From l985-89, Mount Mary College, an SSND institution in Milwaukee, WI, was my place of ministry as I taught American Literature, Beginnings to l900, and l900-1950; Introduction to Literature; Freshman Composition; Methods of Teaching English; Literature of the Religious Imagination; and supervised student teachers who worked primarily in the Milwaukee Public School System.
Hoping someday to return to Minnesota to teach, since now in 14 years of teaching I had never been in my home state, I decided to pursue a doctorate and have some mobility given the advanced degree. The degree that seemed most appealing for the "teacher" in me was a Doctor of Arts in English degree; the University of Michigan had this program; I got accepted for the program in l989. So now, I was "off to Wolverine Country." From l989 to l994, I did a variety of things--coursework and exams for the doctorate, teaching of several different composition courses, working as a course assistant for a course in the Bible, teaching in a living/learning context that involved living in an undergraduate dorm and serving as a resident advisor/resident fellow for a hall of 40 women, writing a dissertation, tutoring student athletes, working as a writing consultant in the School of Business Administration, and coordinating a music group at St. Mary's Student Parish. Life was hectic...I learned a lot and have a Michigan diploma to prove that I graduated December 13, l992.
Having taught all through my doctoral work, I had now had 19 years of teaching experience, but the job market for university English positions was bleak. From l991-l994, I sent out a flood of applications and had on campus interviews everywhere from Mt. Angel, OR to Ladysmith, WI. Having applied for an English position at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD, I learned that BHSU had an English Education opening and was encouraged to apply for it. I was selected for the position and by summer l994, was heading "West." At Black Hills State (yes, it is in the Black Hills, about an hour's drive from Mt. Rushmore) I taught composition courses, English Methods courses, Foundations of Am. Education, and supervised student teachers. Supervision in western SD provided long drives through scenic, but generally unpopulated areas. On trips to Gillette, WY ( a mere 90 mile drive from Spearfish, SD), the highlight was seeing the pronghorn--an antelope/deer that blends into the terrain very easily in fall. I also supervised at a Native American high school located 130 miles, one way, from BHSU's campus. No, I did not have a cellular phone, so I was happy to make these trips in basically tolerable weather.
A particular highlight of the two years' experience at BHSU was earning a grant from the SD Humanities Council for a Summer Institute for Teachers. I offered a 3 week course in "Exploring Literature as a Site of the Sacred." My dissertation, "Sacred Texts: Nature, Context, and Pedagogy" is the source of my interest/knowledge on the subject which explores literature from The Aeneid to the contemporary poet, Jessica Powers.
In fall, l995, I started applying for some other positions--hoping to be based in an English department, a better match for my talents and abilities. One of the positions was at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. Cullowhee is in the Great Smoky Mountains. I moved from "mountains to mountains." Having lived in MN, IA, ND, NE, WI, MI and SD for all of my life to this point, the South is a new experience. I am learning to say "Hey" but still retaining (so I am told!) my MN accent. I am learning, "Nothin' could be finer than to be in Caroliner in the morning..." For an update on everything I've been doing since Fall l996, see my web page.
writing letters--"snail-mail" or otherwise to stay in contact with friends all over;
walking--especially a certain scenic route in "historic Webster, NC" called "Buchanan's Loop";
baking/cooking--nothing particularly "gourmetish" but various breads, cookies, pies, and fruit pizza are among the specialities I provide for my colleagues in English;
word-play and creative writing--especially when inspired by participating in Writing Projects;
quiet time for prayer and reflection;
visiting with friends and being with people;
learning and teaching;
Among my FAVORITE THINGS are roses; lilacs; Teddy bears; waterfalls--water sites like lakes, oceans, rivers, waves; rocking chairs; balloons; cards and stickers (as in those related to correspondence); crossword puzzles; Jeopardy.