Last updated on April 14, 2019
By Katelyn Marshall
Jamie Johnson-Gorczyca is the Settler’s Volunteer State Community College faculty spotlight.
Johnson-Gorczyca, who has been an instructor of English at Vol State for six years, said that she, “grew up all over the place, but spent most of my time in North Carolina before moving to Nashville about three and a half years ago. Growing up, my parents really emphasized the importance ofbooks, and I spent a lot of time reading and writing.”
Johnson-Gorczyca explained, “I was the kid who loved school—so much that I never left. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, traveling, reading, thinking about going to the gym, spending time with my husband and cats, and traveling.”
As to what inspired her to become an English professor and instructor, “I’m not sure if it was a ‘what’ as much as a ‘who,’” Johnson-Gorczyca said. “I went to graduate school because I didn’t necessarily want to dive into a jobless economy.”
“As a grad student, I thought that I might become an editor or a technical writer. But my mentors encouraged me to teach a few composition courses. I was extremely hesitant because I feared I wouldn’t be a good educator. But I fell in love with it and knew I never wanted to do anything else,” Johnson-Gorczyca explained.
Johnson-Gorczyca’s journey was, “both joyful and frustrating. Academia is highly competitive, and it’s hard to secure full-time work. There were a lot of times I felt like giving up.”
“But I feel at home in the classroom, and I’m glad that I’ve persevered under challenging circumstances. I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far without the support of my family, friends and my incredible colleagues at Vol State,” Johnson-Gorczyca said.
What Johnson-Gorczyca enjoys the most about teaching is, “helping students find their voice. A lot of students come into a college composition classroom without much confidence. They’re under the impression that they are ‘bad’ writers, or they have never been given the opportunity to write outside strict assignment parameters. I like to help them explore different ways to write and help them see that writing doesn’t have to be a painful process. Writing is one of our most powerful tools.”
Johnson-Gorczyca said, “There isn’t a typical day, which is one of the many reasons why I love my job. But I’ll give an example. On Wednesday, I go to Hendersonville High School around 7:45 a.m. to teach dual enrollment. After that, I go over to the main campus [at Vol State] and get some work done in my office—it might be planning, grading, and responding to e-mails.”
She continued, “I teach English 1020 at 11:10 a.m. and then go back to my office and enter class work grades into e-learn. I will continue to grade, plan or do some committee work. I will go home around 2:30, take a break and then work for an hour or two from home. I really like the flexibility of my job.”
A tip that she gives to all students is, “take advantage of the resources available on campus to help you be successful. For starters, we have a great library. Consider asking the librarians for help with a research assignment or for a book recommendation.”
“Check out Career Services, too. They can help you with resumes, cover letters, interviews, and the job search. If you or one of your classmates are struggling with putting food on the table, head on over to Vol State’s food bank for students, the Feed,” Johnson-Gorczyca explained.
“Finally, go to office hours. I feel that office hours are highly under-utilized by students. Going to office hours will offer you some extra help and shows that you care,” Johnson-Gorczyca said.
A quote to the world that Johnson-Gorczyca used was from Sterling K. Brown, “Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.”