My Favorite Teacher Who Inspired Me Nothing Is Beyond My Reach

There are so many incredible and inspiring professors out there who have the ability to change the lives of their students and ignite a love of learning in them.

My Favorite Teacher Who Inspired Me Nothing Is Beyond My Reach
Photo by Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

One such teacher who inspired me to love learning and who fundamentally changed my life is Dr. Mary Harwards.

This article is dedicated to Dr. Mary Harwards. You may follow her on LinkedIn by clicking here and viewing her profile on the Nova Southeastern University website.

The Gold Standard of Teaching

Have you ever had a teacher who was so cruel, disrespectful, and harsh to you? had no desire to educate you? Didn’t give a damn about learning?

We've all had these kinds of awful professors at some point in our lives, and in some ways, we hold ourselves responsible for our failure to grasp the material or complete the course.

Believe it or not, after going through these negative experiences, finding a teacher who is actually motivating, optimistic, and genuinely caring about your learning experience is in and of itself a godsend and a life-changing experience.

These teachers come just once in a lifetime, and you get to experience the Gold Standard of Education.

I've been fortunate to have one teacher who transformed the way I think about education.

  • She placed a strong emphasis on PRACTICING and LEARNING rather than grades, midterms, or finals.
  • What really mattered to her was that we retained the information and understood it.
  • Every student benefits from her optimism, confidence, and guidance as they master things that initially appear challenging.
  • She believes that making complex subjects simple and reducing them to their core concepts can help students in understanding and mastering them.

I will always be grateful to my professor, Dr. Mary Harwards. She has a doctorate in information systems as well as a master's degree in management information systems. She has held positions as managing director of business processes and strategic initiatives, director of programming and operations, and director of business and academic solutions. Throughout the course of her more than 23 years at Nova Southeastern University, she spearheaded a number of incredible initiatives to help students.

She was the first lecturer I had at Nova who taught me SQL, and I was privileged to have her as my instructor for Ethics in Computing later on.

These three characteristics make her stand out among the other teachers. I think that any educator—whether a manager, a mentor, or a student—should incorporate learning into their daily life.

#1 - Focus on Practice and Key Objectives for Learning

In my early college years, I repeatedly failed or dropped out of programming classes because I was unable to comprehend the material. The teacher moved quickly from a basic to an advanced level, and in my perspective, I was at fault for giving up and failing to learn. However, everything changed when I enrolled in Professor Harward's database course.

She encourages understanding the principles first, then putting them into practice with different use cases.

I started learning SQL after working on practicing the code since I am particularly hands-on. Before I took this class with my professor, I used to think it was challenging and beat myself up for not mastering it. For those of us who attended the sessions, she fundamentally changed the educational experience.

It was difficult to resist Professor Harward's infectious positivity and contagious charisma. 

Through her clear explanations, she made SQL code come alive, and her discussion posts inspired and motivated me.

I was genuinely fascinated by the way she taught, and I began looking forward to going to her class each week.

She eliminated any complication and simplified the learning strategy so that students only concentrate on understanding the core ideas.

For instance, she advised utilizing the online interface version of SQL, which just focuses on practice, rather than downloading and installing the actual software program.

#2 - Focus on Guidance rather than criticizing

The way you speak and write while providing constructive feedback is extremely important in the classroom. Students want to listen to the teacher without feeling discouraged, while the teacher wants to correct their mistakes so they can learn.

During her lesson, I observed and experienced that she would point out the mistakes but do so in a way that was quite pleasant and got the message across.

In my first research project, for instance, I made up the APA style since I had forgotten how it works.  She was aware of the serious error I had made, yet what she did was unbelievable.  She pointed out what was incorrect but did not take away any points (after all, we learn from our mistakes in life - she was more concerned with students' learning than marks in a class). She stood out from every other teacher I've had because of the constructive feedback that she provided, which encouraged them to strive for excellence.

She stated: "Please find my APA notes within the paper MEANT TO GUIDE YOU!"

#3 - Focus on Inspiring and serving as a positive role model

She is always ready to mentor students, cares that we have all absorbed the information, and wants us to use it. She sets high expectations and challenges students to reach their full potential by serving as a positive role model, demonstrating how things are done, encouraging and overlooking mistakes, and focusing on inspiring them to learn.

While most professors would rather focus on lowering points from our grades, she encourages us to work hard and make an effort in order to gain bonus points.

Her comments inspire people.

In reality, an extra 0.02 points won't have much of an impact on your grades, but it will raise your level of motivation and encourage you to always go above and beyond.

Here are a few of her comments on my posts and assignments, where I received additional credit, which made me delighted and encouraged me to keep learning.  

These small details matter and have a big influence on students. I hope that these teaching principles are adopted by all educators.

I find it difficult to put these feelings into words, but I am thankful and honored to be in Professor Mary's class. Her teachings had an enormous impact on my life, and I discovered that nothing is impossible to learn if we put in the effort and time required.

As she once told me, practice makes perfect. Learning fundamental concepts is more crucial than doing well on your midterms, finals, and grades.

She has received the highest rating of 5 stars on the ratemyprofessor website thanks to her continuous enthusiasm, which has transformed the lives of many students.  

Mary Harward at Nova Southeastern University | Rate My Professors
Mary Harward is a professor in the Computer Science department at Nova Southeastern University - see what their students are saying about them or leave a rating yourself.
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Dr. Mary changed my life in a profound way that I never imagined how learning could be. She not only helped me develop a love of learning, but also instilled in me a sense of confidence and self-belief that I had never had before.

I'm now a successful project manager, programmer, and writer. I owe Dr. Mary credit for motivating me to achieve my goals. I could write a whole book about what she taught me and how she influenced me.

If you're lucky enough to have a teacher like her, cherish their mentorship and guidance… let them know how much they mean to you.

That's all for this week :)

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