A day with Dr. Day: a moment with the long time Meramec professor

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

A look into a professor’s journey which led to his teaching style

By: LEXIE KELLER
Staff Writer

 

Dr. Leroy Day, French and spanish professor at STLCC-Meramec, has taught foreign language classes on campus for 20 years.  Day can relate to most of the students attending Meramec because just like them, he was always bored whenever he was in school.

“I start from the assumption that most kids are bored in class which is true. A lot of teachers seem to think that school is
just an amazing amount of fun – it’s not for most students. For most students, it seems dull and horrible,” Day said.

Personally, Day was bored during school and did not ever want to be that type of professor, he said.

“So I guess one of my main aims is not to be boring,” Day said.

Day became a professor because he could not think of anything else he would rather do career-wise, he said.

Day had grown a fascination with foreign languages when he was young.

“Even when I was a little kid, I was kind of amazed that there were people that could talk funny and other people could understand them,” Day said.
“To me, it’s like a secret code and I never lost my amazement that people can speak foreign languages and thought it was really cool.”

When Day began to teach at Meramec, it was a long journey in itself. He did teach some before he came to Meramec.

“This is my 20th year at Meramec and I taught at a little liberal arts college in upstate New York for five years. After I got my PhD and while I was getting it, I taught one course of comparative literature and beginner French at Wash U,” Day said.

He began to teach at Washington University as a graduate student, and then came to meramec 20 years ago.

Typically in the U.S., if you teach a college course, then you must get a PhD in the area that you want to teach, Day said.

“I did not intend on being a community college teacher and taught at a college for five years before coming here,” Day said.

He had an undergraduate degree in French and went to Washington University  for a PhD in a Comparative Literature field where he studied French and German.

The best reasons for teaching used to be the three months that they normally got off in the summer, Day said.

Day did not like the idea of working in a corporation if he was not a teacher.

“I never really wanted to work with a corporation. Working in a corporation to me is off-putting,” Day said.

There is a lot of flexibility
with the schedule, you have
to be in class when there is class and otherwise I like to read books and think about things,” Day said.

Day also has interests besides teaching which are playing the guitar and the mandolin, as well as building his own house.

“I built my own house and I was a general contractor for my house. Before I was here, I had a small woodworking business which
I no longer do but I have a partner that still does it. I’ve been a late beginner guitar player for decades and the progress has been agonizingly slow and I play it everyday. I also own and play a mandolin,” Day said.

The autonomy is one thing Day enjoys most about teaching.

“I do like the hours; there is a lot of work to do at home but it gets easier after the first few years,” Day said.

There was a program the college used to have called
“Achieve the Dream” where it was the teacher’s responsibility to take care of the students learning, Day said.

But there was a problem with Achieve the Dream.

“The problem with that is the idea that the teacher was supposed to take responsibility for the students learning and I wasn’t real enthusiastic about that. We have some terrific teachers at Meramec but they can’t get everyone to pass because its not going to happen,” Day said.

From his perspective,
if students cannot step up and play along, it is not going to happen, Day said.

“The French courses go along with those at public universities in Missouri. So we have
to have standards and hand out grades. So if a student took a French class here, they can go on to UMSL to take the next course and be viable,” Day said. “So I want students to succeed.”

After over 20 years of teaching, this semester will be Dr. Day’s last as he will be
retiring from his teaching career in May.

 

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