I began teaching college courses as a graduate student at Portland State University and was hired to teach at Portland Community College as a part time instructor before I had finished my Master’s degree. I continued to teach at both PSU and PCC for the next few years, as well as Clark College, and drove from campus, college, teaching site to campus, college and teaching site for about 500 miles a week. I became an educational prostitute: you pay me and I'll teach it. I taught an average of seven classes a term, mostly because I was afraid a class wouldn’t meet and I wouldn’t be able to feed my sons. I continued to work at the neighborhood store. I continued to collect newspapers. My sons grew old enough to have part-time jobs. We were breathing a bit easier by now.
Portland State University offered me a full-time teaching position on a grant. I was the first instructor to be hired in the department without a PhD. As a full-time instructor, I started the group advising sessions for Speech Communication majors, set the parameters for Speech minors and became the adviser for all minors. I juggled some 40 majors under my advisement as well. I stayed busy.
Meanwhile, I continued to teach at PCC, for I didn’t want to lose my classes if the grant money went away. When PCC offered me a temporary one-year teaching position, I hesitated because I didn’t want to lose my full-time position at PSU. But I decided I needed to take the risk—I needed a stable position not relying on grant money. When I told the department chair at PSU I was taking this position, he offered to hold the PSU position open to me if I needed to return. PCC also offered to hold my classes for me if I needed to return as a part time instructor. So I was a risk-taker who didn’t have to take any risks. PCC hired me, through an aggressive national search, as a full-time permanent-track the following year. I was on a tenure-track at last.
I started my tenure at Portland Community College teaching the required five classes and one overload. I also took on the position as the assistant coach to the Forensic Team. This meant I traveled with the speech team to all events, advised them, figured out the team budget, practiced with them, judged events, learning the whole business of Speech and Debate. The following year I became the acting director of the team. Each year we earned honors at nationals—both competing against other community colleges and against four-year colleges. The kids were just this great. Everything we tried, we did well. It was their talents and hard work that brought the honors. It was my guidance that created a team who cared about one another, working together, building on the relationships.
Over my 25 years at PCC, I have worked on many committees and workshops. I was one of the original members of the Diversity committee. I became the chair of the Student Graduation Speaker Selection committee, a position I held for over ten years. I worked on and then became the chair of Art Beat: a week of celebrating the arts, a position I held for ten years. I was a member of the Curriculum committee for many years, sat on the Educational Advisory Council for a few years. I created such courses as Nonverbal Communication, Gender and Communication, and Mass Media and Society for PCC. I created the Journalism program. I presented different topics and workshops for the Teacher Learning Center on campus at least once a year, often more frequently. I was a guest lecturer for many colleagues, from English Speakers of Other Languages classes to the Sign Language Program to Women’s Studies classes. I became the webmistress for the division, including the Forensic team, the Theatre schedule, the Northview Gallery, and Women’s Studies program. In 1994 I became the department chair for Performing Arts and continue to hold this position. In 2010, my chair position was split in half and I remained the chair of Communication Studies, Journalism, and Theatre Arts.
And on and on...