Professor Follows His Curiosity to Create a Career of Teaching
“Varied” would be a good word to describe the career path of Dr. Michael Paul, chair and associate professor of the Department of Health and Exercise Science.
“When I was in high school, I wanted to be an engineer,” he says. He started in engineering at Rutgers and then switched his major to history with a minor in physical education. Following graduation, he taught for 15 years in elementary school, managed a health club, coached athletes and worked in cardiac rehabilitation. While working, he earned his master’s degree in physical education from East Stroudsburg University, and then completed a doctorate from the University of Toledo.
Discovering What Works Best
“I was always fascinated that certain types of training worked better for some people and not others,” says Paul. Exercise science offered him insights into the answers.
In 1993, while teaching elementary school in Stockton, he joined County College of Morris (CCM) as an adjunct professor and taught Lifetime Wellness for 16 years. He became a full-time faculty member in 2008.
As someone in an academic leadership position, he believes mentorship is very important. “I spend a lot of time with the new people I hire,” he says. “I want to have a good program. Some of the adjuncts could have been full time but decided, instead, to go back to school for doctorates, and I am proud of them. We have a close cohesive group in our department and that’s very critical.”
Making a Difference for Students
He likes to keep in touch with students after they leave his program. He recalls one student, who had a particularly difficult time making it through his program, but he and a CCM vice president supported the student’s efforts and he eventually graduated.
“Recently, the vice president called me,” says Paul. “She said the student we helped was graduating with his bachelor’s degree and wanted us both to be at his graduation. Events like that are incredibly rewarding."
He adds, “Students may have issues, but I find if you take the time to communicate with them you can make a big difference. That’s the only way you can become a good teacher and a good person.”