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  • RichMildenbergerLarge

Rich Mildenberger

  • Program: Instructor, Computer Information Technology

    Education/Industry Certifications: Bachelor of Arts degree, Hofstra University (New York); Associate of Applied Science degree and Diploma, Southeast Community College.

    Has taught at SCC since: 1989

    Years of work experience outside SCC:

    Describe your teaching philosophy.
    My teaching style has changed over the years. I teach a number of different programming and Web development courses. Early on I was focused on learning the coursework, developing lectures and presenting the material to the students. I discussed programming concepts, provided sample code and spiced it with enthusiasm and humor to keep people interested. Students worked along with me as I explained what they needed to know. Today, the learning process has become a partnership between instructor and student. I see my role as more of a coach than a teacher. I am prepared for each day, and I expect the student to be prepared as well. While information in a lecture format may still be needed early on, as each quarter progresses, students are asked to become more engaged in searching out answers to programming problems that I present. The results may not be what I anticipated, but it's a more interesting and productive learning environment (and everyone still laughs at my bad puns).

    Why did you decide to teach at a community college?
    I had been teaching as an adjunct on and off for 10 years when a long-time instructor retired. I had always enjoyed working with the students and staff, so it was not hard to decide to apply. The position has really given me an opportunity to continue to learn about my field, as well as teach. 

    What can prospective students expect when they enroll in your program?
    A new student can expect a dedicated staff and lots of support and encouragement, along with a well-designed curriculum that can set the student on the path to a career in IT.

    What experiences outside of SCC do you bring to the classroom/lab that enhance student learning?
    I worked full-time for many years in the developmental disabilities field. While not related knowledge-wise, there was a heavy emphasis on building lesson plans for each individual. I think that has helped me in working with individual students, particularly those who struggle.

    What advice do you have for students pursuing a degree in your program?
    Find a way to develop a relationship with your instructors. Ask questions, show interest in class, seek help when needed. From my own perspective as a programming instructor, I like to hear about any special projects that students work on outside of our coursework. 

    What do you enjoy most about working with students?
    Computer programming requires logical thinking, the ability to understand abstract design concepts and lots of hands-on practice. It takes some time to become proficient, but I really enjoy it when the light bulb goes on for a student. The programming process becomes fun rather than a chore.

    What is the best part about being an SCC faculty member?
    The support I receive from the CIT staff, as well as the students. It is fun to come to work every day.

    What has been your proudest moment as an instructor?
    There really is no one moment I can identify, but I feel best when I get a thank you from a student who has landed a job. That's the bottom line for our program.

    What do you like to do when not teaching?
    I enjoy hanging out with my wife Alice. We are big baseball fans and have attended games all over the country. We also attend Husker women's basketball games. 

    What would students be surprised to know about you?
    I was born in Queens and grew up on Long Island (New York). My wife grew up in Pennsylvania and Florida. We met in Grand Island and have been enjoying the good life here for almost 40 years.