Tina Ross did “a little bit of everything” after earning her bachelor’s degree in communications from North Dakota State. She was in human resources for a while, worked as an assistant ticket manager for the Fargo minor league baseball team (Go, RedHawks!), and did some speech coaching, too. But she found both her niche and her calling as a teacher.
“When I have to describe myself, I always put ‘teacher’ at the top,” she said. “That’s the core to my identity more than anything. That’s what I hope people will remember about me … that [I] was a good teacher.”
She certainly is, and if any proof was needed, it arrived last fall when she received the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching for TCC Northwest. “She’s a rock star,” said her dean, Lisa Benedetti, “Tina has a flair for creating supportive learning environments for her students. She takes every opportunity to hone her knowledge and her skills in the classroom.”
Like many TCC faculty, Ross watched the announcement of the winners of the Chancellor’s Award on her office computer, since the all-employee fall gathering vanished with the pandemic. When she heard her name called, Ross thought it was “kind of weird because it was online. I think when I stepped out of my office and all the people on our hall were clapping, that’s when I thought, ‘OK, all right. It’s legit.'”
Ross made the trek from North Dakota to TCC at the urging of Zach Frohlich, a former student and fellow graduate student at the University of North Dakota who formerly served as a Speech faculty member at Northwest. “He kind of recruited me to come down,” she said. “So, I said ‘Sure, let’s go for it.”
Asked to step back from herself and speculate as to how she was picked for the award, she highlighted activities both inside and outside the classroom. “I think people would say, ‘She works a lot. She’s efficient, is a department chair, has served on a lot of committees and is always trying new teaching techniques, sharing ideas with colleagues and taking ideas from them, too.”
Ross also credited her work on the Guided Pathways project that afforded her the opportunity to know people across the District, working with both faculty and staff from various campuses. “I don’t know,” she summed up her introspection. “I guess somebody believed in me.”
She hopes that includes her students. “I would like for them to say that I was encouraging and patient,” she said. “I try to keep it fun. I’m not the funniest person in the world, but I try to incorporate things to get them talking to each other.”
Her own student days are not over. She was deep into a doctoral program in North Dakota when she headed south to Texas and now has her sights on a doctorate from the University of North Texas. Even though she still has a year of coursework remaining, she’s already chosen — and gotten approved — a study of faculty tenure at Texas community colleges.
She hopes her students will become skilled speakers and communicators, but at the top of her to-do list for each class is personal growth. “Where you are from when you come into the class should not be the same as when you leave, right?” she said. “You should see progress and growth, learning about yourself along the way.”