Teaching with Grace
What Makes Professors at Grace Unique?
Grace College is known for its community. Today, we’re going to focus on the community we foster in the classroom. At GC, you won’t be just another name on the roll-call sheet. Your professors will actively try to get to know you. But instead of telling you this second-hand, we have prepared a two-part Q + A with a few professors to learn more about what they do to get to know you, the student!
Meet The Professors:
Dr. Christy Hill started at Grace in 2006. She teaches in the School of Ministry Studies in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. She teaches many courses including Spiritual Formation, Relational Skills for Ministry, and Foundations of Ministry Leadership.
Dr. Roger Stichter is a professor of accounting in the School of Business. He has been at Grace for the past 23 ½ years. Prior to that, he was in the business world where he worked his way up to the position of Chief Financial Officer.
Dr. Kelly Arney was hired in the School of Behavioral Sciences at Grace in August 2014 as an assistant professor of criminal justice. This year, she will also serve as the associate dean. She is responsible for the supervision of all criminal justice students’ internships and practicums.
Q: What are some ways that you get to know your students in and out of the classroom?
Dr. Hill: I make myself available to meet with students and extend that invitation in the syllabus. Then as the session progresses, I try to find ways to connect with those who are in the classroom before and after class. Just commenting on what someone is wearing or what food they are eating can begin an interesting and insightful conversation. In addition, I lead a weekly mentor group for seminary students. School is hard and life is even harder. We need each other. We need to be prayed for, and we need to exercise our faith muscles to pray for others in their needs — all of these opportunities allow us to grow in Christ together. I think that community is an important part of the spiritual journey, so I try to facilitate that in my role as a professor.
Dr. Stichter: In addition to learning all their names in class (now I have about 100 new students each semester), I have an accounting club where the students get to know each other and me. I also hold a cookout at my house and we also have a monopoly tournament and a euchre tournament. I try to share a meal with them twice a year.
Dr. Arney: To get to know my students, I try to be available. My office has an open-door policy. My students may swing in anytime and I tell them that multiple times during class. Being around on campus and being available is the best way to help students (and get to know them). I have a nice comfy chair for students to sit in and my office is always open. I’ve even met with students on weekends and at their workplaces.
Q: How do your students respond to your approach?
Dr. Hill: I find that most students appreciate the little ways that they see me reaching out. Even if we don’t get in a long and involved conversation, they know that I am for them and that I care about them. In my mentor group, students tend to respond by being open to sharing their highs and lows in our group. We celebrate victories and we support each other through setbacks.
Building relationships is a worthwhile investment and actually aids the educational process. I try to live by the phrase: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I tend to be a reserved person by nature, so reaching out to a new set of students each session is hard for me. But I do it because that was modeled to me by my professors in undergrad and seminary. I felt very celebrated and valued as a member of their learning community, and I hope that I can carry on this important ministry — to see people and to care about them and to let them know that their presence in my life and in the classroom makes a difference.
Dr. Stichter: Every year, I send out Christmas cards to all my graduates. I also send them monthly emails with updates about Grace’s accounting program and different job opportunities. I usually get replies from a small group of them.
Dr. Arney: Students want to be heard and have real communication. Having an open-door policy has been great for everyone! It really gives me a chance to get to know what is going on with my students, whether it be the why behind the request for an extension or the need behind that student falling asleep. Most times it is very light, and I love just chatting with my students. I really enjoy it and feel as though it helps them connect to class better.
Q: Can you think of a specific student you bonded with or impacted in a significant way?
Dr. Hill: I had a student who was struggling in her marriage. Through the support of our mentor group, her perspective changed. God revived her marriage, and they were able to make the necessary changes to help sustain them through difficulties. In another case, I remember hearing a new believer pray out loud for the first time in our mentor group. His prayer was so conversational and simple — it was really beautiful. He taught the rest of us a lot about courage that day as we heard him tentatively put his thoughts to words and speak them out loud with strangers for the first time. He felt very vulnerable and ill-prepared to pray out loud, but he also felt supported and cheered on as his prayer life grew over the next year.
Dr. Stichter: There is a graduate from the early 2000’s who moved back to California after graduation and got a business job at a megachurch. He ended up moving back to Indiana. He had stayed connected throughout that time, and because he stayed connected, I was able to recommend a job for him. He landed the job and he loves it.
But don’t just listen to what our professors have said; take a look at what some of their students have to say about how these three educators made a difference in their lives!
“I got to know Dr. Hill through her mentor group. I didn’t get my undergrad at Grace, so when I came I didn’t know anybody. She really made me feel welcome and at home. One time she invited me over to her house and served crepes like the ones I got at a restaurant back home. I really appreciate her priority of head and heart. Love God not only with our minds but with our hearts. She really will pour into you and help guide you.”
Olivia Hall graduated in May 2020 with a Master’s in Divinity and Pastoral Counseling.
“Dr. Hill is marked by meekness and compassion. She deeply cares for her students. She has poured countless hours into investing in me, both for my present and future self. From lengthy advising meetings to two-hour-long conversations after class helping me to navigate conflict resolution amongst my peers, Dr. Hill has a deep genuine desire to lead people in wisdom, encouragement, and prayer. Words will never be able to express the depths of my gratitude for all the selfless sacrificial love of Jesus that she has loved me and countless others with.”
“Students who get to know Dr. Hill will feel very welcome. I was mentored by her, and I knew I could be totally honest without her judging me. She is a gracious listener, speaker and giver. I am so thankful for her. I love Dr. Hill!”
Joanna Erwin will graduate in May 2021. She is majoring in counseling.
“Dr. Stichter was my favorite professor during my time at Grace (even though accounting was my least favorite subject, haha!). Dr. Stichter knew the subject was hard for some, but he went to great lengths to make his students feel prepared. Even as the session ended, he still motivated us to do the work. He would often advise us to just show up. As life gets hard and motivation is lost, I think about Dr. Stichter’s words. Outside of class, I would spend Sundays with him and his family at church. During those times, I got to see a more raw side of him. I’m so thankful for that accounting class (despite the stress that came with it) because without that class, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of being changed and moved by Dr. Stichter.”
Grace Yunker, May 2020 Facility and Event Management graduate.
“Learning from Dr. Stichter’s previous work experiences helped me understand the ins and outs of a career in accounting. Dr. Stichter truly wants to get to know students on a personal level. Whether it be about class or about life, he’s more than just a professor to his students. It’s nice to have someone who I can relate to and feel comfortable around.”
Carolyn Pacocha will graduate in May 2023 with a major in accounting.
“Dr. Arney cares. She goes above and beyond to ensure that her students are cared for. She is considerate and truly wants students to feel heard when they are learning, whether that is getting opinions for assignments, giving time in class to discuss, or simply meeting one on one. She is truly amazing. She wants each student to succeed and do what they are called to do in life. She will do anything to make sure they have the opportunity to prove their calling.”
“She listens to you; she challenges you; she takes the time to really pay attention. Sometimes I don’t have confidence in myself but Dr. Arney does.”
“My first class with Dr. Arney was Forensic Interviewing, and from the moment I walked in, she was the most energetic professor I have known. She genuinely wants to get to know you. She has your best interest in mind, and there are very few things she doesn’t know the answer to.”
Do these testimonies get you excited about meeting these professors and others in your field? You can meet more professors in part two of our blog…stay tuned!
In the meantime, you can learn about professors in your major of interest in our faculty directory.