For the most part, professors are on your side

It isn’t very easy being a teacher in the state of Texas. It never has been. Coming from a long line of teachers in my family, I know the struggle firsthand. It’s a difficult job, an oftentimes thankless one. The wages are low and unless something dramatic changes happen in Texas this November, it doesn’t look like it’s on track to change. It isn’t right. It shouldn’t be acceptable. But it is the case.

Sometimes, we end up with terrible professors. They’ll come into class with creases in their foreheads and frowning faces. They’ll seem to work against you with strict grading, minimal teaching, and uncomfortable classroom atmospheres. They may even berate people in the class or criticize your work right to your face. They’ll sometimes pick favorites and not include you as a member of their golden circle. These teachers are out there, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve all dealt with them at one point or another, whether it was in high school, another university or right here at Texas A&M University-Commerce. It happens.

Even so, more often than not I find that here at A&M-Commerce, the bad apples are few and far between. Over the course of my time here, I’ve had professors stay late with me working on a difficult assignment, correspond with me via e-mail giving me tips about how to move forward, compliment my work and even come to class dressed as Gandalf the wizard. Some of my favorite people I’ve ever met are employed at this university including individuals like Dr. Bridges here in the journalism department, Diana Hines over in the Writing Center and her too-cool-for-school husband Noah Nelson, Drs. Montgomery and Williams in the science department, Dr. Loving over in the finance department and Dr. Thompson with Sociology.

And oh yeah, that Fred Stewart guy is alright, too. All of these professors are either really good at teaching their craft, so passionate about it that it can’t help but rub off on you, great people in general, or some combination of all of the above. They’re also all relatively well received by students across the board. Some may have more fans than others, but all of them are generally looked back on in a positive light.

But it’s not only these professors that are willing to help out. There are others who I’ve found are willing to help out as well; others that may not necessarily be looked upon in a positive light.

My Shooting and Editing class over in the PAC is not an easy fit for me. Even though absolutely every term and idea in the class is completely foreign to me, I’m forced to take the course because it’s required for Journalism majors. Seven weeks in, I don’t think I’ve ever had to work so hard in a class in my life. Not only are there the 3 hours of lectures to attend, there’s a dense textbook, weekly project shifts, difficult exams, complicated cameras and shaky tripods.

Even with all of these harsh elements, perhaps nothing about the course is as intimidating as Dr. Tony DeMars. Strict and short-spoken, it’s easy to misinterpret Dr. DeMars’ somewhat hands-off teaching style and reserved demeanor. But below the surface lies the soul of one of the most understanding men on campus.

I’m not the best photographer. I’ve never owned a camera other than the one in my iPhone. I’ve never really cared much about the craft. So I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I was handed a complicated, tape-eating HD video camera. So far, my output has been pretty dismal. My first attempt at shooting was a shaky, unfocused mess and I’ve screwed up seemingly menial tasks more times than I’d care to admit. Yet through it all, Dr. DeMars has always been on my side. He’s accepted my flaws and taught me from them, he’s been available when I need to ask him one of my many questions, and he’s chuckled at and forgiven my many gaffes. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

No professor is perfect. Some are better than others. But when it comes right down to it, most of them really are on your side.