One of Pittsburg State University’s Dr. Robert K. Ratzlaff Outstanding Faculty Award recipients for 2016 has known he wanted to be a teacher since second grade, but the others discovered their passion for teaching later in life. The Outstanding Faculty Award recipients were announced at the university’s Apple Day celebration on March 3.

John Thompson, an assistant professor in the Department of Automotive Technology, is the third generation of teachers in his family.

“It was on my list as long as I can remember,” Thompson said. “When I was in second grade and my teacher asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I said ‘I want to be a teacher.’”

Clark Shaver, an associate professor of electronics engineering technology, came to teaching from the world of business.

“I never planned to teach,” said Shaver, who was also a Boy Scout leader. “I really enjoyed teaching the young men and I thought, if I could do something like this full-time, that would be awesome.”

Xiaolu Wu hadn’t planned on teaching, either. She came to the U.S. from China in 2001 to earn her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Illinois in Chicago.

“After I got my degree, I realized I really enjoyed the interaction with people,” Wu said, “so I first found a job at a local community college. That experience reinforced what I felt about myself – that what I should do is teaching.”
Thompson summed up all three of this year’s honorees’ thoughts about teaching.

“I get the incredible journey of teaching stuff that I love, that I’m super passionate about,” Thompson said. “I love it! And then I get to meet students. It’s just a great, great career and very rewarding.”

John Thompson, Xiaolu Wu and Clark Shaver are recipients of the 2016
Pittsburg State University Dr. Robert K. Ratzlaff Outstanding Faculty Award.