The three Pittsburg State University faculty members who received the 2011 Outstanding Faculty Award all say they were inspired by teachers in their own college careers and they're working hard to do the same for generations of new students.
Dr. Virginia Rider, a professor in the Department of Biology; Dr. Janice Jewett, an associate professor in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation; and Dr. Scott Gorman, a professor in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, received the honor at Apple Day ceremonies on March 3.
Dr. Rider's answer, when asked what inspired her to become a teacher, was quick and short.
"Love of subject," Rider said. "I love what I teach."
Rider said the person who influenced her the most during her own college career was a post-doctoral adviser.
"He did everything the way I thought it should be done," Rider said. "He was an absolute professional and he made time for everybody who ever wanted to see him. He taught me how to be independent, how to think and he really cared about me. And if he hadn't been in my life, I think I would have gone a different direction."
Rider said that gift of time is something she tries to pass along to her own students.
"If only people realized that to somebody who is coming along and has career aspirations, a little bit of your time can make a huge difference to them because most of us don't feel very adequate. Having someone you respect and admire think you're worthwhile can change your life totally," Rider said.
Jewett said her inspiration to teach didn't come until she was a graduate teaching assistant in the same department in which she now teaches.
"I hadn't necessarily thought about teaching at the college level until I was a graduate assistant," Jewett said.
When she got in front of students, however, something clicked.
"I got a good feeling (from teaching)," Jewett said, "And I got good feedback from the students."
Jewett said it was difficult to single out just one person who made a difference for her in college.
"If I was going to name one person, it would be Tom Bryant," Jewett said, "but more collectively, it was the whole department that inspired me and led me to believe I could do this."
Gorman said he grew up in a family environment that included neighborhood children and sports.
"When I went to school, I wound up playing various sports and that led to the coaching side of teaching," Gorman said. "I believe you can't be a good coach unless you can teach, so I put those two things together."
Initially, Gorman said, he expected to be a professional baseball player. That dream ended with multiple knee surgeries.
"I just kind of fell in love with the physical education discipline," Gorman said. "From the time I was a freshman, I never changed majors and never changed emphasis."
Gorman said he was fortunate to have many people who made a big difference in his college career, but he singled out two.
"When I first started, I had some coaches who influenced me," Gorman said. "One of them was Bill Miller at Elon College. He wound up being my baseball coach my senior year. Just his influence as a person as was significant."
When Gorman began his graduate studies at Western Carolina, he met another man who would have a major affect on his life.
"I wound up being around my father-in-law, Jim Hamilton," Gorman said. "He became the role model I used to get motivated to go back to college and get my doctorate."
All three of the honorees said receiving the Outstanding Faculty Award was special to them because it came from students. They said they were honored to be chosen from many deserving faculty.
"There are so many wonderful faculty members at Pittsburg State University," Jewett said. "The commitment to student success and to excellence in the various disciplines we see demonstrated every day is truly inspirational. It really is an honor to be selected for this award."