OFTC’s Susan McGill is Passionate About Student Learning
It’s clear that Susan McGill, a Biology instructor at Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC), is passionate about student learning.
No stranger to educational instruction, McGill’s background is in education at the high school and collegiate level.
After starting at OFTC three years ago, McGill experienced a different feeling as she watched her students. “I immediately felt that OFTC students are taking classes here because they want to learn in order to improve their lives,” she said.
McGill continued to share more about her passion for student in the interview below.
Q: Why is teaching something you enjoy?
A: Because teaching constantly challenges me to look for innovative ways to present content and provide meaningful learning opportunities for the students.
Q: What makes you love teaching biology?
A: Every living thing on the planet is connected and helping students understand this relationship is important—then I am hopeful that I am having a positive impact on the planet.
Q: What do you love most about working with students?
A: The “aha” moment when you see understanding light up the eyes of the student.
Q: Some people have these ‘fears’ of performing well in science classes – like biology. What would you tell a student they need in order to be successful in one of your classes?
A: That learning is individualized, and once you figure out personally how to unlock that door, your possibilities are endless; my role as your instructor is to find that key to unlock the door.
Q: How can you help your students apply what they learn in class to their specific program of study?
A: Science is building a body of knowledge; while every student enters the courses with different levels of knowledge, my goal is to build upon their foundation by emphasizing fundamental science concepts such as pressure and force, or solubility and diffusion. Being able to apply these concepts correctly in the future will have a tremendous effect on student success in whatever specialty they choose.
Q: How do you take a subject like biology and make it interesting and enjoyable, even for students who think ‘science’ isn’t their thing?
A: By explaining how the content or activity is related to current events, life in general, etc.; providing plenty of hands-on learning opportunities and incorporating humor and laughter whenever possible.
Q: What is your advice to those who might be struggling with the idea of either starting college for the first time or changing careers?
A: Life is too short to be in a career where you are miserable, and no one is too old to learn new things. If you always thought about doing something different, investigate and weigh your options. Don’t be afraid to make a change—you can always go back to your previous career.
Q: What do you love most about OFTC?
A: Long story short, I fell in love with the campus years ago when my children took driver’s education courses here. I never thought I would have an opportunity to be an instructor at this institution, and I immediately felt at home.
Q: Why do you think OFTC is a valid option for someone considering college? Why is it a good choice?
A: The variety of programs is exceptional, and I have never taught in any other place where everyone works so hard to provide opportunities for student success.
Q: Do you have any experiences as an OFTC instructor that have made a lasting impression on your life?
A: I think last spring’s microbiology class which experienced a pandemic unfolding in a matter of weeks—what an incredible teaching opportunity to bring current events and relevance into the classroom. As part of their final research presentations, several students discussed the impacts of COVID-19 on different regions, and another student discussed his experiences as a nurse in a COVID-19 unit—totally unforgettable!
Q: What do you hope your students gain from your classes?
A: Basic understanding that function and structure in living things are related, and if the student truly understands how these work together in organisms, there is no need to memorize tons of information.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
A: Often I feel like I learn more from my students than they learn from me since my background is academic and their experience is clinical; the sharing of information from both viewpoints really brings relevance into the classroom.
Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., McGill currently resides in Milledgeville, Ga. She has four grown children: her oldest daughter is a chemistry professor at Mercer University; her middle daughter is a lead research technician at a pharmaceutical company; her son is a developmental chemist; and her youngest daughter is in admissions at Gordon State College.
OFTC’s Fall Semester C-Term begins October 15. There is no application fee or entrance exam requirements for students enrolling this fall. For more info on how to get started or to learn more about OFTC’s 140+ programs of study, visit the College’s website, OFTC.edu.