Professor MC, the head of the department is a “servant” teacher


“Midland College knows how to celebrate others,” said Betty Clements, director of the languages, speech and communications department. “This is one of the things that made me love this college! “

Clements said the words shortly after receiving the 2021 Teaching Excellence Award on November 19. At this event, his colleagues celebrated his expertise in teaching and his genuine concern for students.

“I’m not just a teacher,” Clements explained. “I serve and interact with students on a daily basis, and that’s what makes me happy. I am a teaching servant. My job is to understand where the students are and then help them achieve their goals. To teach is to build relationships.

The idea of ​​building relationships is one of the things that William Feeler, Dean of Fine Arts and Communications says, makes Betty a truly exceptional faculty member.

“Ms. Clements is a person who shows love and respect to everything around her,” Feeler said. “As the housekeeper says, ‘She’s cool!’”

Clements has been “teaching” since she was little.

“I have 12 siblings,” Clements explained. “I am the fourth oldest. As I grew up, I gathered all of my younger siblings and forced them to be my students whether they wanted to or not! I created lessons and used old textbooks given to my father by the local director. I handed out some paper and pencils, and I made them raise their hands to speak and answer questions. I knew early on that teaching was my passion.

Clements grew up in Monroe, Louisiana, in a working-class family. Her father was a school guard.

“We were poor, but resourceful,” Clements recalls. “My parents had their own house and we always had a big garden. The garden helped feed us, our neighbors and friends. Whenever someone was unlucky and needed food, my dad quickly responded with fresh vegetables from our garden. He instilled in all his children the importance of helping others. He said that we all have something to give that will bless others.

Clements was the first person in his family to graduate from college. Immediately after high school, she attended the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff on a college scholarship.

“I didn’t know anything about college, and since my parents and older siblings hadn’t gone to college, I had no one to help me ‘show me the ropes'” , she explained. “I remember my first day in Freshman English class. It was a 7 am class, and there were about 14 students in the class. The professor’s name was Mrs. Fuller. The first thing she said was, “I’m known as Flunking Fuller. No one does an ‘A’ in my class. ‘ I was terrified. I remember thinking maybe college wasn’t for me. I held on, and although I got “A’s” in other classes, Ms. Fuller did. I kept my word, I only got a ‘B’ in her class, but I did it!

Clements said she still remembers that terrible first day of college and tries to give her students a different experience.

“We never know what students are going through or their backgrounds, and when a student comes into class, their entire background comes into the classroom and impacts how they learn and grow. ” she said. “I thought I didn’t belong in college based on my experience in Ms. Fuller’s class. Students need to feel a sense of belonging, and it is created through communication and relationships. The way I communicate with them can have an impact on whether or not they continue in their academic journey. Learning is relational; therefore, it is important for me to get to know my students so that I can guide them throughout my class. It doesn’t mean I have to lower my standards – it just means I have to help students achieve those standards in a way that isn’t intimidating or threatening. There is a way to be firm and also to communicate concerns.

Clements is in her fifth year of teaching at Midland College, and Feeler said she is one of the greatest assets of the Fine Arts and Communications division.

“She is conscientious, fun, dedicated and innovative,” he said. “She made a huge impression on her first semester by agreeing to go to Greenwood High School to teach dual credit speech therapy on their campus. Then, she won the hearts of the students and the principal by going to their evening basketball games!

Clements still teaches dual credit speech therapy at Greenwood and has said she loves the community of Greenwood. Feeler said his work at Greenwood has gone a long way in cementing Midland College’s relationship with the community and even helping the expansion of double credit classes.

Last spring, Clements coordinated and led Midland College’s first online diversity conference and is pursuing this topic for a doctoral dissertation in educational administration at the University of Carolina.

“I’ve always had an interest in diversity,” she says. “However, I’m not interested in how diversity highlights differences, but rather how it can bring people together. The differences should not separate us. We have to work together. My goal for the Diversity Conference was to give students and employees a safe space to address differences and then work together for common goals.

“Growing up, my parents never gave the impression that because we were African American we were different from other people. It was not uncommon for us to have people who were not African American at our table. It was there that I learned that we have more in common than differences.

Clements said she can relate to many community college students because although she started her college career as a traditional student, she ended up as a mother of three young children at the age of 30. years.

“In my second year of college, I got pregnant and gave up,” she explained. “It was over a decade later before I enrolled at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. At that time, I was married and my husband was working to provide for our family while I pursued my dream of getting a college education. Our kids were in elementary school at the time, so the kids and I would compare grades and sit at the kitchen table and study together. We motivated each other and that helped us to hold each other accountable. “

As she was finishing her bachelor’s degree, one of her teachers encouraged her to get her master’s degree. So, she went on to earn a master’s degree and became a graduate teaching assistant. Since then, she has held numerous teaching positions at Southern University at Shreveport, Baton Rouge Community College and, most recently, before joining Midland College, West Georgia Technical College in Atlanta.

“I love Midland,” Clements said. “This is my first time living in the Deep South, but I couldn’t ask for a better place to work than Midland College. From the minute I took the job, everyone kissed me. When I arrived in Midland, it was during an oil boom, and I was having trouble finding an apartment. Katherine Allen, who was then the chair of the department, offered to stay with her until I could find a place. Vivian and Kent Moss (retired music and photography teachers) took me to lunch and invited me to their church. I knew right away that Midland was my place.

In the past five years since Clements attended Midland College, she has made a lasting impression.

“Ms. Clements quickly gained a reputation for being an excellent teacher and a favorite with students,” said Feeler. “Then she became chair of the department when Katherine Allen retired. She is recognized as a teacher. excellent leader by all members of its faculty.

“When I suggested that she use Speech 1315 as a co-required credit course with developmental reading students, she immediately joined the team, working with speech therapy and reading teachers to make the program. a great success. In fact, I think we were the first program in Texas to achieve 100 percent co-requisite status in the development program.

Clements arrived at Midland College with the goal of starting an honorary speech club on campus. She accomplished this in her second year and now runs a very active organization.

When the COVID pandemic forced Midland College professors to change their teaching style, Clements was one of the first to start using a combination of virtual and traditional classroom teaching in fall 2020 by simply opening its classroom to students who wanted to take classes on campus. , rather than virtually.

“Betty shows her dedication to students and her job by being available – even answering her phone in the summer when she’s not teaching or on weekends when she’s out of town,” Feeler said. “When asked to take on a new challenge, to help others, to do more, to go the extra mile, to sit on a committee, to be a confidante, to pay attention to a student, Ms. Clements knows only one answer – a resounding YES!

Rebecca Bell is the Executive Director of Institutional Advancement at Midland College


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