Back in the Classroom

I feel very fortunate to have seen the NWTC landscape from multiple perspectives. I truly wish all NWTC students and employees were able to have the opportunity I’ve had to see the world of post-secondary education from every angle.
In the last 4 years, I've been able to move from faculty to leadership/administration and recently back to the classroom as a faculty member (and I've even been able to sit in on NWTC classes as a student!).  These differing perspectives have given me a tremendous appreciation for the quality of people we have in every corner of this institution as well as a realization- we all work really hard!  It can be easy to think “those faculty have it great; they probably don’t work at all in the summer,” or “what do they even DO in that office?”  But having lived both worlds, and having been buried by both the overflowing email inbox of an Associate Dean and the mountain of grading of an instructor reminds me that we are all earning our keep, so to speak.
The single most rewarding professional experience of my career so far has been the opportunity to work on the administrative side to start the Laboratory Science Technology program as Associate Dean in General Studies- justifying requests for budget, working with local industry and university to get buy-in, designing curriculum- and then meeting and even having the privilege of teaching our first cohort of LST students.  It was downright emotional at program orientation to meet real students with real dreams and backstories, and reflect back on our journey. The students we were imagining when we crafted a program out of thin air were really here, really excited, really motivated… and really cool!
Part of my administrative duties included the opportunity to work on some large-scale efforts to build on our student success agenda through Dream, the Title III: Strengthening Institutions grant, and our culture of evidence work.  I tried to “think like a teacher” as I worked on teams that were creating or revising instructor professional development experiences like Data & Evidence Analysis, Living and Teaching Inclusively, and On Course.  I am now engaged in those very same professional development experiences as a learner, and find myself trying to “think like an administrator” about how these trainings can improve the college as a whole as well as my students’ learning.  I hope I never forget the perspective of our leaders, the pressures they face, and the tough decisions that they have to make daily, even in those situations that make me say “hmmm, that’s not what I would have done.”
The most important realization I’ve made in the last four years is that my heart always will be in the classroom.  Nothing can replace for me the high I get from seeing a student have a “light bulb moment” or score well on a difficult exam after struggling and working through some barriers.  The place for me is where the learning is happening each day, but I will never lose sight of the fact that beyond the walls of the classrooms and labs of NWTC are an army of committed leaders and passionate staff that are allowing me to do what I love!
Matthew Petersen - Manager, Student Retention

About the Expert

Matthew Petersen - Manager, Student Retention