A Project for Better Journalism chapter

College Knowledge: Teachers Share Their College Experiences


Throughout our lives, almost all students have wondered what their teacher’s lives were like and what they experienced when they were in college. While most teachers may have forgotten about their college years, four Greenway teachers who didn’t forget about college describe what their college experience was like and give advice about education at the next level.

Below is a diagram that Greenway counselor Ms. Braun created to show where Greenway teachers attended college.  This map shows that Greenway’s faculty went to colleges all over the country.

What Was Your Most Enjoyable Moment in College?

Ms. Walker: “I can’t think of any one specific moment, but my favorite memories of college in the U.S. are of pot-luck dinners with fellow students from around the world. My Colombian roommate and I would frequently host people from the U.S., India, Mexico, Austria, Germany and Greece. It was fun to listen to their perspective on college life and sample their homemade foods.

Ms. Hamby: “My most enjoyable moment in college was accomplishing my goal of finally obtaining my degree. I know it sounds cliché; however, being able to work with students in the classroom was finally going to be a possibility.”

Ms. Parrott: “Playing college volleyball was amazing and one of the best parts of college! I also met my husband in college, and we’ve been married for 19 years, so that was awesome.”

Mr. Walker: “My most enjoyable experience as a college student was my time as a collegiate athlete. As a Division I athlete, I was able to travel the country to compete and meet many of my life-long friends.”

What Was Your Most Embarrassing Moment?

Ms. Walker: “One March, while I was a graduate student at Binghamton University in New York state, my theater teacher decided to involve all of his students in a performance art style ‘happening’ to celebrate an unexpectedly heavy snowfall. That morning, we engaged the entire campus in crazy snow-centered activities: snow sculptures, snow tasting and snowball fights. My job was to fill my coat pockets with fresh snow and try to clandestinely sell it to any students or professors passing by. I made about 22 cents that morning selling snow.”

Ms. Hamby: “My most embarrassing moment? My most embarrassing moment in college was taking College Algebra with my youngest daughter. She’s a real math whiz (she’s now a high school math teacher), and I was always the last one out of class on exam day. She was always one of the first. She would sometimes say out loud during class: “Don’t worry Mom, I’ll explain it when we get home” when I would be completely puzzled on what the instructor was teaching. Clearly, math was not my ‘thing’ which demonstrates why I’m a much better English teacher than I would ever be teaching math!”

Mr. Walker: “My most embarrassing moment was during the winter time when one of my teammates dared me to walk across a frozen pond on the way to practice. I walked out three steps, only to realize the ice was too thin and I fell in. The worst part was that I had to go to practice with my shoes frozen over.”

What Were Your Grades Like?

Ms. Walker: “I always worked hard and earned very good grades.”

Ms. Hamby: “Once again, because I was a “late bloomer,” I believe I was much more focused than I might have been had I went to college earlier in life. I worked full-time while completing my degree, and on most days, I would come directly home from work and hit the books for another 4-6 hours. One semester, I completed all of my classes online and that was probably my most grueling semester. As I would sit in front of my computer for hours reading Shakespeare as well as completing the work for my other classes. It paid off, however, as I was determined to earn A’s in all of my classes, which I did.”

Ms. Parrott: “I loved my classes for learning to be a teacher. I was a very good student because I loved what I was learning.”

Mr. Walker: “I was an A student for the most part with a couple of B’s. I never missed a class.”

 How Would You Describe Your Personal Life During College?

Ms. Walker: “Since I went to college in Austria and the U.S., my personal life varied considerably in each college setting. When I attended university in Austria, I lived at home with my parents. As an exchange student in the U.S., I lived off campus in an apartment with a girl from Colombia. I have to say that I was never a social butterfly, but I always had a small group of close friends. Unlike most other students I knew, I extremely rarely went to late parties or hung out in bars. Strangely, I have always felt somewhat out of place and uncomfortable at mega parties and bars – both in Austria and the US. However, I did pull several all-nighters with fellow students studying for crucial exams or finishing term papers. I still visit with some of my friends from that time, and then we laugh about how crazy we were typing our papers in smoke-filled 24-hour cafés.”

Ms. Hamby: “During college, my life was hectic. I had to carefully plan out time to spend with my adult children and grandchildren as my classes kept me extremely busy with little time to “stop and smell the roses.”

Ms. Parrott: “I was very busy; playing a college sport takes up most of your time along with academics.”

Mr. Walker: “My life was running. College athletics is significantly harder and more time-consuming than in high school, but I loved every minute of it.”

 Do You Have Any Advice for Future College Students?

Ms. Walker: “Review notes from lectures for a few minutes every day right before you go to bed. When you are writing term papers, don’t spend too much time researching and gathering sources. Start outlining and drafting early. It is so much easier to improve on an existing text under time pressure than it is to start from scratch. If you are lucky, you will get into the ‘zone’ during the re-writing process, and great ideas will be flying into your head in an almost miraculous way.”

Ms. Hamby: “My advice to any student is this: don’t ever say “I’m not ever going to go to college.” Life goals are a continually changing thing; thus, what you see yourself doing at 18, may not be the same as you get older. Even if you don’t see yourself going to college at a university right out of high school, taking classes at a community college until you figure things out is one way to ‘keep your feet wet’ (academically speaking), and a way to help you explore areas that may be of interest, which may work into a career path for you.  Colleges offer such a wide array of areas of study, so always leave that door of opportunity open, as there is bound to be something that will spark a desire in a person to want to reach for the stars.”

Ms. Parrott: “Major in something you are going to love to learn about and do for a career. If you are an athlete and want to play a college sport, you have to work harder at your sport and academics.”

Mr. Walker: “Research the schools you are interested in attending so you can learn as much information about the school as possible. It is important to make an intelligent decision with your college choice as it will help dictate your future.”