Category Archives: Teaching

A Season of New Beginnings

They say the first of the year is a time for new beginnings. Well, for me, that day seems to be today. There are so many new things happening, it is difficult to wrap my head around it, but it is a season of incredible opportunities.

I’m teaching, again

Daniel sitting with his cat, Donnie, on his chest.
This is my first day of class picture. I never thought I’d be teaching in a t-shirt, but that’s the joy of online learning. Also, my teaching assistant, Donnie, insisted on being in the shot.

First, I am officially an assistant professor again. I had taught for Georgia Military College for six years prior to having to step down in March of 2016. And while I still am not able to teach in person, today is the first day of my class for GMC Online. It is very different, but I am also very excited.

It’s quite a time to be teaching an intro to American government course. For the third time in history, the President is facing a Senate trial following an impeachment. The powder keg that is the middle east is a little more explosive than normal. Not to mention, the presidential election is heating with the primaries starting in the next few weeks. Not to mention since I’m in Georgia, it’s the second Monday in January.

Georgia General Assembly

Northern corner of the Georgia State Capitol with a statue of John Brown Gordon, a Civil War General, on horseback in the foreground.
The Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. Statues on this side of the building include Gen. Gordon, seen on horseback, and President Jimmy Carter, near the building wall.

At 10 o’clock this morning, the Georgia General Assembly was gaveled into session. For the next 40 legislative days, they will decide the state’s budget and hundreds of other bills and resolutions. It’s organized chaos, and I miss it terribly. They have some big issues this year.

The anticipated revenue is down, so budget cuts will be necessary. Obviously, these are always unwelcome. Some state agencies have already instituted hiring freezes in preparation. One way they are looking at improving revenue is the expansion of gambling in the state. This will have strong opposition I’m sure, just as the state lottery did when it was authorized in the early 1990s.

Beyond the budget, the AJC also predicts there will be a push for a change in seat belt requirements (currently, they are not required for adults in the back seat). Healthcare and education are always huge issues. Governor Kemp’s campaign pledge to increase teacher pay will be at odds with up to a 6% cut in the rest of the budget. And of course, there will be plenty of partisan grandstanding.

It’s an election year, so both sides will be playing to their base. SB 281 was pre-filed for the session and bans semi-automatic weapons and magazines that hold more than ten rounds. Meanwhile, SB 224 removes places of worship from the prohibited places list for concealed carry. It also changes the language regarding carrying in courthouses and courtrooms. Likewise, there are bills to ban transgender youth from participating in sports as their presenting gender and that make it a felony for a physician to perform gender reassignment therapies or surgery. Yet, HB 426 is awaiting action in the Senate, which would include gender and sexual orientation as criteria for hate crime enhancements.

A new opportunity

Finally, and perhaps the biggest thing for me personally, is something that I have wanted to do for years, but always seemed a bit beyond reach. But I’m proud to say, it has finally happened. Over the weekend, I accepted a position as a board member for a new charter school. There will be more details forthcoming, but it is an amazing opportunity to be able to influence the education of multitudes of students in the coming years. Lifelong learning has always been important to me, but my work has always focused on college and adult learning. Now, I will be able to be involved with K-12 education as well.

Needless to say, the future is looking bright. I am still dealing with the effects of cancer, but this is a chance for me to be involved and make a hopefully huge impact on future generations.

An update on, well, everything

So, I know I need to post an update, but there’s not really anything to update. It’s still a waiting game to see if the immunotherapy worked. I’m going for labs once or twice a week, and the results are fairly consistent. I’m needing a blood transfusion pretty much every week, and some weeks more than one. My platelets are slowly climbing, but still extremely low. And my neutrophils (my immune system) is still about as low as it can possibly go. Normal is between 2.0 and 8.0. Mine have been running around 0.1 or 0.0. Continue reading

GMC All Hail!

