Adjunct Digital Technologies Instructor Mary Peterhans, an Elgin Community College veteran of 35 years, knows what it takes to be successful at ECC: Put students first.
“Teaching is neither a 9-to-5 job nor a nine-month job,” she said. “It is a 24/7 job if you want to be effective. If I am not teaching or grading, I am preparing for a new class or updating my skills.” Those skill upgrades include fully embracing the role of technology in office administration, while also adapting to the college’s changing physical and organizational landscape.
Her philosophy on teaching is one indication of the passion that ultimately led her to receive the 2017 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) award and the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award sponsored by The League for Innovation in the Community College.
We caught up with Peterhans to learn more about her life and her work at ECC. Here is what she had to say.
In your words, what do you do at ECC?
I am an adjunct instructor in the Digital Technologies Department that arose through combining classes in computer information science (CIS) and office administration technology (OAT).
What is your greatest accomplishment since you’ve been here?
I love seeing my students find successful jobs. Several of my former students are currently employed by ECC, and it excites me to see them move up in their careers to different positions at the college.
What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?
Change cannot be made in a day. I think I would visit classes and appreciate the great, talented and caring faculty that we have at ECC.
If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?
Judy Dench, because people say we look alike.
What’s on your “bucket list?”
I would love to drive across southern Canada and down the whole west coast to San Diego.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love to do things with our dog, Bentley, in addition to taking him on his daily walks. He has gone to sheep herding class, agility class and tricks class. However, he is not very good at any of this because we didn’t continue with lessons! I also like to read and work in the yard. My husband and I love to take road trips.
Where was the best place you’ve traveled to? Or, where would you like to visit?
I love being anywhere near the ocean.
What’s one fact we should know about you?
I enjoy learning new technology. (Editor’s note: Peterhans is working in the right department, wouldn’t you say?)
What was your favorite class in school?
In college, my favorite class was astronomy. I loved it so much, because the teacher radiated her love of the subject. I have often wondered if I exhibit that love of my subject to any of my students.
What was your first job out of school?
After graduating from college, I taught in high school for several years while working on my master’s degree.
What quote best describes your philosophy?
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” — Unknown
Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because…”
…of the wonderful people I work with, both faculty and students.