More Inspiring Minds
By Mary Alice Casey
Kelli Bailey could have felt like a number in Carolyn Tice's Social Work 101 class. She didn't. That's because Tice, one of two recipients of a 2001 Presidential Teacher Award, works the lecture hall like a star. The associate professor of social work admits to being a fan of Johnny Carson, and she believes the same techniques that captivated late-night audiences for decades can help her grab and hold her students' attention.
"You warm them up with an announcement, you move on to the material of the day and you somehow conclude by making them want to come back for more," she says. "There's a continuum. Timing is key."
But there's far more to Tice's teaching than gimmicks. A social work practitioner for years, education is a second career -- and one she clearly loves. Her preparation going into the classroom is a demonstration of respect.
"I'm always kind of humbled in front of students," says Tice, who grew up in a politically and socially active family. "We see the world through similar eyes. That's just a wonderful thing for me. I'm energized by their energy."
Even in a large lecture class -- Social Work 101 typically draws more than 230 students -- she establishes a community. Announcements, both hers and the students', open every class. She seeks out information early in the quarter: Who's from out of state? Who's in band? Who's in sports? And she uses it to keep herself and her students in touch. A $2 gift certificate to Magic Video is a typical present for students celebrating birthdays in a given week. Impromptu class surveys, the results of which are discussed the following day, make the abstract less so.
"She is always encouraging student participation in lectures," says Bailey, a senior who plans to continue her social work studies at the University next fall as a graduate student. "She is very interesting to listen to, and she tries to involve every student in her lectures. She's very down to earth."
Tice has served on the Department of Social Work faculty since 1988 and as chair for the past eight years. It's a supportive group of caring professionals, she says. Their classes are lively, their field trips are relevant and their own community service models responsible citizenship.
A number of Tice's own extracurriculars -- as chair of the Athens AIDS Task Force and adviser to the social work honor society and student Habitat for Humanity association -- give her contact with students outside of class.
Dozens of framed photos line the shelves of her office. They're of past students' weddings, babies, vacations. There's even one of a graduate posed with Sen. Ted Kennedy, an icon both Tice and the former student admire.
"She is extremely helpful with any problem or question you might have, no matter how small," Bailey says. "She takes time to personalize material and encourage students to share their own experiences."
Mary Alice Casey is editor of Ohio Today.