JCJC Developmental English Instructor honored as Humanities Teacher of the Year

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2011-11-15 09:57:12

ELLISVILLE – Trying to relate to a reluctant writer was not easy at first for this year’s Humanities Teacher of the Year at Jones County Junior College, because Rochelle Dahmer loved to write. However after working with high school and college students over the last 14 years, she has developed a unique way to engage her students. Dahmer started integrating technology into her lessons to encourage her reluctant writers after she stumbled upon an article on writing for the ‘instant and text messaging’ generation.

“This article changed my life,” said Dahmer. “It also let me know I was headed in the right direction using technology in the classroom because the author explained the way teachers were taught and the way our students learn today, are very different.”
The Developmental English instructor explained to the audience, gathered to honor her for her award, about the differences in generations. Dahmer shared, she had an electric typewriter and transistor radio but today’s students have computers and they have access to millions of tunes at their fingertips from across the globe. 
“I don’t think this generation could sit in a 1970’s classroom the way we did. Today’s students are bored,” said Dahmer. 
So she asked herself, if my students are able to communicate with people around the world, how can I provide opportunities for them to use technology to enhance their writing? The answer, she said was to incorporate what the students know and are comfortable with into the writing process.   She learned, “Reluctant writers need structure and time to work on their assignments. Their work needs to relate to their world and they need hands-on projects.”
Her thirteen-year old son Donovan inspired Dahmer to incorporate a fun form of technology into her classroom that has also proven to be quite successful. 
“He was using the webpage Glogster, an online poster board of sorts, to create a glog. It occurred to me I can use that in my classroom as a narrative writing assignment.”
These discoveries have launched Dahmer’s students into another realm of writing. Understanding the needs of reluctant writers and finding ways to engage and reach them has changed not only Dahmer’s outlook on teaching but also her students’ outlook on writing. She emphasized, teachers have to make writing more meaningful as students engage in their social worlds. This epiphany changed the outlook for one of her students who has since turned to writing because she realized it was the key to success in college.
“She is always encouraging us,” said Carolyn Patterson. “She meets you where you are and helps you reach your goals. Mrs. Dahmer makes class interesting.”
Dahmer’s desire is for all of her reluctant writers to be inspired. However, she admits, “I know I may not reach every student,” said Dahmer. “My goal is to help the students who want my help. I’m here for them and I’m proud when they learn to enjoy writing.”
In recognition of being JCJC’s Mississippi Humanities Teacher of the Year, Dahmer will be honored in Jackson at a banquet where she will receive a cash award and a plaque. Mississippi Humanities Council representative, Jeanne Gillespie listened to Dahmer’s presentation and shared the college’s pride in having Dahmer as an instructor at Jones. She said, “Dahmer’s ability to incorporate technology into the classroom so students can learn more about the Humanities is so important and we are proud to honor her for her accomplishments.”
Dahmer began teaching at Jones in 2007 after teaching junior and senior high school English in the public school system for ten years. The former WDAM-TV news reporter and anchor received her B.S. from the University of Texas at Tyler, where she majored in journalism. In 2003, she received a Masters of Education with an emphasis in English from William Carey University. Dahmer is also a Faculty Advisor for Cengage Learning’s TeamUP Faculty Programs and was recently asked to serve on the Mississippi Association for Developmental Education Advisory Board.  
This year’s honoree is married to Phillip Dahmer. They have two children, Melissa Alana and Donavon Jared. Rochelle’s parents are Arthur Lee Jackson, Sr. and the late Joyce Jackson and her in-laws are Vernon and Lue Dahmer.


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