Adjunct Instructors Draw on Career Experiences

Adjunct instructors play a vital role in SESP. "The professional experiences that they bring to their teaching provide important learning opportunities for SESP undergraduates," says professor Miriam Sherin, director of undergraduate education. "While they teach a wide range of courses, they share a strong commitment to supporting student learning." Meet four veteran adjunct instructors:
Nancy Remley Nancy Remley, a PhD clinical psychologist with practices in Chicago and Evanston, has taught at SESP for eight years and was recently named Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Member as well as voted by Northwestern students to the Faculty Honor Roll. Of her classes in the Human Development and Psychological Services (HDPS) program, she says, "I bring the 'blood and guts,' the real-life experiences. I can pull out cases, examples, anecdotes of different disorders."

One class Remley teaches is the Practicum Seminar for HDPS students who intern at sites including children's hospitals, developmental preschools, shelters for abused women and substance abuse facilities. She says, "We talk about topics like what to do if you're not feeling empathic, interviewing techniques, diagnoses, sorting out their own reactions, validating their insights." She credits the practicum experience with saving students at least one job for determining their preferred placement and population: "Sometimes what they're planning is validated, sometimes not."

Remley, who has taught at SESP for eight years, is known for her attention to individual students and her emphasis on self-care. "I'm always keeping an eye on how they're reacting," she says. "I convey my concern for their well-being."

Jerry Stermer Jerry Stermer, who teaches Introduction to Social Policy, brings to SESP students his experiences as president of the child welfare organization Voices for Illinois Children.

"In my classes we take time to understand the importance of public opinion, the media and interest groups in shaping policy," says Stermer, "and we are able to use real-life examples such as the campaigns for universal preschool, earned income tax credits and school finance reform to learn more of the nitty-gritty of social policy in America today."

Guest presenters from across the spectrum of social policy enable Stermer's students to visualize their own potential in shaping future policies.

Dorie Blesoff Dorie Blesoff, who teaches Learning Organizations for Complex Environments to undergraduates and Strategic Change Methods to graduate students, has been an instructor in the Learning and Organizational Change program for 10 years.

"When I think about the themes of my personal and professional journey, I can't think of two more relevant concepts than learning and change," she says. "I've come to understand both of these concepts by studying and applying them over the years, in multiple and varied contexts, both from my internal professional roles in human resources and organization development and as an independent consultant providing services in the area of leadership development and sustainable change efforts."

Blesoff's teaching approach weaves together theory and application. "While I consistently provide expert theoretical/conceptual information through 'one-way' methods such as lectures or readings, I rely heavily on interactive, small group-based and experiential methods to augment the learning process and generate creativity and enjoyment," she says.

Carol Gaetjens "I've always been interested in the art of teaching," says SESP instructor Carol Gaetjens (PhD91). "When it's going well, you feel like you're the orchestra leader and everyone is playing in tune." Recently Gaetjens received applause for her teaching by being recognized in the 2006 Who's Who Among America's Teachers.

Gaetjens, who has taught at SESP since 1999, has background as a history teacher, hospital social worker and director of the gerontology program at Northeastern Illinois University. In her classes, Adulthood and Aging, Methods of Observing Human Behavior, and Moral Values in Human Development, she emphasizes a safe environment, creative assignments and student feedback.

"I have become familiar with the idealistic and multi-talented undergraduate students drawn to the SESP majors," she says. "As I spend more time with these students, I find myself wanting to teach in the liberal arts tradition: promoting critical thinking, good writing and making use of the diversity, richness of background and multiple perspectives that students bring to the class."