The Wins!

Jim McAvoy
Professor, Computer Information Technology

I’m a professor in the CIT programming department at Lansing Community College. In the Fall of 2015 I had a student, Sally, in my Introduction to Programming class. Sally told me, and the class during our introduction exercise, that she was a nurse and had come back to school to get her Programmer/Analyst associates degree. She said she was really nervous because she had never programmed a computer before. I reassured her that she would be fine, and if she applied herself, she would do well.

Sally also informed me that it had been quite a while since she had gone to college, and was concerned because she felt out of place, as an adult learner. I shared with her that I, too, had been and adult when I came back to school to complete my first degree. Sally told me that this made her feel better. Throughout the semester I would receive emails and messages from her looking for directions on certain assignments. One of these occurred when she contacted me because she was having trouble installing the program we were using in class on her home computer.

As usually happens with students like Sally, half way through the semester, she was playing a leadership role in our course. She told me that it was because of my teaching style and approachability, that she had gained her self-confidence back early in the semester. Sally became her lab team leader, and spent a good deal of time in class assisting and mentoring other students.

I find in my classes that 70-80% of my students will make it through no matter what. Another 10% just don’t want to be there and most likely most likely won’t last long once the work really begins. And then there is the 10% that really want to succeed, but may have extenuating circumstances, that they feel will stand between them and a better way of life through education. If we can help these students succeed in our curriculum and get them excited about learning, those are the real wins for educators!

Each time I run into Sally, she still tells me what a positive influence I was on her and how I made her feel confident and important as a student. I have to laugh to myself, because my students always do more for me, then I could ever do for them.