Larry Podolsky nominated Michele Monlux for Class Acts. Podolsky said Monlux makes a difficult class interesting and relevant to her students. Her energy is only second to her expertise.
Name: Michele Monlux
Occupation: Teaches anatomy and physiology at Modesto Junior College
Family: Husband, Ken; sons, Max, 20, and Monty, 15
Background: Lived 45 years in the Bay Area, graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, moved to Oakdale in 2000
Teaching experience: Twenty years teaching at a few colleges and a junior high school in the Bay Area; she has been teaching at MJC for the last seven years
Why did you get into teaching? I was a research chemist for a while after I graduated from Cal the first time. I missed the whole school environment and the summers off.
What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? I love it when I really make a connection with a student and they get excited about their learning and their own ability to learn.
What is the most challenging part of your job? I am fortunate to have many motivated students, with the majority of them wanting to be nurses. My challenge is to try to present detailed scientific information in the most understandable fashion possible.
Favorite teaching tool or activity in the classroom: I love the lab. MJC has more anatomical models than most colleges. It is great when the students get to hold brain models or dissect pig hearts. It really helps to touch a model instead of just hearing or reading about an organ or concept. I also play classical music in the lab, which is great for learning.
What's next in your classroom? The plan is for new and expanded classrooms and labs on the west campus in the next three to four years, thanks to Measure E and the community.
Advice for new teachers: Ask questions. I have found my colleagues to be wonderfully helpful when I am confused about a subject or when I want to find out about their teaching strategies.
Advice for students: Ask questions. I remind my students that because they don't know, I have a job. The worst thing a student can do is to feel like they will be judged for not knowing. Of course, on the day of the exam, they do get to show me what they know.
Advice for parents: Remember that our children come preprogrammed; all we can do is love them and try to guide them.
Future plans: I want to get involved with the student-to-student ambassador program, which travels with students to all seven continents.
How do you reach students not interested in school? I keep my enthusiasm high and hope that it will be contagious. I try to present the material in many different ways to try to reach all learning styles.
What would surprise people about your job? I see dead people! We are so fortunate at MJC to have cadavers, people who have donated their bodies to science. They also might be surprised that I didn't like science until I was in college and had amazing teachers who opened up a whole new world to me.
What did you do on your summer vacation? I played a lot of tennis, sailed with my husband, went on daily walks, swam and knitted with my friends. I enjoyed my life with my family and my animals: dogs, donkeys, horses and llamas.
COMPILED BY JILLIAN HANKS,
BEE NEWSROOM ASSISTANT