Faculty column: Home sweet home


Kevin Briggs is an instructor in Gannon Univeristy’s English department. He graduated from Gannon with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2000, and later returned to get his English 7-12 Pennsylvania teaching certificate. Since graduating, Briggs has worked as a professional writer, a secondary English teacher and assistant principal and is now enjoying teaching college courses while he finishes a doctoral program in educational leadership at Penn State University.

Kevin Briggs

Coming home… That’s what it feels like.
Since the day I graduated from Gannon, I’ve wanted to return in some capacity to give back to the university, to enjoy the amazing city of Erie and to continue to grow professionally and personally.
It’s great to be teaching at Gannon this semester, and to be teaching in the department in which I earned my undergraduate degree.
Some things are similar to the way they were when I was a student at Gannon, but the world has obviously changed exponentially and Gannon has changed with it.
For example, the Zurn Science Center is still here, as is the A.J. Palumbo Academic Center. You may find it interesting to know the Zurn Science Center is the first place I ever used the internet, back in 1996 when I was a sophomore, and I used it to look up a picture of Bob Dylan’s childhood home. It took 10 minutes to load that picture using a 56k dial-up modem. That was fast back then, but by now it seems like ancient history.
Gannon in 2020 is a full-scale technological juggernaut. Just walking into Nash Library is a revelation of technology and modern architecture. The classrooms in the A.J. Palumbo Academic Center are equipped with droves of instructional resources, right down to a motion-sensor camera that follows me around the room while I’m teaching so students who are attending via Zoom can get the most out of their experience.
There’s even a Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) staffed by information technology (IT) professionals who have access to ever-evolving, 21st -century technological tools for instructors.
It’s impressive, and it feels great to be back. But, the most wonderful aspect of teaching at Gannon is — by far — working with the students, especially as we collaboratively navigate the challenges related to COVID-19.
My students are attending classes, they are actively engaged in the lessons and content, they are completing assignments on time and they are great communicators. They truly are a blessing.
What’s more, despite how much the world has changed since 2000, and despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, I have been delighted to observe the essence of the college experience remains intact, at least as it relates to my experience at Gannon. My students are bright-eyed and optimistic, mindfully taking notes, participating attentively and sharing a quality of openness and enthusiasm characteristic of generations of college students.
I’m proud to be back at Gannon, and I’m proud of the way Gannon has taken precautions to make sure we’re as safe as can be. Mostly, however, I’m proud of the way our students are managing themselves and taking care of each other’s health during a time when it would be easy to put their education and perhaps their lives on hold. They are an inspiration.
Our students have accepted Joseph Campbell’s call to adventure. They’ve crossed the first threshold. They’re well on their journey, and I’m so happy to be here to help them along.

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