Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Steve Hansen: What makes a teacher outstanding?

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 12:00 am

My favorite was Will Kollock. He was an assistant professor and director of journalism at University of the Pacific. I took a poetry class from him during the late 1960s.

Most guys at age 20-plus are not into poetry. But I had an English minor and was required to take an elective like this. I braced for the worst, but surprisingly got the best.

What made the Stanford graduate professor different from most of his Pacific colleagues was his age. Only a few years my senior, he was “hip” to what was happening with our generation. The anti-war movement was strong among college kids. Breaking away from established cultural traditions was also in vogue.

However, Kollock was not a hardcore activist. Actually, he was just the opposite. The professor was not out to “brainwash” students with lockstep thinking on various issues but rather provide a variety of material from a wide spectrum of views — ranging from traditional poets to modern writers. The latter included Richard Brautigan, Rod McKuen and even Bob Dylan.

Kollock, a poet himself, has published numerous works over the last several years. Back then, he would read some of his poems to the class and ask for opinions. This gave us some competitive confidence. We thought, “If a professor could publish and be open enough to listen to student comments about his creations, then maybe he would be accepting of our amateurish attempts.”

I recall the paradox of his poems. What the professor thought was one of his best, we gave a “so-so” rating. What he considered one of his worst, we loved. It was called “The $5.49,” named after a lounge chair in his backyard. There was just something simplistic, inviting and very creative about the piece that he did not see.

Another quality of outstanding teachers is their highly developed sense of creativity and ability to bring it out in students. Professor Kollock was one of these rare individuals. By the end of the semester, most of my classmates, if not all, felt they had some degree of competence in the subject. It was not only understanding poetry but having the ability to write it as well.

My first column was encouraged by the same Phi Beta Kappa professor. Despite objections from the student editor, Kollock got me a regular spot in the Pacific student newspaper. I’ll admit that the editor may have had a point, as my writing lacked substance and style. But then, we all needed to start somewhere.

Kollock took his pupils beyond the classroom walls. I remember his Friday night “get-togethers” at his McKenzie Street home for a select group of students and professionals. Here, a variety of people with different backgrounds assembled, making conversations interesting and informative.

His wife, Zola Shaulis, was a world-renowned concert pianist. The living room in their small two bedroom home was filled with a large Steinway grand. It was always a joy to hear her play.

But life is full of irony, and the Will Kollock story is no exception. The popular professor was not granted tenure.

So, the professor and his wife sold their belongings and moved to Spain. At that time, Shaulis toured Europe and delighted audiences with talent that, for the most part, went unnoticed in Stockton. Upon their return to the states, Kollock took a job as associate professor and chair of communications at Ramapo College — a school ranked as one of the best in the Northeast by the Princeton Review. At this institution, he earned the Florence Thomases Outstanding Teaching Award.

Today, he lives with his wife on the Florida coast. Kollock continues his creative spirit through writing and painting.

The day when my favorite teacher and friend lost his job, due to reputed institutional goals, was a dark one. But on the other hand, I have no doubt that for years it was a wonderful blessing for many promising students at a respected New Jersey public liberal arts college.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 18 hours ago by Kevin Paglia.

article: Lodi water supply to be cut as East Bay…

As dry as this year has been I am amazed at how many homes I drive by still watering their lawn for very long times. One house in my neigh…

More...

Posted Yesterday by Andrew Liebich.

article: Letter: Pastor Frank Nolton forgets abo…

Mr. Barrow said, "I thought you weren't caught up in the left right paradigm." My response was, "I'm not but you would rath…

More...

Posted Yesterday by Joe Baxter.

article: Letter: Pastor Frank Nolton forgets abo…

So, now there is a "double standard", one for public figures and one for the average citizen? More liberal hogwash.

More...

Posted Yesterday by nth degree wise.

article: Letter: Pastor Frank Nolton forgets abo…

Oh Joe you're such a kidder. Someone might easily conclude you were mean spirited by your comment.

More...

Posted Yesterday by Charles Nelson.

article: Letter: A grandson’s birthday wishes fo…

Happy birthday Don. Jeff, your grandfather is an amazing human being, and an exemplary member of our community. What a blessing it is for a…

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 187

Loading…

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists