One heartfelt instructor can launch a multitude of students into successful careers
Daniel Munch knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life. “I’ve always felt a sense of servitude to society,” he says. That commitment of giving to others is why he joined the military, and a half dozen years later became a Business Office Administration program faculty member on SJVC’s Atascadero campus.
Those seeds of public service were watered by a college professor whose words he took to heart. “He explained how the passing on of knowledge is unlike anything else he could get in life,” says Daniel. “He had retired four times but missed the interaction with students, so he just kept coming back.”
Daniel developed his teaching style during his four years in the military where he trained new recruits on systems operations for satellite communications. It was a solid springboard from which he could build an effective style of instruction.
“Everyone learns at a different level,” Daniel offers. “Some need the repetition; some need the hands-on training and some people can just watch something be done once and know how to do it. You have to be skilled to meet each of those kinds of needs.”
When Daniel separated from the Army, his well-honed teaching techniques combined with his degrees in mathematics and liberal studies positioned him well for any future classroom he might lead.
He and his wife, Hailie had just moved to Atascadero and Daniel was considering how he might best put his education, teaching experience and need to positively impact the lives of others into action. He posted his resume online and within 15 minutes got a call from a representative from SJVC’s newest college located in Atascadero.
“The campus was in the process of filling faculty positions and rolling out the Business Office Administration (BOA) program,” says Daniel. He went in for an interview the very next day and received a job offer two days later. It felt right.
He spent the first few weeks absorbing the direction, culture and energy of the campus. “I got to shadow Alyssa (Perry, Campus President) and learned a lot,” says Daniel. “We worked on my in-class delivery, lesson plans and creating a syllabus.” Daniel was gratified to find such strong staff and faculty support at the college and lots of opportunity for growth and advancement.
Within a month Daniel was in front of a half dozen expectant students. “My first class was Business Math. I love numbers and have a degree in mathematics.” With just six students in this new BOA program, “I thought it was the perfect way to get my feet wet with teaching and the whole academic field.”
The BOA certificate program is broken down into five different modules that prepare students for a variety of business roles. The modules cover pillars of business practices and responsibilities that include accounting, marketing, customer service, business math and human resources. “In any business field you have to work your way up the ladder, and this education provides the know-how to get into the field,” says Daniel.
The Business Office Administration program prepares graduates to comfortably step into roles such as accounts payable/receivable, Human Resources Assistant, Marketing Assistant and other business operation roles. “Our graduates can go into all these fields right off the bat,” says Daniel.
Daniel wants his students to find him very approachable. “I don’t like to think of myself as being superior to students, although I do want them to respect me in the position I’m in. Approachability creates a better dialog between student and teacher.”
Building good communication skills was a top priority in Daniel’s classroom. “Every opportunity I have, I put the students in front of their classmates, engaging them with their audience. It some level of comfort to be in front of peers and friends, but still gives them the valuable experience of talking in front of a group.”
Public speaking is a common fear that can inhibit advancement in any business. “One can have all the skills in the world, but if you cannot communicate those skills, it doesn’t mean anything to have them,” says Daniel.
Daniel also brings some of his military discipline into the classroom to benefit his students. “I tell them if they’re on time, they’re late. Life happens, and if you just plan on showing up on time and something happens, you’re going to be late. If you plan on showing up early and something happens, you’ll have time to take of it and still be on time. So, they all show up 10-15 minutes early to class.”
“Daniel puts extraordinary care and effort into the success of his students,” says Barbara Holt, Campus Director. “He makes his lessons meaningful and accessible.”
Like his wise college professor, Daniel is out there planting and watering the seeds of success in others, never certain of a harvest. His first farm report came unexpectedly.
“First graduation, that’s when it really hit me,” he remembers. “My first glimpse of the contribution and impact I was actually having on all of these students’ lives. After the ceremony students were bringing their entire families over to meet me.” Gratitude is powerful confirmation.
Sometimes it happens when Daniel bumps into a graduate of his program in a store or restaurant. “They start telling me about a job they’re in and that they’ve accomplished what they set out to do when they enrolled. One of my students thanked me for believing in her when she didn’t believe in herself.”
Their feedback solidifies Daniel’s determination to touch those lives while he has the chance. “If I see them (students) start to struggle, I tell them, ‘You are a lot more capable than you think.’ “Helping them push through what they thought were their limits – and them finding out they were capable of a lot more. That’s the thing.”
Daniel knows first-hand what his professor kept leaving then coming back to savor. “I already don’t want to give it up.” He won’t have to walk away to feel its value. He carries it every day.
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