Entering into her 20th year at the College and off the heels of her fourth Chapel Talk last week titled, “Get Curious, Make Do, and Feed the Fish,” Professor Michele Pittard continues to act as an inspiring, integral part of the Wabash faculty. Along with being Associate Professor of Educational Studies, Pittard also acts as the faculty’s Director of the Secondary Licensure Program.
Pittard grew up in a family full of teachers, and so from a young age, there was always a feeling that teaching is what lay ahead, but that almost changed. “I kind of knew I wanted to be a teacher and then during my undergraduate education [at Butler University], I moved away from it and towards English,” said Pittard. “I did an internship with publishing and editing, but discovered I did not like it that much. I went back to college, received my teaching certification, and was fully prepared and content in being a high school English teacher.” Almost 25 years later, that is clearly not the case. After pursuing her Master’s degree and Ph.D. at Purdue, Pittard’s work with undergraduate students reunited her love and appreciation for the in-classroom element of the profession. “Many men at Wabash are too often fixed on what they want to do post-Wabash, but for me I was the opposite. It is meaningful to me to be curious about challenging myself through different career paths, and that is how I got to where I am today,” said Pittard.
One would think that with being part of the same community for two decades, the daily nuances and drive would wane, but that is the exact opposite of how Pittard sees her situation. “It is the commitment of the students that come into my courses each semester, and being able to adapt over time that keeps it fresh for me,” said Pittard.
Along with the combination of committed students and always finding new ways to change her courses while maintaining their integrity, the individuals around her every day push her to continue to learn. “I enjoy working with all of my colleagues. At times, it still feels like I am the new, insecure professor, but now being a seasoned professor and being able to be a mentor, it is a complete flip, and I enjoy it,” said Pittard.
Being part of the fabric of the College since 2002 grants Pittard the ability to reflect and admire some of the inner workings that have remained steady over the years. “I have always appreciated the significance of student involvement and student leadership on campus … we are starting up a Dean [of the College] search, and in previous searches and my work with previous committees, I am fortunate to be part of a place that cherishes and takes seriously the input of its students,” said Pittard.
After living in the Lafayette area for 32 years, she and her husband have now relocated to the Carmel area, as they are now empty-nesters with their three children starting their own lives and families elsewhere. Up until recently, much of her life away from the College had revolved around her children’s education, activities, and different leadership positions held within the Lafayette School Corporation.
“Until my move to Carmel, I have only lived within a 50-mile radius of Wabash … now I have the ability to play golf, as my backyard is connected to the neighborhood golf course,” said Pittard. “My husband and I are also Butler alumni, so living so close to many of our friends during our time there, we are able to reconnect and share with them the connection we have with Wabash.”
Pittard’s impact on the experience of many students only seems to strengthen by the day, and it is clear that her motivation for her students and herself is doing the same. This year marks her twentieth at Wabash.