A richer semester ~ with Nagash Clarke~

The Faculty Professional Development Committee would like to thank Nagash Clarke for his service on this committee and wishes him well as he continues his adventures in teaching chemistry and lending a compassionate ear (or tissue) to students.

At the End of the Day

There is a young man whom I had in class four years ago. Very bright very personable, but very unfocused.  He barely made it through my class with a lot of coaching from me. He failed the next course in the sequence, and he then decided to go another career route. We talked from time to time and it was the same old story.  He couldn’t stay on track and finish a degree.  He eventually revisited my course and did very well.

However, he is currently not doing well this semester in the courses he is taking. He shared this with me, and I asked him sternly what was holding him back from doing well. He said he didn’t know amidst tears. There he was, this grown man, whimpering before me like a child. Broken.  He told me he still needed help figuring out college. Then my humanity rose up in me. After all, who am I to determine how many chances at redemption a person should receive?

As teachers we can make or break a student. One word from us can change them for the good.  So I told him to contact his teachers to see if he could pass his courses this semester. Then we started talking about next semester. Later as I reflected on our conversation I wondered if I had done the right thing. Was I enabling him? I decided that if I had a son who fell on his face many times I would want there to be someone to help him.

At the end of the day we can teach our students the ideal gas equation, or how the brain works, or even the derivative of 2x3. Those are good things, but what is better is if you were that listening ear or sounding board. What is better is if you cheer them on, or pass them the Kleenex. Those are the things students remember the most.

So the next time you feel like writing-off that disruptive kid in the back row, or the one who is habitually late, think twice. Your words, your actions towards them might be just what it takes to change their lives forever.

Nagash Clarke
Chemistry Department
Washtenaw Community College

One Response to Guest Blog

  • Kim Shepherd

    Amen! Amen!