Editor’s Note: Associate Professor Patty Castelli of LTU’s College of Management is this year’s recipient of the Henry B. and Barbara J. Horldt Excellence in Teaching Award, which is funded by LTU alumnus Henry B. Horldt in honor of his father. She specializes in instructional technology and administrative and organizational studies.
By Patty Castelli
When I completed my MBA degree at Lawrence Technological University, I decided that a long-term goal of mine was to become a full-time professor. I realized my desire to teach (and to do so with enthusiasm and skill) as a direct result of my various professors’ coaching and mentoring over the years. Their dedication, both individually and collectively, made a profound impact on my personal and professional views of life.
I received my PhD from Wayne State University, which assisted me in achieving my goal of becoming a professor and taught me the importance of motivating students in classroom instruction. The education I received at each of the institutions where I studied proved to be an enormous learning tool in becoming a good student, a good listener, and a good teacher:
I love teaching because my job has purpose and a great deal of significance. I can truly make a difference in the lives of other people, which is a huge responsibility that I approach with a humble heart. As a professor, I have the power to help increase or decrease the self-esteem and self-confidence of others and I am actively aware of this each time I teach. This power must be recognized so that it is never abused.
Beyond being a technical expert in my discipline, I feel it is my personal responsibility to raise the confidence level of each and every student who is in my class. If I can help them to see their worth, their gifts and talents, and their contributions, a major shift occurs in our classroom. The tendency to compete diminishes, the worries about grades subside, and the environment becomes safe, collaborative and fun. Students open up and respond!
We talk about everything – our challenging work situations, our strengths, our shortcomings and mistakes – and we learn from each other and from our experiences. I am a firm believer in reflective leadership. Students want to do well and be successful in my classes because they enjoy the relevance and real-world applications of the learning experience. It’s such a rewarding process and it happens each time I teach. I am very passionate about helping current and future leaders develop their skills.
I have also learned the value of scholarly activity. Engaging in research and being published in peer-reviewed journals keep a professor current in her/his field and helps build credibility, particularly when teaching at the doctorate level and supervising students’ dissertations. Respect is evident among students and reinforces the need of faculty to practice what we preach.
How fortunate I am to love what I do. Since 1995, my role as professor and educator has brought me a great deal of personal satisfaction. And if I have helped others in some small way to attain the courage to find their life’s purpose and learn how to actively pursue their dreams, then my work is even more meaningful. I am proud of the work I do and am grateful for the position I have. I look forward to many years of continued service with Lawrence Tech.