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KCC Faculty on Teaching

KCC Faculty on Teaching

Melisa Jn. Pierre

How did you get into teaching?
It was a circuitous route that began with my parents’ prayers, an unrelenting network of supportive people, and embracing both familiar and unfamiliar challenges. When a former professor asked me to consider teaching after graduation, I thought to myself, “Hmm, now which part of this conversation is really meant to keep me from dropping the class?” This exchange turned out to be a most genuine nudge into a fulfilling path. The nuggets of our dreams are spurred on with a few purposeful and kind words.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
I envisioned two career paths. The first was a counseling practice with a specialty in teenage counseling. The second was owning a family chain of restaurants and a creative arts/day center for the elderly, bringing three passions together: food, literary performance, and geriatric care.

What do you love about teaching?Unreservedly, I love that my students show up right there with me, be they few or a full class! If we’re here, the journey begins. I love stepping into the world of each classroom that slowly transforms the teacher/student dynamic into an instrument of shared integral stories and experiences over the course of the semester, without a sense of jaded optimism for the determined faces. And I love the tug and pull of collaborative knowing, which lowers the walls of apprehension for the most part.

What’s your favorite teaching experience?
I enjoy when students take an assignment beyond its original goals, committing their own ways of seeing with intuitive individuality. For example, with an assignment that was meant to focus on a community outside of Kingsborough, students turned the interviewing lens onto their peers, some of whom were single fathers. The students provided an authentic space for listening, honoring, and celebrating another person’s story, which they, in turn, presented to the class.

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
Having worked in several fields outside of education, where I continue to form connections with diverse communities on and off campus, allows me to bring multiple frames of reference to the classroom that intersect with pedagogical philosophy, application and students’ narratives.

What advice do you have for current students?
Please know when we ask, “Do you have any concerns? How are you coping?” it is not a trick question. We really want to know! The contact information and office hour for your professor are not window dressing for the syllabus. We are here to support you through the semester. Share your story, before you worry.