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Instructor’s passion for ECC spans decades

Karen Witt

Adjunct English Instructor Karen Witt

Adjunct English Instructor Karen Witt started at ECC in 1975. But she's still not the longest-serving college employee.

Witt, however, could possibly rack up another honor: Student enrolled at ECC the longest at 16 years.

“I lived in Elgin and after high school, began working full time and started taking a class here and there at ECC,” she said. “I eventually earned two associate degrees and a wonderful counselor told me that I needed to `move on.' He helped me realize that I could complete my education and become a teacher-a dream I never thought would be possible. I have never looked back!”

Following that advice, Witt earned a master's degree, completed post-grad work in art history, and received an ESL certification and a reading specialist license. She has been an ECC adjunct instructor for 24 years.

“I absolutely loved being in the classroom and `showing off' all I had learned, both at ECC and university, and seeing the enthusiasm in my students when they started getting really excited about art,” she said. “I still can't believe that was 24 years ago!”

We caught up to Witt to ask her some questions about herself and ECC. Here's what she said.

In your words, what do you do at ECC?

Each time I come into a classroom, I remember that I am facing students with dreams, aspirations, and hardships just like I had so many years ago. That part of life never goes away. So, what I intend to accomplish during each class session is to reach students with the curriculum and show how mastery of each lesson gets them that much closer to achieving their goals and dreams.

It might sound sappy, but there it is! Education was my way out and for many, I believe it still is.

What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?

Continuing to grow as an instructor. After starting at ECC, I've since received a master's in English, did 36 hours of post-grad work in art history, received ESL certification, and a reading specialist license. Each time I grow as a student/instructor, I believe I am helping my students grow as well.

What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?

I couldn't see myself as an administrator-I would not like to leave the classroom. So, if I were "forced" to become ECC's president for the day, I would ask if I could be a visiting instructor in various classes!

If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

Anjelah Johnson-she's way prettier and younger than I am, but she just nails personalities with everything/everyone she does. She's funny and I love her style!

What's on your “bucket list?”

I love to travel and visiting Israel has been on my bucket list for quite a few years. I want to walk some of the paths that Jesus walked and hope to do so in the future.

What's one fact we should know about you?

Honestly, I'm pretty open about who I am, what I stand for, and what I believe. I'm not sure there are any "facts" that people don't already know!

What's something about your job that others should know?

The only thing I can imagine myself doing is teaching-or gardening. There's just nothing else I would want to do!

What was your favorite class in school?

I loved anything related to English or history. My least favorite still today-anything related to math (sorry).

What was your first job out of school? 

I was a secretary and worked overtime in the parts department so I could afford to buy things for my two-room apartment!

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

It has always been home to me. It has always supported me and afforded me opportunities to grow. 

From instructors to deans, from custodians to staff members, from security to students-I have been blessed to have known so many good and dedicated people, always willing to help and always willing to do their best. Thank you! 

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Related Link: Communications & Behavioral Science Division

 
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