(Christie Harper (MA, MFA) works in the Department of English, Division of Humanities and Fine Arts at LeMoyne-Owen College.)

by Christie Harper — 

My career at LeMoyne-Owen College began 15 years ago, as an adjunct English and Humanities professor. At the time, I was working in a similar role at other area colleges and universities, but LeMoyne-Owen stood out.

There is a family atmosphere and closeness with students and staff that isn’t present at many larger schools. Therefore, when I transitioned to teaching full-time a few years ago, LOC was my choice. Times like these further validate that decision.

When we left for the extended Spring Break in mid-March, we had no idea we wouldn’t be coming back this school year. We were informed a few days into the break that we’d transition to remote learning. It seemed daunting initially, but it’s taught both students and faculty the value of life-long learning, collaboration and embracing shifts in work and culture.

A few things I’ve learned so far stand out:

First, LeMoyne-Owen College has a unique advantage in that our faculty is highly diverse.

We have professors who are homegrown, but we also have some from across the country and globe. Each of us comes with various skill sets and interests, and we are all different ethnicities, cultures and ages. While many of us have already been incorporating advanced technology into our teaching and curriculum, some of us have also experienced a learning curve. Rather than creating a stall in progress, we have kept our core goals in the forefront, which are to provide our students with a quality education and peer-to-peer support.

Daily, we are talking by phone, FaceTime and email to assist one another in the work. Our department chair, Linda White, Ph.D., has been especially supportive of us, providing an additional layer of expertise and resources.

Secondly, our students are resilient.

Having myself experienced the 9/11 tragedy as a young adult and the feeling of uncertainty during that time, I am in awe of how well they are navigating this crisis. This generation is often labeled as entitled or coddled, but they’ve accepted the current reality and moved forward without complaints. They are excited and engaged in the coursework, despite the challenges and changes.

Without prompting, I receive ongoing correspondence from students requesting in depth discussions about their assigned readings. Although I miss being in the classroom with them, their independence has kept the dialogue about lessons moving without interruption, which wasn’t possible before, with only 50 minutes of instruction time.

They also miss seeing their classmates, teachers and administrators. A student recently told me, “I can’t believe I actually miss being in school.” I believe they consider us family just as much as we do them.

Lastly, we are each learning new skills from the administrators, down.

In the end, faculty members now have additional knowledge and competencies that level up our flexibility and creativity in instruction. And although students may be tech savvy with platforms that interest them socially, like Snapchat and Tik Tok, those skills can be quite different from those acquired in an educational setting. These skills they’re putting into practice now are transferable to post-graduate studies and the working world and will help ensure an easier transition following graduation.

Ultimately, we’re excited about the acceleration in remote learning and other changes to come that will positively impact the College in a big way. It’s a great feeling to be a part of an institution that wants to see everyone win.


LeMoyne-Owen College teaches, nurtures its ‘family’ during COVID-19 pandemic

LOC accelerates pace of technology transition amid pandemic