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This season, I’m thankful for teachers

In the brand spanking new Markin Family Student Recreation Center, theatre arts professor Steven Snyder was touring his kids around the gym.
Snyder stopped in his tracks on the second floor at the racquetball courts when he saw a familiar face.
That face was me, a journalism student who took one class with him almost two years ago. I stopped in mid-swing at the ball and lost the point, but it was well worth it because the professor saw me, stopped his kids from wandering away from his guiding hands, and gave an ecstatic smile with a friendly wave.
“Hey Dru, How are ya?” he said.
Like I do on any occasion, I fumbled with my words and managed a gibberish, “Hey, fine, you? How are… Good to… you? See you!”
I still have no idea if he heard me because in those racquetball courts the echoes are so loud you can barely hear yourself.
So whether you heard me or not professor Snyder, I shall repeat it – I am doing great, how are you doing, it was really good to see you and, most importantly, thanks for remembering me.
That moment this past Saturday reminded me of why I love this university. In the spirit of the upcoming Turkeyfest, I am thankful for Bradley teachers.
It is really easy for everybody to pick out the gaping holes of the university (did it myself in my last column), but a majority of the students overlook the reason most of them came here. Small class sizes create bonds with teachers and those bonds last.
Snyder isn’t the only one I still have communication with these days.
Professor Janice Frazier, a marvelous author (yep, sucking up) and fantastic English and communication teacher (more brownie points), had me for English 101. My girlfriend recommended her to me because she thought our personalities would gel perfectly.
She couldn’t have been more right. I absolutely hated English in high school and signs were pointing towards a political science teacher career for me. She guided me into the great journalism major I am now.
For the first time in Tate family history, one of us liked English class.
I’ll admit, I was sad the class was over because I spoke whenever I wanted in that class about anything and professor Frazier usually laughed. Apologies to the rest of the class, but the joke wasn’t for you, Frazier understood it and that was plenty fine for me.
With the class over, and coincidentally this was the same semester I had Snyder (I’d go back to that semester any day), I thought my communication with her was done.
Oh, how I was wrong. To this day whenever I pump out a column she e-mails me telling me her thoughts and tells me I did a good job. It’s touching. She tells me to come visit her in her office in the Global Communications Center and I always say I will.
Side quip – I apologize, professor Frazier, I saw you in your office this past week but my car died and I was in the midst of trying to borrow a car to go to work. I promise I will stop by.
The next teacher in line is the chairman of the Communication Department, Paul Gullifor. Since having the class he still says hi to me on the chance our eyes cross paths. It’s nice to know someone so high up in Bradley can still remember his students.
Even more impressive – he remembers who I am even though I fell asleep countless times in his class. Sorry about that Doc G, COM 203 is really interesting.
In my marketing class the professor, Henry Balfanz, took a trip to California last weekend to see his son for a surgery.
He told the class beforehand and let us know class would be canceled and explained why. A student in the class was from California and asked Balfanz if he would be going by her hometown. The town escapes me (it might have been Laguna Beach, but I didn’t know if that place was just made up for MTV), but when Balfanz said he would be around the area she asked if he would bring her back some sand from her beaches. She was joking of course and he laughed with her over the outlandish request.
Fast forward to this past Tuesday.
Class starts and the student isn’t on time to class. Balfanz starts the lesson and about 15 minutes in she shows up. Balfanz stopped the class.
“Hey, I have something for you,” he said.
He goes over to his bag and whips out what looks like a clear film canister of sand.
The girl was in shock. I was in shock. The whole class was in shock. What a guy.
You can’t get this in state schools. Try making a connection with a professor when they don’t even know how many people are roughly in their classes. At University of Missouri, a psychology class typically has 1,000 students. Think a professor will know a single name? I don’t think so.
Before you go complaining about how bad you did on the last test the mean old professor gave you, be thankful that they know your name and a little bit about you.
Dru Tate is a junior journalism major from Overland, Miss. He is the Scout assistant sports editor.
Direct questions, comments and other responses to dtate@bradley.edu