A Time to Cast Away

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say a time to be cast away.

Fifteen years ago I started teaching for what was then a small private university, transitioning from the simple world of teaching engineers how to use CAD and well on their way to becoming a real college.  For four years I watched this process up close as a faculty member, hired to teach a variety of different courses given the radical mix of 1)the schools accreditation (national, which is more lenient than regional); 2) my undergraduate degree in liberal arts; and 3) my professional certifications and accomplishments.

It was a wild ride, developing courses as well as teaching established ones.  Crafting syllabi and assembling textbooks and other resources.  A partial listing of the various courses I taught over the course of a dozen years would include: SQL Database Administration, Microsoft Server 2000, Network Administration, PC Hardware, Network Security, The Vietnam War Era, Shakespeare, Science Fiction Literature, Freshman Composition 1 & 2, Intro to Philosophy, Ethics & Technology, Critical Thinking, World Religions, The Crusades.  There are undoubtedly others that have been forgotten over time.

Over the course of a dozen years the school evolved considerably, attaining regional certification which severely limited the courses I could teach for them with my M.Div degree. In 2004 I switched from full-time, on-site and online faculty to exclusively online faculty, teaching both traditional 15-week courses as well as accelerated 5-week courses.  They’ve built dormitories and grown into an amazing place.  But in 2013 they quit scheduling me for courses.  I knew that day would come eventually.  I honestly expected it to come about eight years earlier.  I never dreamed that I would be able to support my family teaching full-time online during my Seminary years.  It wasn’t easy, but what a huge blessing it was financially.

I love teaching.  But I knew it couldn’t last.  I had offers from that school as well as sort of an offer from a much larger university to be a faculty mentor, helping to push for faculty development and heading up ‘teaching the teachers’ programs.  But I knew that this wasn’t the right path for me and so I declined them.  I knew that while I enjoyed teaching and achieved success at it, there was something else still waiting to be done.  Today I tried logging in to my old university e-mail to clean it out, as I do every few months, and to see if perhaps there might be a request to teach a course this summer or fall.  But instead, my login no longer works.  The ties have finally been severed.

I’ve hoped for the last three years that they might one day call me up and ask me to teach again, even as I knew that likelihood was small.  It wasn’t because I wasn’t well-liked by students and other faculty.  But many of those faculty and managers I started work with 15 years ago have long ago moved on to other institutions or retired.  Several different faculty managers have come and gone, and the school wants to make more use of their full-time faculty.  It was such a blessing to teach for so long.  So unexpected to arrive where I had half-heartedly set out in my own college years, for lack of a clearer direction – to be a professor.

I like the idea of teaching part-time or online again some day for an educational institution.  I don’t know if that will ever happen.  But I do know that without a doubt, I had perhaps more fun across more diverse subject matter than any other professor I’ve ever known. These days I’m blessed to teach a dedicated group of parishioners each week as we dissect books of the Bible and mine them for as much as we can extract from them.   I couldn’t be happier where I am, even as I lament the and of one part of my story.

God is so good, and I am so blessed.


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