By Ala Kaymaram
Amy Decormier, a professor at WCC since 2002, teaches introductory chemistry (CHEM 101) and general chemistry (CHEM11).
Q: How did you get interested in chemistry?
A: When I was in high school, I loved chemistry. When I was in college, I loved chemistry and engineering, so I studied Chemical Engineering. It worked out very well. I have always enjoyed it ever since.
Q: Did you always want to be a teacher?
A: In college I tutored a lot. I tutored my friends on courses we were taking. After college, I was working for two years as a chemical engineer at International Paper in Texas. I had to be on the production site a lot, and I was working a lot of hours. I realized that if I wanted to be a
mother, I would not be able to work full time. I had a master’s degree, and I
actually wanted to get a PhD, and perhaps teach chemical engineering at a university. After about a year and a half, I realized I didn’t really want a PhD and I wanted to have kids. So I decided to leave after my master’s degree and teach at a community college. I moved up here again and started to teach right away. I always loved teaching.
Q: Can you talk about your background a little bit. Are you originally from Michigan?
A: Yes, I was born and raised in Clinton, Michigan, where my kids are actually going to school. For my undergraduate, I went to Michigan State University. I lived in Texas for four years. My masters
degree is from Texas A&M in Chemical Engineering.
Q: When you were growing up and later in college, did you have any teachers or professors who inspired you, guided you or made an impact on you?
A: My high school math and science teacher in the last two years of high school was my biggest mentor. He taught my chemistry,
physics, trigonometry, and calculus. He did a very good job showing me how to do things. We had small classes. We had about twenty people in each class.
Q: Have you taught at
other colleges or universities
A: Yes, I taught at Owens Community College in Toledo and I taught at the satellite site of Jackson Community College in Adrian. I’ve taught
chemistry and a lot of Math, Algebra I and II. My favorite math subjects are trigonometry and precalculus courses.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: The favorite part of my job is to discover that students love chemistry as I do. I always get a couple of those. The best thing I could hear from students is, “Oh, I get it now.” It’s fantastic to hear that! Because I know how rewarding it is to put a lot of effort in understanding things and finally to understand them.
Q: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a teacher?
A: Allowing myself to watch students struggle learning. I am a helpful person, so at the beginning, I was helping them too much and I was doing their job for them. Later, I learned that I couldn’t do it for them. It’s hard to watch them struggle, but they would not learn unless they put in the effort. I give them a baseline to understand, then they have to make effort and struggle to get to the other side.