Education supplemented by teaching

Brianne Fleming, Staff Writer

Students say they receive valuable experience from being mentors for academic and personal success and supplemental instructors for Pitt-Johnstown professors, leading them to consider a career in teaching.

Mentors are students who assist professors with courses.  The mentors are some of the top juniors or seniors at Pitt-Johnstown and also tend to be involved in many other teaching activities, such as tutoring. They maintain a high grade-point average as well.

Similarly, supplemental instructors, such as Pitt-Johnstown student T.J. Rohrabaugh, provide peer support and a somewhat different perspective for students in classes that tend to be difficult.

Rohrabaugh said that his experience as a supplemental instructor has helped him gain public speaking, teaching and time-management skills.

“Teaching has always been a possible career goal,” said Rohrabaugh. “However, being an supplemental instructor has made teaching a stronger possibility.”

Rohrabaugh helps General Chemistry Professor Timothy Evans by teaching General Chemistry II for two one-hour sessions a week. After gaining some teaching experience, he said he can’t imagine how hard it is to prepare for four hours of class a week.

“It gives another outlet for students to get help,” said Rohrabaugh.  “It alleviates some of the professor’s workload.”

The supplemental instructor reviews material with the professor, attends every class and meets with students once a week to review the more challenging information.

Like Rohrabaugh, UPJ senior Courtney Gummo agrees that assistant teaching for a professor has made her want to pursue being one.

Gummo, who was a supplemental instructor last year for social statistics professor Andrea Ryan, said she enjoys helping students properly adjust to college and setting the right examples for them.

“It’s rewarding when you know that they are listening to you.”

Gummo, who now assists Paul Douglas Newman in teaching University Scholarship classes for freshmen, said she likes being able to assist Newman, and at the same time has received a feel for what teaching is like.

“It gets you thinking about what to say to get through to the students, and you have to present yourself well.”

Every week, students such as Gummo run a portion of class for the instructor. They also tend to provide mentoring and extra help in scheduled meetings.

Timothy Evans said having a supplemental instructor has lightened his workload.

“In general, the supplemental instructor is a big help to both myself and the students,” said Evans.

Evans said having a supplemental instructor there to review the more difficult material with the students helps them succeed in not only his course, but future chemistry courses as well.

“(Rohrabaugh) has done a phenomenal job as a supplemental instructor,” said Evans.

Newman said he benefits from Gummo’s help, also.

“She’s been through what these students have,” said Newman. “She helped me understand my role in teaching that class and gives me her perspective on what students need from me.”

Newman said he thinks that students like Gummo not only gain leadership skills, but perform an important service to the university and its students.

“Students have a student to interact with,” said Newman. “It is very successful.”