SPS Faculty Highlights

By: Jenny Agnew, Ph.D.

With nearly 40 adjunct faculty members, the Core Curriculum and General Studies Program is one of the largest at SPS.  Disciplines include English, History, Theology, Philosophy, Art, Music, Theater, Biology, Anatomy, and Physiology.  We also have PST 100—“Learning Strategies, Processes, and Resources”—in the program, which is a course designed to help incoming students prepare for college.   In addition to offering a major in General Studies, the program provides the foundation of writing and critical thinking and analysis students need regardless of their majors.

Some of our faculty teach only for SPS, while several teach at other universities and share their classroom knowledge and online instruction with SPS students.  Still other faculty members hold full-time jobs outside of academia while teaching for SPS.  In sum, the faculty members in the program are like their students: busy working adults.

The busy working adult students at SPS benefit greatly from the fact that many of the faculty members in the Core Curriculum and General Studies Program practice the very subjects that they teach.   Amy Reidel, MFA, for example, one of the program’s Art instructors, is a working artist who has exhibited her work in a variety of venues.  This fall, her exhibit “Relic-Quarry” opens at St. Louis Community College’s The Meramec Contemporary Art Gallery, with an opening reception on Thursday, October 3.  Amy also worked most recently at the St. Louis Art Museum, as the Collections Database Assistant in the Registrations Department.  One way Amy’s experiences translate into her classes is through her regular field trips with students to SLAM.

Another faculty member whose life outside of the classroom informs his teaching is Joe Dreyer, JD.  An attorney by day, Joe teaches Music and Theater classes at SPS.  If that connection seems incongruous, it’s important to note that he also performs regularly around St. Louis in different music venues.  Joe is currently starring in Upstream Theater’s production of Nikolai Gogol’s Diary of a Madman as the “third wheel,” as he called it, where he joins the actors on stage as musical accompaniment.   The performance runs from October 4 through October 20, at the Kranzberg Arts Center.  Upcoming events Joe will perform in include the 25th Anniversary of the Gatesworth at One McKnight Place and The Science Center’s Annual Donor Gala.  For his Music and Theater classes, Joe requires the students to attend a live concert or performance so they can fully appreciate what they’re studying.

Becky Caron-Wood, Ph.D. not only teaches English classes but she also writes herself, illustrating to her students that one has to practice writing regularly in order to become successful at it.  In April of this year, she won third prize for poetry in the St. Louis Writers Guild Chapter Contest at the Missouri Writers Guild Conference.  She also recently received a screenwriting film credit for her short script about the life of prominent Kentucky educator Lelia Leidinger, written for the 2011 Voices of Elmwood Program sponsored by the Owensboro (Kentucky) Museum of Science and History.  The program, which brings the residents of the historic cemetery back to life through talented local actors, was filmed by Firelight Entertainment Group, and the documentary full-length feature has just been released on Blu-Ray disc.

A blog entry about the program’s faculty wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Geoff Morrison, Ph.D., who recently retired.  SPS’s first ever recipient of the Distinguished Affiliate Faculty in Residence Award, Geoff taught for 50 years, with time spent in the Mehlville and Clayton School Districts as well as the St. Louis Public School system, as both an educator and administrator.   SPS was fortunate to have Geoff spend the last 17 years of his career here.  As a mark of his generous nature, Geoff recently donated valuable teaching materials, including several DVD’s, to the program for others to use.  He also offered this sage advice for his fellow educators: “Be intellectually engaged in the academic community” and, first and foremost, “stay focused on the students.”

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