President puts teaching shoes back on

Bradie Gray

President Linda Bennett is teaching a First Year Experience course this semester. The class met for the first time Friday morning.

President Linda Bennett is teaching a First Year Experience course this semester. The class met for the first time Friday morning.

President Linda Bennett stepped into the classroom for the first time since the fall of 2007 Friday morning.

Bennett walked into the First Year Experience Class, located in the Health Professions Center, at 9 a.m. toting lots of excitement and a fishbowl full of questions.

First Year Experience 101 is a new required course for all USI freshmen. It is an introduction to the university with a special focus on academic success, campus involvement and community engagement.

After introducing herself and the students’ advisor, Liz Webster, she had each student introduce themselves and answer the question they drew out of the fish bowl.

Only one of the students knew their professor was the president of the university before introductions began and only a few had an idea of what the class was about.

“I think it may be for getting to know the university and getting to know other people that are going into health professions,” said Rachel Goldstein, a freshman nursing major.

With each question the students answered, Bennett had a funny story or piece of advice to give the class.

“In many ways, these classes are about me learning as much as the students are learning,” Bennett said.

Bennett’s teaching background became apparent as she encouraged the class to become more aware of what is happening in the world around them.

“I have a political science background and you’ll see me kind of nudging it,” Bennett said. “They’ve got to pay attention to these other fields because it’s not just about the career they’re going into, it’s about all the things happening in our society and political world that are affecting how they can practice their profession.”

The class meets once a week for 50 minutes. Students are were put into classes with those who have similar majors.

“Even though it’s not exactly a class going toward my major, I think it’s nice to meet other people who are doing similar things as me,” Goldstein said.

Bennett ended the class by going over the syllabus and explaining the requirements, which include campus involvement, creating a four-year plan and setting longterm goals.

“It felt good to be back in the classroom,” Bennett said. “There’s something energizing about getting to know the students.”

Bennett’s class, made up of all female health professions students, took kindly to their new professor.

“I think it went really well,” Pre-Dental Hygiene Major Katlyn Moody said. “She is really nice, and I like how she uses her humor to teach.”