Associate Professor Connects with Students through Writing

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There’s a reason Jay Peterson, Associate Professor of Developmental English, was voted Teacher of the Year four times in his 9 years of teaching at Atlantic Cape. He has a true connection to his students.

“The challenges and rewards are great for developmental students, and also in teaching them. I strongly believe in the community college mission. I love teaching the students who may not have had as much success as their peers or are challenged in some way…they often have one foot in school and the other somewhere else. Starting college on a positive note can help them be successful in the long term.”

After a negative personal experience as a student at a private college, Peterson switched to a public university, where he blossomed. “Private school wasn’t for me,” he said. “I like the philosophy of a more public, more accessible education. Community college epitomizes accessibility to higher education.

Classroom discussion and the conversations with individual students through their writing, are the best part of the job.

“Classroom discussion and the conversations with individual students through their writing, are the best part of the job,” Peterson said. “I enjoy the more personal aspects of getting to know my students as individuals.”

His goal for his students is to not just get them ready for college-level reading and writing, but to help develop them as thinkers—to make them more aware of the world they live in, whether it is through local or global issues.

“Ultimately, my goal as an educator is to equip them with the tools that will enable them to enrich their lives, whether through their careers or personal experiences,” Peterson said.

Peterson was named chairperson of the English Department recently, but is still in the classroom.  He earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy from Rutgers University. Peterson serves as Data Team co-facilitator for Atlantic Cape’s Achieving the Dream Initiative, part of the college’s broader Student Success Initiative, which focuses on enhancing student retention, graduation and success.

And if he looks familiar, it may be because Peterson was a Jeopardy! champion in October 2011.

Kathy B. McGowan

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