They came to teaching on different paths, but the Pittsburg State University faculty members who received the 2012 Outstanding Faculty Award share something in common. They all say they are inspired by their students as much as the students say their teachers inspire them.
Dr. Craig Fuchs, director of the Honors College and a member of the faculty in the Department of Music; Dr. Paul McCallum, a professor in the Department of English; and Dr. Grant Moss, an assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures; received the Outstanding Faculty Award at Apple Day ceremonies on March 1.
For Fuchs, the path to teaching was almost ordained.
“I grew up in a family of teachers,” Fuchs said. “My father and mother were both public school teachers. It was just the way we were. We grew up in a school system.”
Fuchs said it was natural that not only he, but both his older brother and sister chose careers in education.
McCallum said his family life also informed his decision to teach.
“I come from a family of great readers,” McCallum said. “I’ve always loved to read and I’ve always wanted to impart my love of books to other people, (particularly) young people.”
Moss didn’t make the decision to teach until he went abroad.
“When I was about 19, I headed off to Spain. I was there about two years,” Moss said. “After I spent time there, I decided I really wanted to help students learn about other cultures.”
Fuchs said that although he has been teaching for more than 25 years, each year is different and students keep him energized and excited about teaching.
“I feed off of the students’ energy,” Fuchs said. “They continue to be 18-21-year-olds, even though I’m getting older.”
McCallum, who has also taught for more than 20 years, said he learns from his students when they look at familiar literature with a fresh eye.
“Students have a way of taking me to a place that I hadn’t expected,” McCallum said. “It is fun to go into a classroom with a set of notions about what you want to impart and then the students come back at you and say, ‘Oh no, I read it this way, not that way.’ It really brings life into old favorites.”
Moss said his most enjoyable moments in teaching are the “ding” moments when “the light goes on -- not only for my students, but also for me. There are times when I’m teaching when someone will say, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about this?’ No, I haven’t thought about it that way. It’s a really amazing thing for me to experience!”
All three agreed that what made the Outstanding Faculty Award special was the fact that it originated with students.
“It says a lot about my students and how they care about me,” Moss said. “I’m glad they see how I care about them.”