More than academic beings

Story and photo by Meg Gould

   We all know that professor who is a favorite to many students—who no one disparages, and whose class everyone loves to take. This fall, Bridgewater College welcomed eleven new professors to our already distinguished faculty. Is there a favorite future professor among them? As a fellow student, I would say that a strong candidate for this category is the new Associate Professor of Education, Dr. Rebecca L. Stevens.

   “I hope to before too long have fully moved into my office and not have boxes on the floor,” Dr. Stevens says with a laugh. “I am very, very happy to be here.”

   The move to Shenandoah Valley from the warmer South Carolina was actually a perk for Dr. Stevens. “It’s beautiful, beautiful and I’m very excited about living in the mountains where it’s greener…and I’m also excited about being in a place where there’s probably going to be more snow than we had in South Carolina,” she said.

   Working as a college professor is no new thing for Dr. Stevens, who worked at a school of education for 12 years in South Carolina.

   Her two twin sons, Alex and David, also just started at new colleges this fall. They are both entering as freshmen, the first at Clemson University in South Carolina and the second at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. Both sons were high school athletes, but Dr. Stevens is proud to comment that they are “focusing on their academics” this first year.

   In her free time Dr. Stevens enjoys gardening and being outside. She is looking forward to taming her garden at her new home in Staunton and adding on a vegetable garden as well. Her “absolute favorite thing to do” is read the New York Times because it keeps her up to date on the current events in the world near and far.

   When talking about her childhood, Dr. Stevens mentions how much variety she had in the classes she took when she was in middle school and high school, classes including cooking, sewing, pottery, wood shop, photography, small engine mechanics, and metal shop. By incorporating this variety in classes, Dr. Stevens explained that the students are seen as whole people: “They [have] all these different parts to them, they’re not just little academic beings,” she said.

   Dr. Stevens plans to incorporate a lot of student involvement in her classes this fall, one being a field experience. She seems very excited about this prospect and explains that her students will be looking at teaching and the way classrooms are organized from a perspective other than being a student. “When you go through school as a student there is a lot of stuff you’re not paying attention to because you’re just a student. When our students go into the classrooms to observe, they’re looking at it from that lens of a future teacher,” she explained. “Teaching is a very positive thing to do. It’s positive, it’s constructive, it’s forward-looking…it’s building,” she added enthusiastically.

   Dr. Stevens is also a big supporter of traveling abroad. “The more time students spend abroad, the better,” she said.  “It’s immensely valuable to leave the country and to travel and to see different parts of the world,” she completed, emphasizing the importance of trying different perspectives.

    She spent a year abroad in Europe while studying at Keene State College.  “I think I’m a lot braver a person for having gone,” she said while reminiscing. “If I hadn’t, I would have a much different understanding of the world and those other parts of the world would probably feel much farther away, much more remote and foreign.”

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