Moberly Area Community College values its faculty and regularly chooses one of them to speak to graduates at its annual commencement ceremony. This year, MACC has chosen Renee Field, Assistant Professor, Language and Literature, to give the commencement address on Thursday, May 19 at 6 p.m. in the MACC Activity Center in Moberly. Professor Field has taught at Moberly Area Community College since 2005. Whether she’s teaching Freshman Composition, Contemporary Literature, African American Literature, or any number of other courses, she has the ability to bring those courses to life and to inspire students. Her student evaluations are a testament to the fact that she is a challenging instructor—one with high expectations of her students, but one who is also able to motivate, support and encourage students to reach those high expectations.
Field was born and raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico, a city created to house the employees of the government laboratory located there. She remembers that there were no older people and no crime. Everyone was middle class and just about everyone’s parents worked at the lab. She didn’t really know the real world until she went to college at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX.
Field’s teaching style is pretty informal and her students love it that way. You’ll most likely find her sitting on her desk leading discussions rather than behind a podium giving long lectures. In fact, she sees herself as more of as a discussion leader than anything.
“There is such a wide variety of people in a community college classroom. Everyone has to feel their voice is heard and feel comfortable speaking. I never give my own opinion in the classroom so students feel it’s a fair atmosphere. I’m more of a guide. I tell them why they are learning what they are learning. ‘For example, here’s why you have to use the correct grammar. When you go into a job interview, they are going to expect it. Right or wrong, it’s how the world works. It’s my job to prepare you to be able to be competitive in the work force.’ I equip them with the skills they need, ” explained Field.
She believes that the discussions help students figure out what they believe, why they think what they think. She generally asks them why and then gives students time to reason out their answer. In this atmosphere, the students are teaching each other without even realizing it. And they love it! Her students sign up for class after class just so they can benefit from her life wisdom. They come back and visit her just to share life stories and catch up.
“One of the things I love about community college is the democracy of it. Anyone can apply and get in. It’s up to them to stay in, though. We get students that aren’t prepared to go to college. And it’s our job to help them succeed. Everyone has to take English. My job is to help them be successful,” said Field.
Field feels out each class and adapts her teaching style to each group. Most of the time her class is the very first college class the student has ever taken. She helps them figure out the world of college in the process of teaching English.
She believes that it is the unique position of the community college instructor that it is not just your job to impart your wisdom in the subject of your expertise but also to shape and help the student in the rest of life.
“I have a skill for reaching a diverse type of student, and I feel like I am actually making a difference at a community college. You know, I feel like bending over backwards for that single mom in my class, because I know she’s bending over backwards to help herself,” explained Field.
That kind of passion is paying off because not only Field’s students have recognized her value, she recently received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in Jefferson City.
MACC is proud to call Renee Field one of its own and looks forward to her message to graduates at the 2011 Commencement.
Renee Field, Assistant Professor, Language and Literature laughs with students while they discuss short stories in her literature class at the MACC-Columbia Higher Education Center.