News & Features
OPTIONS Faculty Members Balance Career, Teaching, Family
Jennifer Byerly, an instructor and curriculum designer for Fontbonne University’s College of Global Business & Professional Studies has 18 years of experience in business strategy, finance, operations and project management. She received the 2010 OPTIONS Outstanding Faculty award, presented to two adjunct faculty members for their contributions to the college’s business programs and curriculum, involvement with the university, and exceptional student evaluations.
Byerly, who teaches economics and strategic planning courses to OPTIONS adult learners, believes teaching is one of the best ways to learn and she clearly loves to do both. “Teaching is a symbiotic relationship,” Byerly said. “I take the time to get to know my students and learn about their interests. I then continuously challenge myself to tailor the material in ways that are meaningful to them.”
One way she accomplishes this is by incorporating topical business issues into her courses. Byerly mentioned her students gain satisfaction from the realization that what they are learning has practical applications in the real world. Byerly also makes the effort to adapt her teaching to a variety of learning styles so individuals can develop confidence to master the course content. Learn more about our accelerated business programs.
Frequently, students come into her quantitative courses intimidated by the subject matter. But Byerly asks the students to have an open mind for the course material and is able to immediately relate the material on a personal level to their current situations and future goals. Byerly commented, “It’s a powerful combination. Students start to view the course as a script for their future, rather than just as a class for their degree program.”
On a different level, balancing a career and family life, which includes two young children, also helps her connect to her students and the challenges they face when pursuing a degree.
Nanette Swarthout, a senior instructor for Fontbonne University’s College of Global Business & Professional Studies received the 2010 OPTIONS Outstanding Faculty award. Recognition is presented to two adjunct faculty members for their contributions to the college’s business programs and curriculum, involvement with the university, and exceptional student evaluations.
An educational and business standards consultant with more than 20 years of corporate accomplishments as a manager and director, Swarthout has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in management and human resources to Fontbonne OPTIONS adult learners for more than 10 years.
Swarthout professes her love of teaching and the importance of continuous learning. “I’m fortunate to be part of a process where I help my students learn by teaching the concepts and how they apply to what they’re doing in the professional world,” Swarthout said. “I’m also learning from my students and the experiences they share in the classroom.”
She pursued her undergraduate degree right out of high school. But when Swarthout decided it was time to earn her MBA, she was a director for a major airline and had a demanding, full-time job which included frequent travel.
Part of her ability to relate so well with her students comes from this background. She noted, “I think that being able to take what we learn in class and apply it on the job works better for us as adults. As an instructor, you really have to have a practical frame of reference.”
Swarthout acknowledges that it’s not easy returning to school as a non-traditional student. The first steps are the hardest and require the most pushing. She also recommends, “Be sure to schedule study time and ‘you’ time to get the most out of it – because you really do deserve this experience.”
Motivating students to always do more is her biggest takeaway. Swarthout challenges them to go beyond what they learn in the classroom to discover how other companies apply those same concepts.
“I really push my students to read as much as they can. Education is a continuous process and adult learners seem to understand this.”