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Unplugged: Extra credit
By Scott Wudel on June 1, 2016
Employees teach night classes, help others improve their skills
Some long for the days of summer and escaping the classroom. Others are eager to find their way back to the hallowed halls at local universities.
As another school year comes to a close, so does another semester for those who make time to teach in addition to holding a full-time job. At CPS Energy, several of our team members work a full day here before heading out to an evening gig as lecturers.
“I like teaching,” says Cory Kuchinsky, director of Enterprise Risk Management & Solutions and a certified public accountant who teaches accounting courses at Trinity University. “Accounting can be complex. I feel comfortable in my ability to break it down in a manner that can be easily understood.
“Teaching and coaching is rewarding because you know something, have something to offer and you’re helping someone to improve at whatever it is.”
Teaching classes at night, and the extra time and work, is more about passion than an extra paycheck.
“If I really wasn’t passionate about teaching and education, and giving back to the community, I wouldn’t continue to do it,” says Pearl Martinez, a safety analyst who teaches two evening classes every week.
For the last 10 years, Pearl has taught Adult Degree Completion Program, or ADCaP, courses for the University of the Incarnate Word. These eight-week courses meet twice a week and are designed to help adult professionals complete degrees amidst their busy schedules.
“For me to see an adult that learned something, and for them to come back later and say I helped them – that’s the most fulfilling thing for me. I know I’ve accomplished something and made a difference.”
Teachers have homework, too
Teaching requires extra time to prepare for class discussions, read course textbooks and create homework assignments and tests.
“You can’t be a teacher and not still be a student. It’s a lot of work,” says Paul Flaningan, director of Corporate Communications and Marketing who just finished leading his first graduate communication class at UTSA. “Teaching forces you to organize your thoughts and do your own research. You can’t just go up there and talk for 15 minutes. You’ve got to really know your stuff.”
A master’s degree is a minimum requirement to teach a college course.
“I joke that I kind of did my degree twice,” Kuchinsky says. “You have to read all of the topics to prepare for each class. It is a really great experience for me to stay fresh on everything.”
Head of the class
Class sizes vary for each course, from as few as four students in a small ADCaP class to as many as 45 in a basic accounting course. Often, teachers find they are younger than many of their students. That was a challenge Kuchinsky remembers when he taught one of his first ADCaP classes at UIW.
“They had more work experience than I did,” he says. “But I was their teacher. There was a level of intimidation associated with that. Not to mention, I was teaching an advanced accounting class. But it was rewarding when I got through it. So I decided to come back for more.”
In addition to full-time jobs, all three also have to fit their families into their busy schedules. But next fall, all three will be ready to teach again. Flaningan said he can see himself teaching into retirement.
“I am never more comfortable than when I’m in the classroom,” he said. “I actually think I learned more from my students than they did from me. The conversations we had in class were just amazing.”