Courses with Character

With registration right around the corner, SUNY New Paltz students chime in about some of their favorite classes and professors.

Laura Cerrone, a second-year student at SUNY New Paltz, spoke highly of a course called Media and Society. In this class, students learn how media such as television, radio and the Internet impact the world. The reason she enjoyed this class so much was because of Professor Jerry Persaud.

According to Persaud, he teaches in a way where students know exactly what is expected of them from day one. He said it’s not an old boring textbook in Persaud’s class; instead he makes the textbook come alive. Persaud frequently compares YouTube videos with the textbook. There is a lot of discussion and interactive participation, said Persaud.

An activity Persaud does in class is what he likes to call “re-readings.” This involves re-interpreting the text in fun ways. They re-read “The Three Little Pigs” in terms of capitalism and also watched a YouTube video on “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” that was about Mexicans instead of dogs.

“We just don’t read out of the textbook,” said Persaud. “We use the textbook to relate to society and events around us. Students like that.”

Persaud makes it known that students are human beings first. He is not just a professor to his students, but a colleague. He listens to feedback from his students and encourages it. It’s all about respect for Persaud.

“It is our class,” said Persaud. “Not my class.”

But there are other teachers at SUNY New Paltz who have received praise as well.

Professor Larry Carr is also highly regarded. Carolyn Quimby, a  creative writing major took Carr’s creative writing class.

“Professor Carr was the one professor who really made me realize I knew I wanted to be a creative writing major,” said Quimby.

Carr said she likes an active class. There are discussions, peer reviews, reading aloud, etc. He teaches about all aspects of writing. Carr wants students to become better writers because it will help them in the future.  Carr gives constructive criticism and will never destroy a piece of writing. He said he allows students to give feedback also.

“I try to create an atmosphere where students feel safe,” said Carr. “So that they can bring in their writing, show it and feel nurtured.”

These professors teach English. However, some students also recommend foreign language courses.

Shannon Pope, an undeclared second-year student, did just that. She enrolled in Elementary Spanish I with Professor Mary Stevens and really enjoyed the class.

Stevens does many activities with her class. She has her students act out new vocabulary and play Simon Says. She also has them act out encounters in Spanish that would happen in everyday life, according to  Stevens.

Stevens likes to incorporate the Spanish culture into her class, teaching things such as salsa dancing. This makes the students connect with the language. Stevens said she wants to give her students something worthwhile. She doesn’t teach the whole class in Spanish. Rather she sees what the class can understand so they don’t get intimidated, according to Stevens.

“Fear gets in the way of learning,” said Stevens. “I give them as much as they can handle while still feeling safe and comfortable.”