papers.  She connected with the students in the sidelines of the pages.  Where you would normally only see things like, “typo, misspelled word, or incomplete sentence”, she wrote things like, “Wow that was a great introduction, I admire your way of thinking, or way to go, you nailed it”.  Her ways of grading were like nothing I had ever seen before.  While she corrected items on my paper, she also uplifted me with kind remarks.

Dr. Saunders also had a way of helping us “adult learners” to help ourselves.  While most of us already had a working background, she pulled those work experiences from us and used them in the classroom to teach us about the subject matter.  This was truly a wonderful way of teaching that would stick with the students.

A Life Application Lesson Plan

You do not learn how to do that in a book, but simply have to be alert and listen to the students closely to see where their own experiences can be applied.  Being able to open those doors of learning requires a willingness to move away from the formal lesson plan to a life application lesson plan.  Dr. Saunders was very good at doing that.

I could go on about how she was a wonderful instructor.   There was the time when I had physical health problems.  She prayed for me and treated me with love and understanding when it came to my school work.

I loved the classes at IWU so much that I began looking into teaching for the university.  Fortunately, the Lord blessed me, and I have had the privilege of teaching for IWU for more than 7 years now.  When I first started teaching, I wanted to use Dr. Saunders as my role model.  I wanted to share my love for Christ.  I wanted to help students know that they are dearly loved by the Lord.  I wanted them to know that they are cared about by the university and myself.  It is my hope that I am doing that each day that I teach.

Question: How do you demonstrate a joyful and caring spirit toward your students? Please leave a comment below.

Prof. Tammy Sorg / Adjunct Faculty, School of Educational Leadership

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