Meet Betty

Meet Betty PetersonMy role at Somerset Community College: I teach Writing I and Writing II (ENG 101 and 102), as well as Survey of English Literature I (ENG 221) for the Division of Humanities & Fine Arts. Additionally, I serve as Project 3 Team Leader for the development and delivery of Writing and Oral Communication courses in the innovative Virtual Learning Initiative/KCTCS Online program.

How long I’ve worked here: Since 1986.

Why I do what I do: Someone once said, “To teach is to love,” and the longer I teach the better I understand the meaning of those words. Teaching brings me joy and fulfillment. Yes, just as with all responsibilities we take seriously, there are moments of disappointment and weariness, but I cannot imagine going to any other work with such a full heart and sense of purpose. These are the reasons I teach.  I agreed to serve as VLI Project 3 Team Leader because in doing so I am serving my division and my college, along with the entire KCTCS network of colleges, in helping to make education more accessible to those who are underserved. I also find the possibilities for virtual learning both exciting and challenging. 

My teaching philosophy: A well-thought question is a more effective teaching strategy than a multitude of answers. An excellent teacher not only encourages critical thinking and seeks to inspire students to become lifelong learners, but also encourages them to work to their potential—cautions them to not be too-soon satisfied they’ve given their best effort, sees their humanity and reaches out to touch their lives in a meaningful way, and wants them to succeed, not only in college but in life. An excellent teacher cares deeply, both for the subject being taught as well as for the students.

I like our students because: Some of our students are right out of high school, while others are returning to college after having been away for a number of years and in the workforce. Such creates a good balance for our discussions, and the right seasoning is there for richness. As a former SCC student, I identify strongly with many of our students who struggle to get an education while taking care of their families and working too. I admire their courage and determination and their hope that education will help them to live better, more fulfilling lives. They often surprise me with how quickly they come to understand that writing and literature can help us to better know ourselves and others, and that all art gives deeper meaning to our lives.
A little more about me: Two of my favorite childhood books were Heidi (for what it taught me of love) and Little Women (for what it taught me of a strong will and an independent spirit). We could not afford to buy books, but Aunt Jewell had given those two books to me, among others, as birthday gifts. I read those books so many times I literally wore them out. My favorite movie comes from my teenage years, Imitation of Life (for what it taught me of the suffering that results from prejudice against others for the color of their skin). I have many favorite books now, but one that comes immediately to mind is Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain (for what it taught me of the human spirit). I have written short stories, articles, poems, and plays, some of which have seen publication and production in a variety of venues. Twice a recipient of the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award, I have also received two writing fellowships: a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship and the 2007 Al Smith Playwriting Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council.
Betty Peterson
Professor of English