Georgia Military College has seemingly always been part of my life. Although I was home schooled, I spent most of my teenage years going to their prep football games. My boss’ son was the quarterback, so I had a good excuse to be there. As time moved on, I graduated high school and spent a year at the local vocational school. Finally, once summer day when it was 128 degrees in the electrical lab, I decided that I really didn’t want to be an electrician. I talked it over with my parents, and I started getting everything together for my admission to GMC.

GMC is a large institution, but the Milledgeville campus at that time had more prep school students than college students. But still, coming from a program where I was one of 4 to being in 25 person classes, it was quite a culture shock. In an effort to fit in, I went to the Student Activities office and asked about starting up a College Republican chapter and joining SGA. Well, I had to have at least 5 people to start the CR chapter, but I could join SGA just by coming to the next meeting, so that’s what I did.

In what I still find as an extremely weird twist of fate, that was the week the 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard received deployment orders, taking quite a few GMC cadets, and all but one of the SGA officers, with them. So, I quickly went from trying to see what SGA was about, to being vice-president. Through that organization I formed many friendships I continue to enjoy through this day. I learned to speak in public without having a panic attack (kind of vital for me these days…). I went to my first conference, and while I was learning in the classroom, I learned just as much in the Student Activities office. I continued my involvement, and the next year was elected president.

As time moved forward, like it always does, I won a few awards, went to a few more conferences and retreats, and generally had the time of my life. I knew I would soon graduate, but that didn’t mean I was in any way looking forward to it. But graduate I did, moving on to my first congressional campaign over the summer, and starting at Georgia College as a junior political science major that fall.

Once again, time marched forward. Four years later, with my political science degree and a recently finished Master of Public Administration in hand, I met a friend for lunch at Amici’s. She wondered why I was so dressed up, so I told her that I had just interviewed to be part-time faculty at GMC until I found a full time job. Well, I got the position. And I was now a “peer” to all of the faculty who had taught and mentored me through the years. A few months later, I walked in faculty as my childhood best friend walked across the stage in his Marine blues to receive his degree from all the Army brass. I continued teaching once I got my full time job. And on into my second full time job. But things still change.

Due to my health issues, I have let my department chair know that I will not be returning for spring quarter. For the first time since fall of 2010, I will not be a faculty member at Georgia Military College. It is still a bit strange to comprehend, but GMC will always be a part of my life. I grew up there. I experienced my first take of leadership there.  It was my first professional job. And most importantly, I had my first date with my wife there.

I’m only going to be three blocks away, so I’m sure I will still be visiting often. And I hope that my former students continue to stay in touch as well.

Opera cum Fidelitate

Celebrating Graduation Weekend

In the next two days, more than 1300 people will go from being Georgia College students to being Georgia College Alumni. To celebrate the occasion, I put together a collage of graduations from my past.

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Top Left:

Receiving my Associate of Science in General Studies from Georgia Military College Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Faculty Dr. John Anderson in 2006.

Top Right:

With Ms. Claire Nichols (now Sanders), Instructor of Political Science, following my Undergraduate Commencement for Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2008.

Bottom Left:

Being hooded as part of the Graduate Commencement where I received my Master of Public Administration in 2010.

Middle Right:

With other members of my graduate cohort, Mike Taylor, Justin Mays, and Haly Hicks.

Bottom Right:

My first graduation as faculty (and only one I’ve participated in as faculty). With my good friend Joshua Rogers, who received Outstanding Graduate from Georgia Military College in 2011.

What to do in Milledgeville – Results

A couple of months ago, I did a post inviting others to contribute ideas of things for the Class of 2017 to during their time in Milledgeville. Today, their  time in Milledgeville begins. They have spent this rainy morning moving into the residence halls of Georgia College.

So, from the locals, staff, faculty, and alumni (and sometimes a mixture of all the above), here is a list of the suggestions as well as messages from some of the participants.

Academic

  • Go to your professor’s office hours
  • Build a relationship with your academic advisor
  • Use the Learning Center and supplemental instructors
  • Visit the Old Governor’s Mansion*
  • Visit the Old Capital Museum at GMC
  • Go on a Study Abroad!

