NCC’s Monroe campus is used to dealing with winter weather adversity, but this year’s pounding has been something new.
Since Jan. 17, the Pocono Township site has experienced at least one delay or closure in nine out of the first 11 weeks this semester, with a total of nine closures.
“It’s never, ever, ever been like this,” NCC Monroe math professor Celisa Counterman said. “We’ve never had a semester where every week we’ve missed one to two days. Not in the 15 years I’ve been here.”
Communications professor John Tindell said his Monday and Wednesday classes “are a disaster.”
“In my 15 years here, we’ve only had this happen once,” Tindell said. “But again, it all happened at the beginning of the semester – we had lots of ice storms – and so we were able to adapt.”
At that time, the campus adapted by holding classes over what was initially scheduled as spring break.
“This time, it’s happened spread out so much that we haven’t even had a chance to adapt to it,” Tindell said. “Every time we think we’ve caught up, we get hit again.”
A compounding factor this semester has been issues with the water main. Breaks and leaks in January and February led to early campus closures and dismissals, further interrupting class time.
Kurt Withey, a professor who teaches statistics, calculus and differential equations this semester, said he is trying to figure out how best to prioritize ways his students can learn as much material as possible the rest of the semester.
“For me, I have to cover ‘x’ amount of material, otherwise my class doesn’t transfer,” Withey said. “So I make sure that it does.”
Withey’s Introductory Statistics class has proven to be his biggest challenge thus far, and restricted time means less attention to detail and more focus on getting problems solved.
“A lot of the stuff when (others) took it, I could actually get into, ‘Well, what does that actually mean? Where am I actually going with this?’” Withey said. “Now it’s like, Can you do this? Can you get through the basic skills? Now, rather than there being any depth, I’m just trying to be a mile wide.”
Counterman noted that as difficult as it is for professors and instructors to keep pace with ever-changing schedules, the students struggle as well.
“There’s no consistency,” said Counterman, who teaches three courses on campus and three online. “There’s no groove. We (professors) don’t even see each other. Meetings keep getting postponed.”
While the delays have wreaked havoc on schedules, Counterman remains focused on the challenges ahead.
“We still have to carry on,” Counterman said, “and I think it’s hard to figure out how do you keep with the work creatively.”