By Jenny Ortiz
I recently spent some time with a little game known as Dead Rising 2. In two hours I killed 543 zombies. No, no, don’t applaud. This is an low number for any gamer. To be fair, I had a stack of midterms whispering to me to stop playing and start grading. However, as I threw chairs and hangers at the mass of hungry zombies coming towards me, I did have a thought: this would be a lot easier if I had some backup. Mario had Yoshi. Cloud had Tifa. In every video game, there is always someone willing to give a helping hand—even if it’s simply to give directions.
Freeway Flyer don’t kill zombies (sometimes we feel like we’re teaching them, however), but I do think it’s imperative that I have a team to help me. There was a time when I thought being an adjunct, especially a Freeway Flyer, would mean I’d teach alone. Sure, I’m the only one standing in front of the podium, but I’ve come to need and respect the community of adjuncts who have come to my aid in the years I’ve been teaching. From early on, there have been mentors to guide me through my teaching observations, Department Chairs to deal with students I can no longer help, and the colleagues who have helped me become a better faculty member.
At Adelphi, I’m blessed to be surrounded by my former professors, as well as people with whom I studied. They all want me to succeed. Recently, I was prepping for a lecture on revision, but was lost as to which example I could use. A former professor saved the day with a copy of a three part example on revision.
At St. John’s University, if my former Spanish professor hadn’t have helped me through the maze that is the course website, and important deadlines I couldn’t forget, I’d have been in big trouble. On such a large campus, where it’s expected that you’ll know your way around, I felt like I might fail. However, she took the time out to help me. Why? Well, she remembers when she was starting out and without help from other adjuncts she’d have been lost too.
At LaGuardia, it was trickier to establish connections with my fellow Freeway Flyers. I was never a student there. However, my mentor guided me through the teaching observations and encouraged me to always follow my gut instinct. Along with his guidance, I had help from a senior adjunct who made sure I always put in my time sheet and explained the end of semester paperwork I’d have to hand in. As if that weren’t enough, another adjunct, who’d started teaching at LAGCC at the same time I had, was always and still is someone off whom I bounce ideas—any time we’re confused about a detail, or simply want to vent about a class gone wrong, we’re they’re for each other.
Okay, I’ve given all these great examples, but what does it all mean? Well, Mario could never save the Princess without Yoshi; it’s impossible to even imagine. Yes, when I’m in my classroom with my students, I am the one teaching. However, especially as a Freeway Flyer, I’ve come to depend on my fellow Freeway Flyers. Why? A community will always make greater strides than one person. Helene Matheny and Lance Eaton are testaments to this theory. Not only do I trust their advice on teaching and on students, I’d trust them to have my back in a zombie showdown any time, any day. I may have 543 zombies down, but with a little help from my friends, I can make it a 1,000 and have my midterms graded.
I’m curious to know how I can build on the community of Freeway Flyers within the different campuses we all teach at. Whether it be meetings, forums, or even workshops, we can use each other for guidance. What are your thoughts?
About the Freeway Flyer: Jenny Ortiz is a quite serious 24 year old New Yorker, except when unicorns (specifically chubby unicorns) are involved. When she isn’t pleading with Kurt Sutter via Twitter to be her mentor, she is teaching at St. John’s University, Adelphi University, and LaGuardia Community College (see, quite serious). When she isn’t teaching, she’s hanging out with her friends showing off earth and water bending skills (not serious, but super fun). When she is alone and it’s raining, she likes to read Haruki Murakami, or listen to the Broken Bells and daydream. If you want to be a fan, you can read Jenny’s work on fictionatwork.com, Blink-ink.com, Jersey Devil Press, dogeatcrow.com, Eighty Percent Magazine and InkSpill Magazine…or you can follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/jnylynn.