Today marked my final class for the semester at Manhattanville College.
I am an adjunct journalism professor, which means I make $2,300 to teach a 2 1/2-hour weekly class on how to report and write. I also advise the Touchstone, Manhattanville’s twice-monthly student newspaper, for free.
Really, for love.
That’s what it is, too. Love. Genuine love. I love journalism and love teaching journalism. I love telling stories about my career. I love reading the work of students at the beginning of the term, then seeing their completed, improved work at the end. I love helping students piece together a newspaper, even if it means staying up into the wee hours of Friday morning, eating cold pizza in a smelly closet/room.
In short, I love sharing the love.
I also love the relationships. When I started teaching last year, I wondered whether the experience would make me feel younger (hanging with people half my age) or older (hanging with people half my age). The answer: Neither. The dialogue rarely has anything to do with age. Maybe my musical tastes don’t line up with 2012 students; maybe they’ve never heard of Hall or Oates (dammit). But, well, who cares? It’s not about that.
Today, as the last class wrapped, I found myself genuinely saddened. I have five departing seniors, all of whom mean something to me; all of whom I want to succeed. I’ve never taken teaching as merely me offering information. It’s about establishing relationships, and helping people along; and supplying the tools needed to excel.
Sometimes I’m good, sometimes I suck.
But I always try.
PS: This was quite the babble. Apologies. The photo above was taken last week on Buckout Road in Harrison, N.Y. We took a class trip. One of my students, Jonelle Jentilucci, decided to write her final paper on the alleged ghosts who haunt the area. I gave her a 10 on the difficulty scale, because she was genuinely terrified (to my great delight). As I write this, her paper sits to my right. It’s wonderful. Lede: “Harrison, N.Y. is a small, peaceful town on the outskirts of Manhattan. It’s filled with hidden mansions in the hilltops and Fortune 500 companies at eye level. Like all beautiful towns, there is a story to be told of who was there first. Somewhere between the scenic mansions and the cookie-cutter town lies a long and winding road called Buckout.”