Community

  • Enjoy the outdoors at the Oconee River Greenway*
  • Meet and form a relationship with a Milledgeville family.
  • Visit Lockerly Arboretum
  • Walk around Memory Hill Cemetery
  • Go on the Haunted Trolley Tour

Cultural

  • Go see the Rocky Horror Picture Show on campus
  • Go see a Jazz Band Performance
  • Tour Andalusia
  • Attend as many Musical concerts, theatre performances, dance performances, and literary readings as you can.

Dining

  • Eat a Smiley Face cookie from Ryals’ Bakery*
  • Attempt the XXX Hot Wings Challenge at The Brick
  • Get a Spicy Chicken Biscuit from Golden Pantry*
  • Try the Chicken Salad from Goodie Gallery
  • Eat Stuffed Sticks and Hefty Nachos from The Brick
  • Get a “Meat and three” meal from Country Buffet. “If you miss home, go here for comfort food.”
  • Get some Sweet and Sour Chicken from Lieu’s Peking
  • Velvet Elvis has great lunch specials
  • Get some frozen yogurt at Yumo Yogo
  • Try every restaurant downtown

Social

  • Play trivia at Buffington’s, Pickle Barrel, and Mellow Mushroom.
  • Get involved on campus (SGA, Judicial Board, political and academic organizations)
  • Cheer on the Georgia College athletic teams
  • Make use of the Wellness Center

* Multiple individuals suggested this activity

Messages

Enjoy your time as a GCSU student to the fullest! It’ll fly by and you’ll have a great education and some wonderful memories and friends (maybe even a spouse!) to take with you into the real world after you graduate!
~ Beth H., Class of 2010 and 2011

GET INVOLVED with your Student Government Association!!! Run for office, make new friends, and apply for the Student Judicial Board. There is no quicker or better way to have a say in the day to day issues that relate to all facets of GC life!
~ Justin T. Reeves, Former Attorney General, Class of 2010 (BA History) and 2012 (MPA)

Dear Class of 2017,

You are about to enter the best times of your life. From here on out, the choices you make today will indeed affect your tomorrow. College is the time people refer back to- the time they long for after the get into the “real world” and the place that will always hold a special place in your heart. Study Abroad at least 1 time- get involved in at least 1 campus RSO- and remember now is the time you get to completely reinvent yourself. You have the decision to choose to be something great- or spend your college time saying “man last night was so awesome- I don’t remember any of it”. Choose to make memories- not regrets. College is an opportunity to grow and change- but it will only happen if you let it. Never let someone else make decisions for you- about anything. This is your time to stand out- take it. If you ever find yourself in need of help- do the wise thing and simply ask someone. The only stupid questions are the ones you think about- but never ask. Learn from others mistakes and welcome to Georgia College!
~ Rachel Sullivan Pope, Class of 2006 and 2009

Welcome to Georgia College
~ Member of the Class of 2013

And with that, I will add my welcome. I look forward to working with you over the course of the upcoming semester as well as the next four years. If there is any I can do for you, please let me know. Welcome to the Bobcat Nation.
~ Daniel R. Simpson, Class of 2008 and 2010

Farewell to Another Mentor

In September of 2004, I walked into a classroom of a man who quite frankly scared me to death. I hated math, but was still faced with a college algebra course my first term in college. To say I was terrified does not begin to describe my emotion. I would like to say that Dr. John S. Robertson was quick to alleviate my fears, but this is not the case. The more he lectured, the more terrified I became. This was a man whose brilliance was as intimidating as his bold red suspenders were distracting.

I still hate math. But, over the course of the next two years, and with the benefit of retrospect, I learned so much more from him than I ever imagined. He demonstrated to me how to manage a classroom. He showed me how to reward students who make an effort. He strove to reassure me that it was possible to be both a man of science and logic while being a man of faith. He introduced me to the world of Biblical apologetics. While we did not share the same denomination, we did share the same faith and he taught me the importance of being able to defend and describe what I believe.

