Dr. Barbara Schmidt-Rinehart
What do you enjoy most about teaching at AU?
Ashland University provides a small setting for faculty as well as students. That means that we are able to have a voice and impact decisions of the university. It also means working across disciplines with colleagues of other areas. It is easier to affect change in this type of setting. Technology is starting to change that type of interaction among colleagues – I still believe that face-to-face and actual dialogue is the best way to work through issues and provide the best possible programs for our students.
I’ve also enjoyed and appreciated the tremendous flexibility and freedom regarding the courses I teach and the day-to-day schedule.
What has been your favorite moment(s) as a professor thus far?
Being one of the first recipients of the Ashland University Taylor Teaching Award was definitely a highlight. Other recognitions of my teaching – mentor award, outstanding state Foreign Language Professor award, etc. I work very hard to create a classroom environment that leads students to proficiency in a foreign language – and when someone recognizes it, that’s rewarding.
Other favorite moments are when I hear back from students after they have graduated – and they express their appreciation for what they learned in my class, or for my advice, etc.
What has been your most meaningful project/study/accomplishment to date?
My work in study abroad has shaped my life – the programs I’ve been involved with here at A.U. and the research I’ve conducted concerning the homestay component of study abroad. I started the “AU in Mexico” (now “AU in Costa Rica”) program over 20 years ago and have seen students’ lives and view of the world change every single year. Year after year I have the privilege of hearing their testimonials about the impact this program has had on them.
I’m involved in study abroad in other ways, too – with other A.U. summer and semester-long programs, conducting graduate classes abroad for U.S. teachers of Spanish, sitting on the A.U. International Programs Committee as well as the board of our international consortium, etc.
Have your teaching methods changed at all since you began? If so, how?
Language classes have always been interactive and we have always used some type of technology. However, the ability now to teach in a media classroom with immediate access to the Spanish speaking world is just phenomenal. We can make the language real to the students; with little effort they can experience other cultures without leaving the classroom (videos, music, newspapers, etc.) I now use these resources every single day – and the students are expected to continue this type of interaction outside of class.
Why did you pursue teaching in your particular area of study?
My high school Spanish teacher was great – and he encouraged me at 16 to apply for a grant to study in Argentina. I did – and I fell in love with being able to communicate with someone in another language and culture.
If you could be a student again, and study a different field, what would it be and why?
No, I wouldn’t change a thing.