Educators Share Inspiration: Why We Teach

Teaching is, without a doubt, one of the most rewarding professions. Teachers impart knowledge and provide counsel and support to students while inspiring enthusiasm for learning and careers. Whether it's a love of teaching, a passion for a particular field of study or a calling to give back, the reasons MATC faculty members teach are as varied as the subject matters they cover.

Sharing Trade Knowledge: Mary Rooney, Machine Tool Instructor

mary-rooney.pngWhat do you enjoy most about teaching at MATC?

“I love when the students come in and they’re really green but by the end of the program, they’re talking the lingo and learning how to read our instruments, how to read the prints. It’s gratifying to watch that progression and see their confidence grow, knowing they can walk away with a very valid skill.”

What do you love about teaching?

“It’s a great honor and a great opportunity to be able to give back by sharing my knowledge and keeping the trades going. Not only do I feel like I’m helping the students, but they’re helping me. As an instructor, you meet such a variety of students; it really opens you up to interact with different people you might not see in your everyday life.”

What are your goals as an educator?

“I tell my students an MATC education is like the base of a tree. They’re getting that base through their education but there’s so much opportunity to grow. It’s not just being a machinist and making parts; it’s not just being a tool and die maker or a CNC programmer. There are so many branches like inspection, quality and sales. If you get the base, there are a lot of opportunities in manufacturing beyond standing behind a machine.”

Igniting a Passion for the Craft: Darin Dubinsky, Photography Department Chair

darin-dubinsky.pngAs an alumnus of MATC’s photography program, Darin Dubinsky admits he’s a little biased when he calls it one of the best associate degree photography programs in the Midwest. Dubinsky points to the high caliber photographers the program produces as proof that he’s not exaggerating. Alumni have gone on to attain high-profile, sought-after jobs with hundreds — sometimes even thousands — of applicants, including positions at creative agencies, popular magazines and even a coveted position with the National Park Service.

“That’s the sign of the quality of the program and the quality of the education that we instill in our students,” said Dubinsky.

“That is the culmination of our entire photography program. Our instructors work together to keep delivering quality instruction.”

Dubinsky’s passion for photography spills over into the classroom. He is eager for students to derive the same joy he does looking through the lens of a camera.

“I think it’s that passion that fuels the fire within the students. Seeing that fire within them grow and watching them take that passion and move it forward; it’s what’s going to push them,” he said. “I think that’s what’s important about teaching as a whole; getting the students excited. I really enjoy working with the students and seeing that fire that’s within me resonate and reflect through their eyes.”

Mentoring and Relationship Building: Chris Terry, Electricity Program Instructional Chair

Chris Terry:

chris-terry.png“I was teaching a blueprint reading class and I remember one student saying that when he first saw a blueprint it was like looking at something in Japanese. When I was correcting those finals, I had to take a moment because the same student did so well.

“At the end of the semester, we pass out evaluation forms. Even though responses are anonymous, sometimes some of the stuff students say blows you away. You can get really good compliments. You can get a lot of feedback. “I’m still in contact with a lot of students. I get calls on Father’s
Day. That kind of gets my bottom lip quivering. I think that applies to tradespeople in general — we are very hands-on as far as mentoring. That’s kind of built into our DNA and so once we connect with somebody, we’re totally involved and engaged with them.

“A student I haven’t seen in three years will text me a picture of something at work, or they’ll be excited about something they learned in class that they got to use on the job. “One student was working down in Racine two years after I taught him and he told me about a code exception that saved a gas station so much money when they had to run a fiber optic cable out to a sign. It’s stuff like that. We hear from students a lot. When they finally catch on with an employer or sponsor, they’ll send a long email thanking us for everything we did to help them. We get a lot of feedback so we know we’re making a difference.”

Instilling Compassion and Confidence: Tonia Morley, Dental Hygiene Department Chair

tonia-morley.pngWhat do you love about teaching?

