What I’ve Learned from Marissa King

By Catie Kauffman and Hannah Hostetter – Education Students

At 8:00 on a Wednesday morning, we intimidated freshmen slowly signed in as we entered our classroom and tried to understand why there was already an assignment on the board, let alone how in the world we were going to complete it.

We slowly read the article in front of us and stared at the prompt on the board: “The Carrollton community disagrees about tests and grading. As an outside observer, you are asked to take a stance on their new policy. Justify your response and support it with evidence.”

Marissa King, professor of education, will transition from Hesston at the end of the school year.
Marissa King, professor of education, will transition from Hesston at the end of the school year.

By 8:02, we had already questioned our major and contemplated walking out right then and there, but these thoughts were interrupted by Marissa King cheerfully informing us that we had 20 more seconds to finish our first “Do Now.”

Somehow we made it through our first Marissa class,  the fear of failure replaced with the  expectation of changing the world. This feeling only grew as we completed hours of reading, drafts of essays, and 18 8 a.m. adventures to local schools. The grueling hours of work and participation were not completed quickly or passively, but with passion and respect for education and the professor taking us on that journey.

Through our two years of classes with Marissa, we undoubtedly learned about education, but the lessons did not end there. Marissa always made herself available to her students whether it was with numerous meetings about homework and essays or welcoming a text or phone call at 11 p.m. the night before an assignment was due. It was impossible to get by her in the hallway without hearing some greeting; there was even the occasional yell across campus. As a result of Marissa’s influence we now claim our education, strive to be leaders in society and consider how our current actions will affect our future students.

by David LeVan – Social Science Faculty

The campus knows that Marissa is an outstanding teacher.  We see her passion and enthusiasm for teaching – those traits are obvious, but what we see less is the preparation and planning she puts into her classes.  There is the time spent before the semester begins planning the course backwards to address the course outcomes as well as the hours spent crafting each individual lesson to maximize the impact and student engagement of each class.  I’ve studied how she approaches the craft of teaching in hopes of becoming a better instructor myself.

The passion she demonstrates with her craft extends to a passion she shows with her students.  She cares about them as individuals, wants their success both inside and outside her class, and pushes them forward after they graduate.  And what has impressed me the most is the fact that this passion is for all of her students from her top education students to those in her general education classes.  She does not discriminate in her commitment to students.  She embraces, encourages, and supports all of them.  I try to emulate this commitment.

Her commitment extends beyond her classes and students as well.  She has an acute institutional vision and has made significant contributions as director of First-Year Experience:  she was instrumental in adding FYE Scholars to the program, has tirelessly mentored scholars to serve as student liaisons with our incoming students, and this past year expanded the common read to a community read that cultivated multiple meaningful partnerships.  She has also chaired the General Education Committee the past two years, and she has done all this with a focus on improving the entire campus.  She has been an invaluable colleague in thinking about the big picture of academics of Hesston College.

And finally, she has been consistently driven to promote equity on campus. The multi-cultural scholars program expanded leadership opportunities on campus, and she has centered her education classes on the overarching theme of educational equity.  And this focus of equity has extended to the systems of power in place at Hesston College.  She has been quick to call us out – myself included – when we, as a campus community, have privileged, wittingly or not, some groups over others.  I hope I and others will speak up for equity in her absence.  She has certainly modeled for us how to do it.  

I will miss my colleague Marissa King.

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