Distance not a factor when choosing where to teach
November 4, 2005
Filed under News
Some professors have left their homes some 2,000 miles away to teach at Bakersfield College.
Natalie Bursztyn, 25, who is from Canada, is a first-year professor at BC and had taught labs at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, for five years.
But she ended up in Bakersfield because she wanted to come to California. “I wanted to teach at a community college, so BC’s application and when I was ready to submit my application worked out very well,” she said.
She teaches geology and earth science at BC.
She said she would need a Ph.D. to teach community college in Canada whereas in the U.S., one needs a master’s degree. “In the United States, the instructors are able to begin at a lower level of their own education,” said Bursztyn.
“As far as the system goes, I can’t compare what has happened in high school, but I feel like the students here have a tendency to be more lazy than my Canadian students. Maybe it’s the relaxed Californian attitude, but I’m just going to call it laziness,” said Bursztyn.
She said she likes the science department community. “Making the adjustment from coming so far away has been really easy because everyone has been so great,” she said.
One communication professor, Michael Korcok, was skeptical at first about teaching at a community college when he saw an advertisement for the job. He had previously taught at Cornell University in New York State.
Korcok said he was looking at Communication Department teaching openings that had a “debate component.” He said that was his best sales point.
He didn’t have teaching at a community college in his plans, until his wife told him he should look into it. “I really hadn’t been thinking about teaching at a community college, so when I first became aware that there was a teaching spot available here … my first reaction was, no thanks,” said Korcok. He was applying to four-year universities, such as George Mason and Utah State.
“Jess, my fiance at the time, took a look at it and asked, ‘why not,’ ” said Korcok. “I thought, well, there are a number of reasons. It’s a community college. It’s not quite as prestigious of a teaching position. It’s unlikely to pay as well as a four-year program.”
Korcok said the main reason he chose to come to BC is because the debate program has a very long history.
“I wanted to relax a little bit, take it a little easier, with a little bit less stress in debate, so the thinking was, this afforded us a chance to do that. There aren’t pressures on recruiting folks. You take the students that come and you teach them to do well in debate,” he said.
He also said he had always wanted to live in California.
“I made inquiries about the position and found out that it actually paid well, as well as the four-year positions did,” he said.
He said after the end of 36 additional hours of discussion with his fiance, BC had been his top choice and was the only one he actively pursued. “I have been happy here ever since,” Korcok said.
John Menzies, who is in his first year teaching at BC, previously taught geography at Indiana State University. Menzies said “priorities” influenced his decision to come to BC.
“Teaching is my priority, over the research, academia-type environment. Most four-year universities are into research primarily and not so much the teaching aspect. Teaching is usually sort of secondary, while here teaching is primary,” Menzies said. “I like the very friendly, one-on-one interactions that teachers have with their students.”
He also said the administration has been very supportive. BC President Bill Andrews said that a professor who has taught at a four-year school previously is not given priority over anyone else. He said all that matters is that they meet the hiring criteria.