Some teachers are born, and some teachers are made. Some people do not realize that they were made to teach until they have heard the wondrous stories about the joy an adventure that the profession of teaching brings. Dr. Kreassig, a professor here at Regent University, teaches in the Education department. Yet his love for teaching did not come until a college friend and his friend’s wife described the delightful stories that teaching brought to them.
I have had Dr. Kreassig many times as a professor, and each time I learn something new about teaching. Whether it be stories that he has had in the classroom, or a class discussion of what we have witnessed in the classroom, there is always something applicable to the class and overall major. That is why I am honored to feature Dr. Kreassig as this week’s teacher for the teacher spotlight. When I sat down with Dr. Kreassig, he relayed to me many facets of teaching and why he chose this profession.
Why did you become a teacher?
You know what’s funny is, I was a banker at one time. I was a banker for seven years. And the story goes, one of my good friends and his wife were both teachers. I was in banking and my wife was in marketing. We would get together and socialize with them, and one time we were at dinner and they started telling us about their weeks of teaching, about the fun experiences, the laughter, the joy that they had. My wife and I were looking at each other going, “Wow, I don’t get any of that from my job right now as a banker,” and she wasn’t getting it from marketing. We looked at each other and we said, wow — they were living the dream basically. We went home that night thinking, why can’t we do something like that?
We have always had deep inside that urge to teach, that love of a subject. I love science and so does my wife. We both became science teachers eventually. We decided we loved what they were talking about, their daily interactions, how they were able to work with the child, to help the child understand whatever the subject matter is, to give support to the child. It was very inspiring listening to them all the time. These were people we hung out with, and as we became closer and closer and my wife and I were listening to them all the time, we said, let’s give it a try. I think we would be good at it. It is something we always wanted to do, but never thought about the possibilities.
By the grace of God we had the ability to still work full time and go to school full time. So we went back to school for about two years to go through a teacher preparation program and graduated. I left banking and started teaching high school and my wife left marketing and started teaching science in middle school. That’s where the road began. You hear, “Can teachers be made or are they born?” I think both are correct. Some people from the get-go know what they want to do, some people don’t.
What is your favorite part about teaching?
It’s the relationships with those that you teach, understanding things about them and sharing all the time. It is not always about the subject matter. I want to know personally about the students; what are their likes, what are their dislikes? I want to know how they operate, what are their triggers?
And it is a joy I have to take my information and not necessarily translate it, but that translation from me to them with whatever subject matter that is and they start to understand it. They start to think alike and then question each other, and then ask more questions about the subject or about the process. That’s really where my joy comes from. It’s the interaction.
How has faith affected your classroom?
It affects every part of my classroom. It affects the way I approach every teaching incident, every interaction with another human being, everything I do from when I wake up. My faith basically guides my decision making process. I am very mindful, being that I teach others how to teach, that my faith guides what I say and guides my actions towards others.
What schools did you attend and what are your degrees in?
I was born and raised in this area and went to Princess Anne High School. Then I went to Longwood College and got a Business Degree. Then I went to Old Dominion and got a masters in Secondary Science Education. I went to George Washington University and got an Education Specialist Degree. Then, I went back to GW and got a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
Why did you want to teach science?
I think it was 4th grade when I got my first A+ on a report card, and it was in science. I never thought I had an aptitude for science. But it was that class, my teacher Mrs. Blunt took a huge interest in me and had me lead the class in many different science activities. From then on, I think she was the one who really helped hone my curiosity with classroom activities that I would lead. From then on, I was hooked on science.
It’s kind of funny, when I would go back and look at my old report cards, I may have a C or a B in another subject, but I had A’s in science all throughout my life. It was an indicator that I did well, I enjoyed science, and I had good teachers. It was a natural fit. I never thought about why I love science so much, but obviously, I excelled in it, if you go back and look at my report cards.
The part of science that I really like is the oceanography part. Not only because I live here by the oceanfront, but I surf, I fish, I boat, and I do everything in the water. But I spend so much time down there near the water that I have always been interested in what lives in the water, the currents, everything.
Why did you switch from secondary education to teaching at the college level?
When I was a building principal, I saw a lot of new teachers who would do a dynamite job in interviews, a dynamite job in the teaching preview, the teaching demonstration, but when they got in front of kids, they flopped. They were missing a certain skill set that we could not detect in interviews or a teaching demonstration. They did not have a classroom management skill set, they did not have the ethos to know that when they are working with a particular student, to keep their eyes on all of the students at the same time. I saw that over and over and over.
Part of that said, “What can I do to prepare these young people so that they will stay?” What happens is that if someone starts teaching and they do not know how to do it, or they don’t have the skill set, then they get frustrated and end up looking to do something else. Secondly, once I got into teaching I was a teacher.
And even as a principal, I would teach my teachers how to teach, or take them through professional development. So this was just a natural fit to come to higher education and help teachers acquire better skills and learn more about how to deal with certain situations in the classroom.
Do you have any advice for students?
One of those things we take for granted that all of us need to understand and appreciate is that effort equals success. We forget that effort is hard work. And even now when there’s students taking a math course and saying it is so hard . . . right, it is hard, but it takes effort to be successful. It is just like doing a devotion every day. It is purposeful effort. It is not just something is going to come in the afternoon and tap you on the shoulder saying, “You have to go do your devotion now.” You have to plan, and it is effort.