A familiar guiding light once again shines in Wise County.
Earlier this summer, Weatherford College Wise County announced it had hired Rhonda Grundy as a professor of Education 1300 – a course the instructor describes as a “success seminar.”
The class, Frameworks of Learning, is geared to help students achieve success in college by developing the needed skills and determining a career path. Grundy will be in charge of facilitating that.
The 30-year educator is on familiar ground.
Prior to her retirement in 2010, Grundy served as an advisor for the federally-funded TRIO programs known as Upward Bound and Talent Search. And for 25 years, the lifetime Fort Worth resident brought those college and career preparedness programs to Wise County.
“I’ve worked in every Wise County school except Slidell,” she said. “And Wise County has never made me feel like an outsider. With this position with Weatherford College, I feel right at home.”
WC administrators feel Grundy is a natural to serve as instructor for the course.
“The education first-year experience class Rhonda is teaching was tailor-made for her,” said Matt Joiner, associate dean for instruction. “The course involves making students aware of what things they can do in order to be successful in college and beyond … I knew Rhonda would be a perfect fit for this position because Rhonda is, above all things, a caring people person. Seeing students achieve their goals brings her such joy.”
Rhonda’s hiring is based on more than just her academic and professional success.
“In addition to being ‘real-life’ friends with Rhonda, we’ve been Facebook friends for some time,” Joiner said. “In addition to having an incredible heart for people, she is a gifted educator. Both these attributes made her the ideal candidate for the position.”
That’s why, when former instructor Linda Whiddon retired after seven years, Joiner immediately reached out to Grundy, who was completing her third year of retirement.
“I was the happiest retired person,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong – I loved what I did as a career. But I just didn’t have the energy to keep up (as a Talent Search, Upward Bound advisor), and I didn’t want to do it if I wasn’t doing a good job.”
But the adjunct professor position offered her the opportunity to interact with students – her favorite part of the job – without the energy-demanding aspects.
The 27 students in her class – which meets for an hour and 15 minutes Tuesday and Thursdays – will delve into career exploration, interest inventories, learning styles, test anxiety and preparation, understanding a textbook (how to read it and take notes) and understanding the college culture.
She’ll get to present information on career planning, paying for college, being a successful student, balancing home and school, and many other need-to-know topics for those in college for the first time.
“Some students don’t know to keep a planner and write down their assignments,” she said. “The motto of this class is ‘I’m in charge’ – as in the student is in charge. I am the boss of the class, but it is up to the student to turn in their work or not, be successful and respond to their circumstances. They are in charge of their education, their lives.
“They all have As, and it’s theirs for them to lose.”
The transition from high school advisor to college instructor brings with it abundant changes.
“The biggest transition is the dadgum technology,” Grundy joked. “Moodle (the college’s online grading and attendance database) is a dirty word … Students use email and texts instead of office hours. It’s a different world.”
In addition, her crop of students differs not only in age, but also in mentality and phases of life.
“I’ve got students in their 40s to students fresh out of high school,” she said. “Many of them have a job and children. They are in a different place in their lives than those I worked with in high school. I’m having to wrap my mind around the fact that they are not doing their first thing in their life, and life is not just college.
“I can’t imagine working and going to college. I have so much respect for them. High school people were my kids; these are adults.”
Kids or adults – the students Grundy works with become friends who invite her to weddings, quincea eras and baby showers.
“At first I was debating whether to take it or not, but after knowing Mrs. Grundy was the teacher, I made sure to register for that class,” said Mirna Colorado, who was a part of the Talent Search program when she graduated from Decatur High School in 2007. “Knowing her personally made a difference in how I visualized my return to college. Just knowing she would be there gave me confidence.
“Mrs. Grundy is great at what she likes to do – helping others be successful in life.”
“I’ve always marveled at how she remains in contact with her students,” Joiner added. “She remembers their names, their parents’ names and their children’s names. She’s never met a stranger, and students can sense that …
“On the day on which I announced (via Facebook) that Rhonda would be returning to Wise County, her Facebook page exploded with excited and congratulatory comments,” he continued. “We’re blessed to have her. No doubt about it.”