May 4 – 8 is Teacher Appreciation Week and Hiram College is proud to recognize the sustained and dedicated efforts of our faculty to inspire and drive student success. Every day this week, the College will feature a different faculty member from each school.
Today, read more about Mary Quade, M.F.A., an associate professor of English in the College’s School of Arts, Humanities, and Culture.
Why did you become an educator?
I always tell my students I teach because I want to stay in school forever. I was (and am) attracted to teaching at Hiram in part because of its reputation for changing lives. Before I moved to Ohio, I’d taught high school in Oregon for six years and knew Loren Pope’s Colleges that Change Lives, because of my high school students. I’ll admit, I’d never heard of Hiram until I came to Ohio, but I was familiar with most of the colleges in that book, and Hiram was in great company. Once I started teaching here, it was clear why Pope had featured it.
Talk about your favorite courses to teach.
I don’t know that any particular course is my favorite. I do love teaching Writing About Nature, because it’s outside at the Field Station. We have class at picnic tables under the trees or on the trails. Basics of Creative Writing is fun because sometimes it’s the first time students have tried writing something that isn’t a formal paper. The creative nonfiction and literary journalism courses are exciting for me because I learn about cool things from the students’ projects: the old local interurban trains, elk reintroduction in rural Pennsylvania, cryonics, corn maze design, tattoo removal, Yaoi, bird strike rescue, cheese, K-Pop, pumpkin festivals, ants, and so much more.
Tell us about someone who has influenced you as a teacher.
There are so many people, from kindergarten to now, who challenged me to be better as a thinker and writer and inspire me to try to be like them. But really, my students have taught me the most important lessons about teaching.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Having conversations with students about things that are important to them and seeing them articulate their ideas into powerful pieces. Like I said earlier, I get to be in school forever.
What do you hope your students accomplish during their time at Hiram and beyond?
I hope during their time at Hiram, my students find a community that recognizes their strengths, but also helps and challenges them to push those strengths.
Beyond Hiram, I hope my writing students find the courage to keep writing even when no one asks them to. Writers are important witnesses to both the accomplishments and the injustices in the world. We need their words documenting our struggles so that we all feel less alone and more connected to humanity. I also hope they find joy and solace in writing.
Tell us about your favorite memory during your teaching career.
There are too many to choose from. Though one of my favorite memories is from the study abroad trip I team-taught with Sandy Madar to the Galapagos. We were taking a break on our boat when Martin, our guide, told us we were passing by a bunch of whales, and we all jumped right off the stern to see them. I never spotted them, but everyone else did. Everyone was so excited. And I think having a teacher straining to see something as obvious as a whale while everyone else got more than a glimpse is a terrific metaphor. A favorite recent memory is watching Hiram’s new Writer in Residence cohort this year teach creative writing at the Portage-Geauga Juvenile Detention Center.