He was also the faculty advisor for the GMC Amateur Radio Club, of which I was the only member. On the occasions where we would have meetings, we would sit together long after formal adjournment and discuss things related to radio, to science, to faith, and to life. Without realizing it was happening, I was being given a model of the liberal arts experience.

Dr. Robertson and I fell out of touch after his retirement, which is something I hate. But, I can still see his influences each time I stand before a classroom, each time I engage in a theological discussion, and each time I am trying to make sense of a math problem. He had a tremendous impact on my life, as I am sure he has on countless others during his years of teaching at the United States Military Academy, Georgia College, and Georgia Military College. He passed away last week; I didn’t find out until the funeral was in progress. Since I was not able to pay my respects in person, on behalf of all of his former students, I say thank you. You will be missed.

Obituary

I don’t have a picture of us together, but this is pretty close. If I remember correctly, he took this picture while we were operating a Special Event Station at the GMC Business Office.

The Next Steps: Making the Transition to a Four-Year Institution

Before SpringFest last Saturday, I – along with fellow GMC and PTK alum Shayne Williams –  had the opportunity to lead a panel on moving from a 2 year school to a 4 year university for the the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Regional Conference. Luckily for me, the conference was in Milledgeville, hosted by Georgia Military College, so I could make both events. You can view the slides here, or look over the outline below.

The Next Steps: Making the Transition to a Four-Year Institution

About Us

Daniel R. Simpson, MPA

  • Academic Advisor at Georgia College
  • MPA (‘10) and BA – Political Science (‘08) from Georgia College
  • AA – General Studies (‘06) from Georgia Military College
  • Alpha Omicron Epsilon Chapter VP (‘05-’06)

Shayne Williams

  • Mass Communication/PR and Political Science student at Georgia College
  • AA – General Studies (’12) from Georgia Military College
  • Alpha Omicron Epsilon Chapter President

Top Ten Tips

Complete your Associate Degree

  • Credit transfers more easily if the degree is awarded
  • If no degree is awarded, the follow institution can pick and choose by class
  • If everything does not transfer, you may fall behind

Find YOUR best fit

  • The best college in the world is worthless if you do not like it there
  • Find one that has the program you need
  • Find one you can afford
  • Find one where you will be happy

Plan Ahead

  • If you know where you want to transfer, incorporate their requirements into your current degree plan
  • If your follow on program has prerequisites, go ahead and take them if possible

Do not be shy

  • Maintain an open dialogue with your transfer admissions representative
  • Once you are admitted, contact your academic advisor to discuss course selection
  • Visit campus and find your way around before the first day of classes

Choose a major

  • By the time you transfer, you will mostly be in your major classes
  • Because of this, you will need to have selected a major

File all the necessary paperwork

  • Do not forget your final transcripts
  • Make sure to have them sent AFTER the degree posts, not just final grades

Take Care of Financial Aid

  • You will need to include the new institution information on your FAFSA
  • Look into specialized scholarships for transfer and ΦΘΚ students
  • Also check major based scholarships

Attend Orientation

  • Will help you find your way around your new campus
  • Will let you know what resources are available
  • Will give you a chance to meet important contacts

Stay Focused

  • Your classes will be tougher; meet the challenge
  • Remember the basics of academic success
  • Ask for help when you need it

Make Use of Your New Resources

  • Your Academic Advisor
  • Tutoring Center or Supplemental instruction
  • Organizations especially for transfer students

For More Information

Daniel R. Simpson

  • daniel.simpson@gcsu.edu
  • wb4doj.org/danielrsimpson
  • (478) 445-6294

Shayne Williams

  • emily.williams2@bobcats.gcsu.edu

References

  • Hyman, Jeremy S., and Lynn F. Jacobs. “10 Tips for Transferring From Community College.” U.S. News and World Report, 2009. http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/professors-guide/2009/09/16/10-tips-for-transferring-from-community-college.

