Teacher Spotlight: Jen Cline

Alexandra Blockton
ablockton@lc.edu

 

Jen Cline has been teaching at Lewis and Clark since 2012 and this is her eighth year here at LCCC. She decided to become a teacher when she started her education at a community college outside of Detroit.

Mrs. Cline was born on April 13th and her hometown is Toledo, Ohio. Her department is Sociology, and courses she teaches are Introduction to Sociology, Racial and Ethnic Relations, Marriage and the Family, Environmental Sociology, Social Problems, and an Honors course called the Social Context of the River. Mrs. Cline’s title held here at Lewis and Clark Community College is Associate Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Honors College. She also holds positions here on campus in Coordinator of the Honors College and a member of the Diversity Council.

Mrs. Cline’s Alma Mater(S) and degrees she holds are an A.A degree from Henry Ford College in Liberal Arts, a B.A. degree from Cornell College in Sociology and Women’s Studies, as well as an M.S. degree from the University van Amsterdam in the Netherlands. 

As a first generation college student, she struggled in her first semester, but her advisor was an incredible human whom was very encouraging. He sent a recommendation to the honors director at Henry Ford, and she joined the program. At that point, she met her a lifelong mentor and professor, Professor San Antonio. He taught the honors English course, and inspired all of his students to be intellectual, humble, intrigued, and excited about reading and learning—and an inspiration for Mrs. Cline to begin teaching.

Her teaching career and experience began as a TA at Cornell. She also taught as an adjunct before coming to Lewis and Clark at St. Louis Community College. Mrs.Cline worked in management at the Ronald Mcdonald House Charities, helping to support families with seriously ill children. She had also done research with Ball State University and worked on the 2010 United States Census.

Best of all, she came to Lewis and Clark Community College when she was working at the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and teaching as an adjunct at STLCC, she decided that her dream job was to teach. Mrs. Cline left her place of employment at the RMHC and started applying to more adjunct teaching positions. When she was applying to teach at Lewis and Clark part-time, she heard that there was a full-time opening, and began gathering all of her materials for her application. 

The best part of her job is spending every day talking about things she finds really important. Mrs. Cline thinks we can all agree that right now we have some pretty major struggles in our society—clashes about political ideas, topics in the media, and struggles that people are facing. She gets to help students navigate this murky water, and hope that they develop passion to be agents of change. 

There is no program in her department, and there are only two instructors who teach full-time in the sociology department. Her colleague, Paula Kelso, is a fantastic scholar and teacher. Mrs. Cline said she is lucky to be on a team with her and their coordinator, Sarah Rankin, is also a very supportive and helpful in her role.

In the Honors College, Mrs. Cline loves how their cohort of students become family and loves that they all are often a bit irreverent and have a lot of fun, while being surrounded by people passionate about learning.

All students should take sociology, said Jen Cline, because in a sociology class, you’ll explore topics that are familiar to you in new ways. You’ll learn how to understand yourself and your roots, as well as gain an appreciation for this big world we live in. You’ll begin to care more deeply about the people around you, learn how to use data and research to help inform your thoughts and beliefs, have fun conversations, and become a deeper critical thinker.

Mrs. Cline said the best thing she likes about Lewis and Clark is it has a gorgeous campus and has a different flavor than most other community colleges, and is full of art, green space, and historic buildings. She loves walking and reflecting on our history and enjoys having classes and office hours in the Reid Memorial Library, which she says is enchanting. Her favorite part is the students, having engaging conversations and debates with the students, and appreciates the diversity on campus. She learns so much from them and believe they learn so much from one another.

“My teaching methods are pretty non-traditional,” Mrs.  Cline says, and adds that in her classes there is a lot of class discussion. She sees her role as a facilitator and she’s willing to make changes throughout the semester with feedback from her classes. Furthermore, she sees her job as trying to inspire students to be passionate and motivated to find things out on their own.

“Students won’t always have a teacher giving them knowledge, so how do I teach them to be lifelong learners?” Says Mrs. Cline. Recently, she added a “Book Club” assignment to her intro course, where students choose a book off of a list for students to see that sociology texts are accessible to them, and interesting to read, which she hopes it inspires them to read more!

Regarding her greatest strength as a teacher, “if you asked any of my students, they would tell you my greatest strength is my passion, I care deeply about the topics we discuss and I want my students to also care deeply! They don’t have to share my thoughts, values, or beliefs, but I do hope they have passion. If you don’t have passion, what do you have?”

The most challenging part of being a teacher to her is deciphering the difference between an apathetic student and one who is struggling. Oftentimes, they go hand-in-hand, and the students who are struggling become apathetic. Sometimes, students struggle because they don’t have their basic needs met. But the most rewarding part is when she get to watch one of those students become engaged and excel. 

Jen Cline said her proudest moment was the first expo for the Honors College. This is the culminating event for each year in the Honors College, where students present their honors projects to faculty, staff, donors, and other members of the community. She had spent years developing the program with the dean of transfer programs, Jill Lane, and she was so very proud to walk around that evening and look at the projects that students completed.

Mrs. Cline’s advice to students coming into her field is be creative and if you want to major in sociology, there are many possible paths you can take that aren’t obvious. Sociology can be a great path to the nonprofit world, social justice work, public policy, and/or research. 

More importantly, goals she has aspired to that she has achieved in her career include the third year of the Honors College—that was a huge goal, and it has been the biggest project of her career. “In the future,” said Mrs Cline, “I hope to write a book on some of the neighborhoods in St. Louis. “

Jen Cline is married to Professor Peter Hussey; they just tied the knot this past summer. In her spare time, she loves to make art, play guitar, ukulele, and ride her bicycle and motorcycle. She thinks that students need to spend more time making art, playing games, sitting in parks, hanging out with friends, and going to museums, because they have their entire life to be busy, so it’s important to enjoy being a student.

Mrs. Cline said, “I believe in the power of travel and I wish my list was longer, but I’ve been to the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, France, Germany, Mexico and Canada.” She really would like to spend some time in parts of Africa, which is where she is looking to go next.

She mentioned she never had much money, yet found a way to make those trips happen. Her advice is you don’t need much money to travel and there are so many options for living abroad for next to nothing in exchange for a little work.

She may be reached on her phone at 618-468-4762, email: jacline@lc.edu and her office location is CW-3333. For her office hours please feel free to contact her by phone or email her.

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