Every Professor has a different story and a different background. Not every professor wakes up in the morning, eats breakfast and ponders on how to make more homework for their students. In fact, many professors at Florida State College at Jacksonville are parents. Some have small children at home who need their full attention. After their children are fed, bathed, read a book, and put to bed, then the professors can lay down and get some sleep. Just kidding! These professors have papers to grade, emails to answer and quizzes to upload on blackboard.
So, when do these professors have time for literally anything else? According to Dr. Heidi Marshall, a Professor of English at FSCJ who has been teaching for 11 years and is the proud parent of a 10-year-old and 4 year-old-twins, calendars are key.
“I have a calendar, and pretty much every moment of my life is calculated,” Marshall said.
Another advocate for the use of calendars is Professor Isaac Brown. Professor of Converged Communications and Digital Media at FSCJ, Brown is currently teaching 5 classes this semester and utilizes his calendar constantly.
Brown admitted that there are those that laugh every time he “breaks out his paper calendar” that he has used for the past 15 years.
“I have a calendar, like a paper calendar, and every month is one page with little square boxes. I find that invaluable, I cannot plan things without that. It’s funny because I do have an iPhone, but the digital calendars I don’t find as useful as a paper calendar… The night before I really try to think, ok what are the thirty things you have to make sure you do the next day?” Brown said.
Professor Marc Boese, Executive Director of Organizational Development and Adjunct Faculty, and Professor of Converged Communications and Digital Media Arts, is a proud father to a 5-year-old and 3-year-old. Boese stated that he wakes up at 4:30 in the morning. After working 9 to 5 and teaching classes, he stays up every night to make non-dairy milk for his children and prepare the dinner for the following night.
“When I get home, I want to spend it[time] with my kids. I don’t want to spend time cooking. So, I do all my cooking when they’re asleep. I’ll do all of my house management when they’re asleep… The biggest thing is keeping my work highly scheduled,” Boese said.
By running tight schedules and trying to plan everything ahead of time, you might think that these professors have all the time in the world; however, they sometimes have to miss out on life’s treasured moments of being a parent in order to stay after class for a meeting or to help a student who is struggling. There are sacrifices that these professors make on daily basis, to help their students. Sacrifices that the students will never know about, but the professors knowingly make that decision to better the learning experience for their students.
Brown, who has a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old, stated that that he witnesses most of their milestones through video message, “Our son, who is like 3 months, he’s laughing and just started smiling like crazy and giggling.” Missing out on these first moments of your children’s’ life is hard.
Boese stated that he tries to cater to the needs of the students, even though he might miss out on certain times with his kids.
“Non-traditional students need me to be here from 6 to 10, to teach class. That means that I am going to miss certain things… I get to go to their events at 9a.m. and not feel bad about it. So, I get to see the chorus, and I get to see the Christmas play, and I get to go to the ‘Dads and Donuts’. I get to go to all that stuff in the daytime when I’m teaching at night… So, it’s a tradeoff,” Boese said.
Being a professor gives them the opportunity to educate the minds of future generations, but being a parent gives them the opportunity to mold a human being. Children absorb everything around them. Being a parent is hard because the decisions you make and the time you spend with your child will ultimately determine what kind of person they will be when they grow up. There are times though, when being a professor and being parent collide.
Brown stated that his daughter will pretend that she has work because she sees that her father does. “Laila knows that daddy goes to work, and she plays ‘work’… She will pick up a pad of paper and go to her room, and is like ‘I have a lot of work to do!’ Brown said.
“One of the coolest things is my daughter always says, ‘I have to go to school today’ and I say, ‘So do I!’… I was dropping her off for, I think it was kindergarten… and she’s got to meet the teacher. Her teacher asks, ‘What does your Daddy do?’ and she says ‘My Daddy’s a teacher too! But for big kids!’ That hit me,” Boese said.
There are also times when being a parent-to-be collides with being a professor. Marshall recalled a day when her students were impacted by her being pregnant with her twins.
“When I was pregnant with my twins in my third trimester. I was teaching a class, and a student raised her hand and said, ‘None of us can focus on what you’re saying because your babies are moving so much in your belly right now.’ I looked down and it looked like they were dancing!” Marshall recalled.
Professors who are parents have difficult jobs. From having little sleep to constantly checking their calendars, these extraordinary individuals put their personal lives on hold to help their students. When asked if they would go back in time and pick a different profession, their consensus was that they love what they do and would not change it. So, the next time you are complaining about your homework, or how late your class may run, please remember that these professors are here for you. Regardless of what is going on in their personal life or what they are missing out on, they are here for every class and want nothing more than your success!