December 15, 2015
In the first few weeks of a PathwayConnect Life Skills course, a student enrolled in PathwayConnect in Fort Worth, Texas, struggled to stay ahead in class. As each week passed, one thing made all the difference — a dedicated PathwayConnect instructor. “I really appreciated the weekly emails our instructor sent us, more particularly her testimony in those emails. Her testimony helped me to keep going,” the student shared. “I felt that she cared and that she really wanted each of us in the class to succeed.”
Student after student has shared similar experiences of devoted PathwayConnect instructors. While teaching an online course provides instructors a flexible job and the opportunity to share a subject they are passionate about, what motivates and inspires these men and women? Read below as a handful of instructors share their thoughts.
DENISE ROUTSON | Life Skills & English
Life Skills instructor Denise Routson makes an extra effort to support her students who may be struggling in her course. Having recently graduated college herself, she said, “I try not to be overly critical because I have not forgotten how stressful or tiring school can be.”
When talking about the grading process, Sister Routson said, “I try to be encouraging so that my students aren’t discouraged while working on difficult assignments.” She also said that teaching PathwayConnect has helped her feel closer to the Spirit as students are encouraged to freely share their testimonies in discussion boards and assignments. “You can’t help but feel uplifted when grading students’ assignments.”
RON BARTHOLEMEW | Book of Mormon
Ron Bartholomew, an online Book of Mormon instructor, appreciates how open students are in sharing their inspiring stories of how PathwayConnect is a help from the Lord in their lives.
“Teaching PathwayConnect students has been a life-changing experience for me, because the students are so grateful,” Brother Bartholomew said. He loves the level of engagement and gratitude PathwayConnect students show when taking his classes.
TRINA BOICE | Life Skills
The Spirit’s involvement in PathwayConnect learning has made an impression on Life Skills instructor Trina Boice. “I absolutely love being able to blend academic subjects with gospel principles. I love that I have the opportunity to bear my testimony at any given moment with my students,” she said. “Sometimes I grade my students’ assignments with tears in my eyes because it feels like I’m reading the scriptures. They share their testimonies, and the Spirit is so strong. Their faith and humility strengthen my testimony and touch my heart.”
SAM GEDEBORG | Intro. to Algebra & Finance
PathwayConnect instructor Sam Gedeborg, who teaches Introduction to Algebra and Finance, is impressed with the willingness of PathwayConnect students to learn and progress. He said, “What’s most rewarding about teaching is seeing the diversity of people who are willing to take the time to invest in education.”
Brother Gedeborg also remarked about a particular demographic of students who inspire him. “What impresses me is having students who are grandmothers and grandfathers and don’t need the education or the degree, but they are doing it because they are inspired to learn more.”
He loves that he can bring gospel examples into math discussions — something you can’t generally do in other schools. Brother Gedeborg is most grateful that “PathwayConnect offers students the opportunity to accomplish their goals. It’s rewarding to be a part of that.”
TRENT MIKESELL | Basic Writing
“I love working [as a PathwayConnect instructor] — it’s a huge blessing. I also love that the Spirit is involved in the things that we do,” said Trent Mikesell, an instructor in PathwayConnect’s Basic Writing course. “It’s more than just a job because there is a missionary opportunity. It gives me the chance to do something more with my job.” His wife is also a PathwayConnect instructor, and together they love to see the difference PathwayConnect makes in students’ lives.
JENNY NELSON | Life Skills
Jenny Nelson, a Life Skills course instructor, said that despite PathwayConnect’s already low cost, “The most challenging part about working for PathwayConnect is watching some students drop the course because they cannot afford it. If I had a million dollars to give away, I would donate the money to help pay for tuition. PathwayConnect helps my students reach their educational goals, strengthen their faith, and improve their quality of life.”
Sister Nelson appreciates the online portion of PathwayConnect because she received her degree through BYU-Idaho’s Online Degree Program. She also enjoys seeing how PathwayConnect has spread all over the world in serving students. “It’s fun to realize that the Church is growing so strong in parts of the world to which I’ve never been.”
These thoughts represent only a fraction of the wonderful brothers and sisters who serve as online PathwayConnect instructors. It is clear that there are many benefits to being a PathwayConnect student. However, learning about PathwayConnect’s instructors and their experiences makes it apparent that the blessings of the program spread not only to the students, but to all who participate.