Some would say that the greatest difference between community college and established four year colleges is not the quality of the education but the mere size of a class.
For Joseph Perret, professor of computer applications and office technologies, this is also one of the greatest advantages of attending a community college and the reason why he tried to convince each of his three children to go to Pierce.
“It’s important for students to build a connection with their teachers, if students connect with their piers and their teachers their chances of success go up,” Perret said. “You can’t do that in a class of 500 where the teacher can’t even remember your name let alone your face.”
Small class sizes and more time is way he claims he’d much rather be teaching at Pierce. No research or publishing responsibilities, just teaching.
” I like students, I love what I do, this is the best job in the world,” Perret said. “I get to do nothing but teach.”
But according to Perret it’s not enough just to provide instruction on class curriculum and in the 12 years that Perret has been teaching, his enthusiasm hasn’t wavered.
“I’m always searching for ways to reach out and be better for my students,” Perret said.
That’s why three years ago, in an attempt to build bonds with his students, Perret started doing something he calls “Coffee with the Prof,” an open weekly group meeting for who ever is interested at the Freudian Sip.
“When you feel that the person who’s teaching you cares, there’s a trust that makes you invest more in the class,” said Perret.
He claims that the casual setting at the Freudian Sip makes it easier for students to express concerns, ask questions or just hang.
Perret still holds office hours because they are required by law to but he feels they’re useless and a time that is rarely capitalized on by students.
“Nobody ever shows up to my office hours unless they’re in deep doo-doo, and by that time it’s usually too late,” Perret said.
“Coffee with the Prof” is Perret’s way of opening the door to building connections with his students and he’s found it to be very rewarding.
“The success rate is the secondary affect. The first is that the student bonds so that he or she feels some responsibility to succeed,” said Perret.
All of Perret’s classes are paperless. All assignments are done online through Moodle. He posts his notes, holds online chat meetings, and even opened a help question board so that students wouldn’t have to wait to ask questions.
Matthew Maggel, 26, doesn’t go to the “Coffee with the Prof” sessions because it’s too early, but finds Perret to be very accessible.
“Whenever you have questions he’s always willing to help,” said Maggel.
For Perret, it’s very simple, teaching is personal.
“You can’t connect with everybody,” said Perret. “But it personally pains me when a student doesn’t succeed. When they get an F I get an F.”