“I love to see those ‘aha’ moments on students’ faces when they finally get what you’re trying to explain. Our program is so close-knit — it’s a rewarding experience to meet the students on day one and then watch them graduate, knowing how far they’ve come in just two years.”

What makes teaching at MATC different?

“We have such a diverse group of students compared to some of the other dental hygiene programs throughout the state. We always want as much diversity as we can get. And since dental hygiene is very much a female-oriented profession, it’s really exciting to work with men and see them grow within the profession.”

What do you hope your students have gained by the end of a semester?

“I want our students to gain compassion for their patients and I want them to gain confidence in themselves. That’s another thing that we often see when students first come to the program — they’re very timid initially but by the time they’ve finished the coursework, they’re very confident. In order to be a good hygienist you have to have confidence in yourself and in your work.”

talaya-scott.pngPromoting Financial Literacy: Talaya Scott, Accounting Instructor

A relative newcomer to the accounting and finance faculty, Talaya Scott is keen on sharing her real-world experience as an accountant, author, speaker and entrepreneur with her students.

As the owner of FIIT Perspective, a financial literacy education company that promotes financial freedom through education, becoming a full-time accounting instructor at MATC seemed only fitting for Scott.

Her diverse financial career includes serving in the U.S. Air Force for eight years in military finance and working for Ernst & Young LLP, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms. But it was Scott’s own journey to financial independence that ultimately led her to teaching. A single mother of three from Milwaukee, she recalls growing up with limited exposure to financial literacy.

“I joined the MATC faculty because I’m deeply passionate about financial literacy education,” Scott said. “Teaching provides a kind of satisfaction. I wake up each day and have an opportunity to inspire people. It’s rewarding to be able to help people learn and gain financial independence.”

Diversifying the Field: Heidi Katte, Health Promotion Department Chair

Heidi Katte:

heidi-katte.png“The wonderful thing about nutrition is that we get to share all of the traditions and cultures around food. It’s a welcoming way to learn, and it’s important for all of us in nutrition to appreciate and understand each person’s differences.

“In my opinion, one of the big reasons students choose MATC is because they’re trying to make better lives for themselves. I hope to challenge my students to see that they’re able to strive for that life and achieve it, whatever their goals are. It’s my goal to help my students be the best version of themselves.

“As a teacher, I want to foster diversity in the field; we need differences; we need people of all abilities and backgrounds.

“When students tell me they applied the knowledge or experiences I shared with them when they go out into the professional world, that’s good stuff. It’s exciting to hear that.”

Inspiring Confidence: Keshena Armon, Music Occupations and Audio Production Programs Educational Assistant, Music Instructor

keshena-armon.pngHow did you get into teaching?

“My parents were pastors so I saw them teaching all of the time and being active in the community. I saw what an impact good teachers have on students by being involved in church and attending school in Wauwatosa and Glendale. Teaching is a great opportunity to connect with other people and find out what’s going on outside of my bubble and hopefully give substantial and valuable information to help my students learn.”

What is different about teaching at MATC?

“I taught privately for over 20 years and most of my work was with one student at a time. Teaching at MATC is so different because I am working with groups of students who come from a bunch of different backgrounds. No one has the same story and it’s really interesting to interact with everyone. By building relationships, we are essentially teaching each other.”

What are your goals as an educator?

“Our audio production students have to take electives, usually voice lab or piano lab, and most come in with no prior singing experience. I like seeing students go from not wanting to be there to looking forward to coming to class because of what they learn about themselves, what they’re capable of and how the course material will help them in their careers. “I want my students to actually feel like they’re learning something. If I’m not inspiring or motivating them, what’s the point? As an educator, I want to create a positive learning environment and impart knowledge that will give students the edge and the confidence to succeed.”

....we are very hands-on as far as mentoring. That's kind of built into our DNA and so once we connect with somebody, we're totally involved and engaged with them.

Chris Terry Electricity Program Instructional Chair
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