With the start of the 2019-2020 academic year, John Niss, professor mathematics, has stepped into his role as Collegewide Faculty Association immediate past president, and Stanton Reed, business and accounting professor, has assumed the role of Collegewide Faculty Association president. Learn more about Stanton, his teaching and learning philosophy and his plans for his new role in the article below.
By Dani Moritz-Long
Stanton Reed’s parents may have lacked a college diploma, but they understood the value of an education. “They wanted the best for me,” Stanton recalls, “and college was new water that they didn’t know how to navigate. What they did offer was unfailing words of support.”
His parents knew that a true education transcended that of a college diploma. It was more than a transcript containing a list of completed courses. “Son,” Stanton’s father told him, “one of the most important things is to introduce yourself to people of all ages and backgrounds. Be open and share with them. Your education will be impacted just as much by relationships as it will be by your books.”
Forty years later, these words continue to resonate with Stanton — energizing him as a lifelong learner and an educator, and serving as the foundation for his teaching and learning philosophy.
“I am now a Valencia College professor, and yet I am also ever the student,” Stanton said. “As faculty, I believe we should always be both. Yes, we are here to help students gain book smarts, but my father’s words still ring true: the transformational and more meaningful experiences — the ones that keep me still excited to come to work every day after 12 years at Valencia — are the ones that occur when I couple the duties of the classroom with the relationships of students, faculty, staff and administration.”
As this year’s collegewide Faculty Association president, Stanton, a business and accounting professor who has served the Winter Park, West and Osceola Campuses, is bringing these values and educational philosophies into collegewide view. A firm believer that meaning and purpose is enhanced by relationship-building, and that relationships are formed through empathy and engagement, Stanton aims to channel as much of his focus as possible into supporting and promoting these integral pillars of relationships.
“The future outcome is to have colleagues engage and lean into each other as well as have professors lean into our students,” he said. “I feel that when you know someone’s story, your involvement with them gains depth.”
By encouraging people to engage with each other, connect through dialogue and storytelling, and find empathy for one another through our stories, Stanton believes that we can develop a richer collective potential. Essentially, Stanton explains, if we invest the time in quality collaboration, we can build appreciation and respect for one another as educators and, ultimately, improve our students’ experiences.
“We do better working toward a common goal together than we do individually,” Stanton explained.
This elevated collective potential and focus on engaging others may organically contribute to many of Valencia College’s core objectives. By empathetically engaging our students in dialogue about the personal and academic obstacles they are facing, for example, we may acquire the knowledge and qualitative research we need to inform our work on fostering equitable, inclusive environments that are integral to student success. Furthermore, employee-to-employee engagement and empathy may result in a benefited wisdom to advance our strategic objectives in the classroom and as a college.
“As an accounting professor, I can benefit from science and humanities techniques,” Stanton explained. “Connecting with other professors has broadened my teaching, and led me to do a deep dive on adult learning (andragogy). There are people on campus who have degrees in that area … It all rolls back to empathy and engagement: talking to people, seeing through their eyes, and learning what their tools are.”
To this end, don’t be surprised to stumble upon inquisitive and encouraging emails and texts from Stanton or find him paying unexpected visits at faculty doors. An essential part of forging relationships is making first contact, and Stanton looks forward to sharing and hearing stories with Valencia’s diverse faculty by doing something as simple and as important as opening the door.
To share your story with Stanton, don’t hesitate to reach out to him. You can email him at email@example.com or call him at 407-299-5000, extension 4224 or text at (407) 496-8238.