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Real Experience: MTC’s adjunct instructors bring valuable career knowledge to the classroom

Two students working on an engine

When Midlands Technical College adjunct instructor Melodie Hunnicutt talks psychology to her students, they listen. In addition to her 20 years of experience teaching at MTC, Hunnicutt has been a non-profit administrator in human service and clinic settings for 30 years. 

“I use my professional experience in the classroom all the time,” said Hunnicutt. “When I can, I talk about real-life clients and situations that demonstrate the concepts I’m teaching.”

MTC, like most two-year colleges across the country and many four-year colleges, depends on adjunct faculty members. These teaching professionals allow MTC to offer its tremendous range of academic and continuing education programs across dozens of disciplines. 

“Something special happens when you can tell your students a story about your real, professional experiences,” Hunnicutt said. “I think that’s one of the most important things that I bring to the classroom. I’ve lived much of this material. I haven’t just studied it and written about it.  It helps bring the curriculum to life.”

Adjunct faculty at MTC are often professionals who are working or have retired from the fields in which they teach. A nursing adjunct instructor who works in a doctor’s office or a hospital is able to help students not just understand the curriculum, but also about all the expectations, opportunities, and challenges that go along with working in healthcare.

“They are content experts in many of our programs,” said Cindy Rogers, the director of the college’s Center for Teaching Excellence. “Most of our adjuncts teach at MTC because they love teaching. They love the atmosphere of the two-year college, and they really appreciate the diversity of the student population. Teaching as an adjunct instructor is a rewarding experience.”

Rogers provides ongoing training for adjuncts and regular workshops that focus on teaching and learning. Every fall semester before classes begin, Rogers organizes a conference to make sure MTC’s adjunct instructors are well-prepared to enter the classroom. They get updated on the college’s learning management system, best practices on teaching community college students, and the various college resources available to faculty and students.

Hunnicutt said taking advantage of all the professional development opportunities for adjunct instructors is a great way to get involved in their department and the college.

“As an adjunct faculty, you want to be involved in more than just teaching,” Hunnicutt said. “Otherwise, things can become isolated. To do the best job, adjunct faculty need to have a big picture of the college and what our part is. Your job becomes much more meaningful, and you become so more effective at what you do.”

See what employment opportunities MTC has for adjunct instructors