“One of the most rewarding moments in my career occurred when I was teaching Writing Skills,” recalls English Professor Dorothy Hollowell. “A student came to my class who couldn’t hear or talk, and had visual problems. I was given the task of getting him to the point where he could write an essay.” He entered the class only able to write a single sentence, and with difficulty.
“I accomplished that task in one semester and I realized if I could do that, I could teach anyone. He was so happy – I was so happy. It was wonderful.”
That was 23 years ago, but Dr. Hollowell still finds that every class reveals some new insight for her and her students. “Most of the stories and poems my classes read offer a slice of life that can be used philosophically to understand themselves and others in life. Literature helps us explore why we do the things that we do,” she says.
“Once I was talking about an essay related to gays in my class and one student confessed he was gay.” His classmates jumped into the conversation by discussing times when they experienced discrimination because of their beliefs, weight or ethnic appearance.
“He came to me after class and thanked me. This was the first class where he had the courage to make this type of comment without fear or ridicule. My class supported him and took a respectful approach.”
Another semester, she remembers having a student whose mother had died. “He wanted to drop everything, leave school and not continue. I took him aside, several times, and encouraged him to continue in honor of the sacrifices his mother had made.” He did, and eventually graduated.
Prior to coming to County College of Morris, Hollowell taught at the University of New Haven, Boston State College, Tufts University and Centenary College, where she was Teacher of the Year. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Tufts University, an M.A. in English from Atlanta University and a B.A. in Humanities from Lemoyne College. She also was a University Fellow at both Yale University and Harvard University.
“I love teaching and I love my students,” Hollowell says. “I want them to succeed and achieve their highest potential.”