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Thank a Mentor

Well, I just realized that Thank a Mentor Day was last week on January 17th. Since I can’t exactly go back and write a post on that date, I will just post it today.

4180_1099963553210_4331864_nMy mentor was known for striking terror into the hearts of both undergraduate and graduate students. His primary area was research methods, which is a challenge for most students anyway. Throw in the fact that you HAD to pass his class in order to graduate, and most people didn’t take the class until their last semester, a lot of students had to stay longer than they anticipated.

Not wanting that fate to befall me, I took the class the first semester of my senior year. For what ever reason, it clicked for me. I became one of six my entire time as an undergraduate who made an “A” in the course. This led to me receiving a graduate assistantship in the department to help tutor his students. And thus, I became the minion for the man feared by all political science, criminal justice, sociology, and public administration students and grad students at Georgia College.

Professor Jan Mabie, PhD, well below the sarcastic exterior, was as big of a cutup and as great of a mentor as could ever be found.  He taught me the way of The Force, er, research methodology using not the modern advances of Stata, SPSS, any other software package. Instead, we used an old DOS based program he wrote.

Most students felt tortured to take him once. I had him twice in undergrad, then at least once a semester in grad school covering everything from basic and advanced methods to personnel management. Most people, him included, questioned my sanity when I asked him to be my thesis chair. In retrospect, I don’t think he even read anything from my thesis except the methods section.

He retired last year, but without a doubt, I can see his influence today in my teaching and research today. I have been to a conference and have to constantly remind myself that not everyone was taught methods, and to not let the “poor idiot” have it for leaving something off the slide.

Every fall, when the “minions of morons” descend upon campus, I will be reminded of him. Every time I watch a science show, I mentally start reciting the “Assumptions of the Western Analytic Tradition.” Whenever I look at a cross-tab, I will still call it a contingency table in my head. And whenever I start nerding out over data and a scatter plot, I will be grateful I was trained by one of the best, and quite possibly the most old-school, in the business.

When he got this look going over your data, you were in trouble. (This was at another faculty member's retirement party.)

When he got this look going over your data, you were in trouble. (This was at another faculty member’s retirement party.)

This was the two of us at the first MPA Program Dinner my first year of grad school.

This was the two of us at the first MPA Program Dinner my first year of grad school.

Dr. Mabie has a group on Facebook dedicated to him, titled “Mabie You Can Make It.” Barron Webster (MPA 2008) wrote “The Legend of Jan Mabie” for the page. It may not mean as much to the people who had not been through the program and classes, but here it is.

The kind words of Dr. Jan Mabie reverberate in students’ minds for years after their Quantitative final is done and the last OurStat disc has been removed from those ancient laptops. He began his illustrious career at Georgia College in 1894 when our dear alma mater was known simply as the Georgia State College for Women. His notable students include Flannery O’Connor, Michael Digby, Amici Buffington, Galileo, and John Milledge.

In fact, an old legend in Milledgeville tells the tale of a young Flannery O’Connor who aspired to be a statistician. One day, she’d had her fair share of confusion over covariation and PRE measures of association. She lost her marbles finding T-scores and Z-scores and F Tests… and she took to writing as a way of releasing her anger and stress. Out of pure frustration was born one of the finest Southern Gothic authors ever to strike a typewriter.

As for the rest of us, we now have the tendency to correct our friends when they tell us “Don’t become a statistic!” Because you’re never a statistic- you’re a datum. If you need to know if there is a correlation between sex and salary with respect to education level, we’ll be there. Want to know how much of a correlation there is between education level and poverty in any county in Georgia? Give us a call. We’ll even construct the operational definition.

So the next time you’re confused about where to find the nearest “mature analytical community,” sit on the edge of the table. Scratch your chin with your eyes fixed upward and your head cocked like dear Dr. Mabie does. Close one eye and rub the top of your head too. And be grateful you’re being taught by one of the sharpest, most respectable, and illustrious minds Georgia’s Public Liberal Arts University has ever seen- but please don’t mess up the laptops.