By Dani Moritz-Long
Nicole Marsh, professor, speech, spent most of her career happily employed as an administrator in education. She was naturally suited for the kind of servant leadership it required, and it was the ideal use for her educational background, which includes a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication, two master’s degrees, one in communication and another business administration, and a doctorate of education.
But, then, after years of serving in similar types of roles, she began to wonder. She was introduced to something she calls the “rocking chair concept,” a type of reflection that involves asking yourself if, when you’re old and sitting on a rocking chair thinking about your life, there might be something you regret not doing, not trying or experiencing.
“It made me think,” Nicole said, “and for me it was trying my hand at teaching. I wasn’t sure if I would be good at it; quite frankly it was outside of my comfort zone.”
Yet, Nicole said, as the saying goes, “everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
So, she gathered her courage and reached out to Lake Nona Campus Executive Dean Mike Bosley. Two months into her first part-time teaching role, Mike hired her to teach full time at the Lake Nona Campus.
“Nicole is one of our most dynamic Lake Nona Campus professors,” Mike said. “She provides her students with the utmost support and creates an active learning environment. Dr. Marsh puts her students first in everything she does, and I know her students are learning. Nicole represents the best our College has to offer.”
To create a dynamic and supportive learning environment, Nicole says she calls upon her experiences as both an administrator and a student — which help her shape her teaching practices.
“I think my administrative experience gives me a different perspective in how I work with students,” Nicole said. “I can see all sides of a situation — the student, the administrative and the faculty perspective. This helps me approach things differently and work toward solutions that meet all needs.”
Additionally, she said, “I’ve been a student for so much of my life, so that experience is still fresh for me and guides me giving my students the best possible experience.”
Nicole is also devoted to meeting our students where they are, which, for her, means adapting to modern modalities, like online learning. In fact, Nicole considers earning her Digital Professor Certificate one of her crowning Valencia achievements.
“Today,” she says, “there is a large demand for flexibility and options in taking classes, so why not meet that demand? Personally, I enjoy the challenge of creating an online experience that is engaging and meaningful. Coming up with new ways to do that, as well as transforming collaborative in-class activities into the online space, is a satisfying endeavor for me.”
Adding to the mile-long list of things Nicole loves about teaching at Valencia College — and, in particular, the Lake Nona Campus — is the close-knit community she serves. A resident of the Lake Nona community herself, Nicole enjoys the deep connection she has with many of her students who, like her, call the rapidly growing area home.
“I see my students everywhere I go, so I form a deeper connection than I would if I only saw them in class,” she explained. “Some of them have younger siblings in school with my kids, some of them work at my grocery store, car wash, you name it — they meet my kids and really get to know me. It gives them a chance to see me as a real human and not just a professor.”
Outside of work, Nicole enjoys time with her family, exploring the Lake Nona community — which she describes as a unique juxtaposition of metro and rural living (where else do you find cows grazing beside ultra modern medical complexes?) — reading historical fiction, staying active, traveling and channeling her inner researching by delving into her family background and genealogy.
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.