March 12, 2015 4:00PM
Phil McNew never imagined becoming a teacher. Jeff Poe spent 25 years in the business world before trading the executive office for the classroom. Phillip Harries’ father was a college professor, so he was naturally drawn to teaching.
Pittsburg State University’s 2015 Robert K. Ratzlaff Outstanding Faculty Award recipients came to teaching in different ways, but they all share a passion about teaching that has earned them the respect of their students.
The award, presented at the university’s annual Apple Day ceremonies, is based on nominations from students, which all three of this year’s recipients said, makes it very special.
“I got a little emotional when I got the email informing me that I had been nominated for the award,” said Poe, who is in his first year as executive in residence in the Kelce College of Business. “It was confirmation that I wasn’t crazy to leave my corporate life to teach.”
McNew, who is a University Professor in the Department of Engineering Technology, said he shares the award with a team of people in the department.
“It really is a team effort,” McNew. “There are people making sure the bills get paid, the phones and emails are answered and students are taken care of. I share this award with a lot of people.”
All three said they find teaching to be immensely satisfying.
“I especially like the conversation that takes place after class is over,” Poe said. “When a student comes up after class and wants to talk about something we covered or something they thought of during class, it tells me how engaged they are.”
Harries added that he gets satisfaction out of the students’ excitement for learning.
“I’m always trying to get students involved in research,” Harries said. “It’s exciting to see their excitement over research and the process of discovering new things.”
McNew said he also finds it rewarding to work with the young faculty who are entering the profession.
“As new faculty join our ranks, they bring energy, excitement and passion that I find energizes me,” McNew said.
When asked what message he hopes every student takes from his classroom, Harries struck a chord that may explain why each of the three faculty members received high marks from their students this year.
“I want the students to know the faculty are pulling for them,” Harries said. “We want them to succeed and we’re in their corner.”
Based upon their votes, it appears the students are getting the message.
VIDEO REACTION - Philip McNewhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQr2rZxRjS8VIDEO REACTION - Jeff Poe
VIDEO REACTION - Dr. Phillip Harries