Monique Pittman, Educator of the Year, Offers Her Secret

By Julie Z. Lee on November 12, 2007

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Is there a secret to great teaching?

L. Monique Pittman, assistant professor of English, pauses only for a second before answering. "Well, it has to be my absolute conviction that what I am doing matters and has great importance."

On May 21, Pittman became the youngest professor to receive the Educator of the Year Award here at PUC. Seated in a "throne" of sorts, Pittman was honored by students and fellow faculty members in what was supposed to be a roast, but turned out to be a touching tribute. She was lauded for many things, from her impeccable fashion sense to her one page, single-spaced responses to her students' papers.

"I'm very sensitive, so I'm glad it wasn't a roast," smiles Monique. "The whole morning turned out to be overwhelming emotionally, because people usually don't say such nice things in such a short amount of time."

Surprisingly, Pittman didn't really intend to become a teacher. Early childhood photos show her dressed in medical garb, giving her mother a shot with a plastic syringe. She seriously considered going into marketing, so that she could do promotions for the arts. Entering into her freshman year at Andrews, she registered as undecided.

It was in English 111 that she found her calling."I had the most amazing teacher who typed one-page responses to our papers," remembers Monique. "In class we did great things that were inspiring."

Monique's philosophy of education fits in well here at PUC. She says, "I believe in the importance of building community through what we learn. Paul [her husband] and I both really feel that our religious community matters, and we want to share that with others."

The secret to great teaching may rest in just such a philosophy.