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Retiring: Professors speak to their time at PLNU

Coming into the end of the year, there are some faculty members who will be retiring, leaving their mark on PLNU. Here’s how they got here and what they take away after their time here.
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Art Wilmore

Art Wilmore started working at PLNU in 2002. He has taught courses in the kinesiology department along with a freshman PSY101 class. Even though he is a professor, he is more commonly known as a coach. Wilmore coached men’s basketball to begin with, then spent four years with the men and women’s tennis teams coaching alongside Rich Hills. Most recently, Wilmore worked with Coach Jacqui McSorley and the women’s golf program. From teaching to coaching, Wilmore has enjoyed his name here but has chosen to retire.

The Point: What were you doing before PLNU?
Art Wilmore: I was across the way at San Diego Christian. At that time it was called Christian Heritage College. I spend eight years there teaching and coaching.

What brought you to PLNU?
It was a difficult move for me from Christian Heritage, but in talking to some people, especially my pastor Ray Bentley at Maranatha Church, it [PLNU] seemed like it would be a good fit for me and it has been for sure.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at PLNU?
We’ve always gone on mission trips with our athletes. A lot of the times athletes are very spoiled and feel their sport is all they owe to the university. I’m not saying that’s always the case, but it was just that kind of setting. So I wanted people to learn how to give.

So I began taking people to Hoop Heaven in New York and we would work with about 110 kids for a week from the inner city. We gave these kids a week of basketball and the Lord. Many came to know Christ as a result. So I did the same thing at Point Loma. We went to Mexicali; we went to Hoop Heaven. So then I thought, why not have Hoop Heaven right here in San Diego? So we started a program called Super Fest and we were able to attract some professional players. This attracted a lot of families. Doing this is probably my best memory.

Why did you decide to retire?
It’s just that time. Age and spending more time with my wife, spending more time with doing some things the Lord may have for me elsewhere. It was a great situation for me.

What are you going to miss most about working here?
I think the coaching staff, the teaching staff. Teachers and mentors to me are all over the place. Jim Johnson, John Wu, Daniel Jenkins, Carroll Land. Our coaching staff is second to none. Our coaches would meet on Monday, about 10 of us, for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Bible Study. I’ll miss LoveWorks as well.

What are your plans after retirement?
Well my wife and I like to travel together, we like to walk together, we like to exercise together. We like to go to Cabo San Lucas. [We have] a timeshare that we invested in 18 years ago. It’s a great place to get away and do absolutely nothing. No cell phones, no homework, nothing that would distract us from having a good relationship together. We hang out at the beach, hang out at the swimming pool drinking Pepsi-Colas and having chips and dip – got to have to guacamole as well. I also want to try and get down my Spanish so I can start speaking the language more fluently.

 

carolelighty0912

Carol Leighty

Carol Leighty was invited to teach as an adjunct at PLNU 20 years ago. She has worked part-time for the past five years and for one year she was the interim dean of the School of Education. Leighty taught in the Educational Leadership program and courses pertaining to vision and ethics at the PLNU graduate school. She is currently teaching a philosophy course for her first time. After many years of working at PLNU, Leighty has chosen to retire.

The Point: What were you doing before PLNU?
Carol Leighty: I was in public education for 40 years starting as an elementary school teacher and completing my career as the superintendent of the Temecula Valley Unified School District.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at PLNU?
My colleagues and the students.

Why did you decide to retire?
It’s time and I want to spend more time with my husband and grandchildren.

What are you going to miss most about working here?
The people and the stimulation of ideas and energy.

What are you plans for after retirement?
Spending more time with my husband and grandchildren, traveling, gardening and reading. I am also getting out the sewing machine and making clothes for my granddaughter.

 

Laura Amstead

Laura Kelley Amstead

After 17 years, Laura Amstead, a faculty member in the school of education at the PLNU graduate program, is retiring. Professor Amstead taught courses for aspiring teachers like Foundations on Education and Learning Theory and Methods of Reading and Writing. She is currently teaching Advanced Literacy Assessment Instruction and Intervention for all students. She responded via email to the Point about her time here.

The Point: What were you doing before PLNU?
Laura Kelly Amstead: I worked as a teacher, mentor and administrator in Saddleback Valley Unified School District in Orange County, California.

What brought you to PLNU?
After completing my doctorate in 1994, I wanted to influence the preparation and training of teachers. As a graduate of Pasadena College (now PLNU), I most wanted to work where I was trained.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at PLNU?
Just recently I had the privilege to be the queen at the madrigal dinner. The music and atmosphere were a wonderful reminder of the talented students and faculty at PLNU.

Why did you decide to retire?
My husband is a former high school history teacher and volleyball coach who has been retired for 10 years. He would like for us to do more traveling together.

What are you going to miss most about working here?
I will miss my students and, of course, my colleagues.

What are your plans after retirement?
This summer my husband and I will travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend the college graduation of our oldest grandson from Calvin College. Then we plan to visit Mackinac Island (an island in Lake Michigan) and stay at the Grand Hotel, where the movie “Somewhere in Time” was filmed. This is to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.

 

Alumni Award 2013

Kathy McConnell

Kathy McConnell began working at PLNU in 1978. She taught in the LJML department until 2010 when she became the interim dean of arts and sciences. McConnell has continued to be the dean for the past five years. During her time in the LJML department, she taught Spanish, literature, film and culture. After 37 years of working at PLNU, McConnell has decided to retire. She responded via email about what PLNU has meant to her.

The Point: What were you doing before PLNU?
Kathy McConnell: I taught at Eastern Nazarene College for five years before coming to PLNU.

The Point: What brought you to PLNU?
My husband had just finished his Ph.D. at Tufts University (Boston) and was offered a position in biology and chemistry. I came as an adjunct and that position very quickly turned into a full time position in Spanish.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at PLNU?
All of my best memories are connected with my time spent in the classroom. Teaching language is an incredible challenge, so when a student finally understood what I was saying in Spanish, I always felt a great sense of satisfaction. Many alumni have told me that knowing Spanish in a job setting has been of great benefit to them.

Why did you decide to retire?
After 42 years in higher education, it was time to reinvent myself and move on.

What are you going to miss most about working here?
I will miss my colleagues and the students. I have always felt supported in whatever I have done here. It is a unique community.

What are your plans after retirement?
I plan to travel, do volunteer work and spend more time with my family.

connie fish

 

Connie Fish

Connie Fish has worked at PLNU for 15 years as an adjunct and a part-time faculty member. Fish worked at the PLNU graduate program teaching aspiring teacher and administrator classes. She also supervised student teachers and coached administrators. After all her years of hard work, she has decided to retire.

The Point: What were you doing before PLNU?
Connie Fish: I was in K-12 education as a teacher and administrator and thought I retired 10 years ago, but PLNU had other ideas.

What brought you to PLNU?
I was invited to teach in the Educational Leadership program. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to help build capable, inspired, committed school administrators.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at PLNU?
Seeing aspiring administrators believe in themselves and their ability to make a difference in the lives of students and teachers.

Why did you decide to retire?
I want to spend more time with my husband, my grandchildren and their parents, travel, do what I want to do, sew, volunteer, etc.

What are you going to miss most about working here?
I will miss working with some amazing, committed and creative individuals and I will miss the view on the main campus.

 

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