Being a proficient reader and writer using the English language is more often than not a prerequisite for many college students entering the workforce. It’s the task of English professors to evaluate and prepare students of all different levels of English mastery to, in the end, read and write at a collegiate level. For Denise Engler, not only does this mean teaching, but acting as a one-woman human resource department of sorts for the English department at American River College in Sacramento. Her challenge is to make sure that curriculum and staff are teaching at a certain level of excellence. Based on her interview, Engler’s passion for her work shines through her thoughtful answers. Not content with doing the bare minimum, Engler continues to wear more than one hat on top of already being a professor of English at American River College.

(Photo Courtesy of Denise Engler)

(Photo Courtesy of Denise Engler)

What does your job entail?

“Teaching students English reading and writing skills: literacy, composition, reading strategies, literature, speed reading, creating course curriculum. Administrative tasks: hiring and assessing faculty, aligning courses with other campuses, writing letters of recommendation for students, and I get to be co-chair of the English department starting in Fall 2015, so being a liaison between the faculty and department, school, and district administration.”

What parts of your job do you enjoy?

“All of it! I love students. In college, they are at a very exciting time in their lives with a lot of know-how already under their belts, and a world of possibilities in their future. They are funny, real, and usually passionate. They inspire me constantly and make me enjoy coming to school every day.”

What was your education history?

“[I have a] B.A. in English, M.A. in English literature, and certificate in teaching college reading.”

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to pursue a similar career?

“Tutor and student-teach as much as possible before you actually start teaching on your own. You pick up many great habits and tips that way. Talk to veteran teachers a lot about what they do and what the current trends in teaching are. For example, when I was trying to get a full-time teaching job 10 years ago, it was important to know what to focus on in interviews and in my own preparation. I asked a veteran teacher I admired, and he told me three areas that were important at that time: English as second language speakers, technology, and developmental English for students who were not quite ready for college-level writing classes, but were in college. So, I spent time learning about those areas and getting experience in them. Later, integrated reading and writing became a large focus in education, so I added that to the mix and got a certificate in teaching college reading. These emphases helped me to be prepared, so I was able to get the job I wanted.”

Paulo Acoba is a California native raised in the Bay Area and living in the Central Valley. He enjoys distance running, cycling and grassroots motorsports. He holds a degree in management from the University of California Merced. Paulo has been writing for since 2012 and covering the Fresno area.