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MCCC Faculty Linda and Chris Gaylo Make Science Learning Their Goal at James Kerney Campus

7/29/11


West Windsor, N.J. -- Science faculty member Linda Gaylo has taught at Mercer County Community College for 18 years, the first 10 as an adjunct instructor, then as a teaching assistant. For the last four, Gaylo has been a full-time faculty member at MCCC's James Kerney Campus in downtown Trenton. She also enlisted her husband, engineering consultant Christopher Gaylo, to join her there as an adjunct instructor. Both say they have gotten as much from their teaching experience as the students they have taught.

The James Kerney Campus showed its appreciation to the Gaylos, of West Windsor, by recognizing them at the JKC Celebration of Achievement Night at the Trenton War Memorial in May. The Gaylos say they were pleasantly surprised with the formal show of appreciation. Says JKC Provost Monica Weaver, "The staff and I consider Linda and Chris to be a truly invaluable asset. Their academic contributions make a huge difference to the broader Trenton community."

According to Linda, there is a different vibe at the Kerney campus than at the far larger West Windsor campus. "It's a more intimate environment. Classes are small," she says. "There is much more opportunity for contact with students."

Gaylo, who teaches Chemistry, Anatomy 1 and 2, and Biology Concepts, notes that her office is located right off the Richardson Learning Center, the hub of the campus. "I am very accessible and I like it. At any point in the day, students can always find me."

She notes that her students come from varied backgrounds and span all ages, from those entering college directly from high school to many who have been out of school for years, including state workers. Yet, they are all similarly focused on college as a gateway to a better future.

"Being in the city, these students don't have easy access to the West Windsor campus and are very appreciative of being able to take courses close to home," Gaylo explains. "We have expanded the number of science classes we offer there and students like that."

Following his day job in engineering, Chris Gaylo teaches Concepts of Physical Science at JKC in the evenings and is also involved with Mercer's Upward Bound high school enrichment program.

"It's a personal challenge to revisit this material and to be able to convey concepts in a way that students can understand," he says. Generally he is teaching non-science majors, "those who traditionally shy away from the subject. Sometimes they are apprehensive coming in. This is especially true for adults who haven't studied science or technology in many years. I strive to engage them."

In the lab with MCCC science faculty Linda and Chris Gaylo

Linda and Chris Gaylo are recognized at JKC's Celebration of Achievement awards night. They are pictured with President Patricia C. Donohue.
 

Chris says he integrates interactive labs, video clips, and real world examples into his classes. "Often it starts with a few students who join in and then others become more involved. I offer bonus points if someone points out a technical error. They find that great sport and it keeps them paying attention."

As a part-time night student himself when he pursued his master's degree many years ago, Chris knows what it's like for adults who work during the day, have families and are striving to do their best in college. "Students are really eager to learn. They are making a real commitment to getting their degrees."

Linda adds that some students face major obstacles, but still find a way to make it to class. "It's very rewarding," she agrees.

Linda and Chris note that their overlapping subject matter is a win-win for them and their students. "If I am having trouble getting a point across, I will brainstorm with Linda," Chris says. "The challenge is to rethink a complicated concept that is simple for me. We try things out on each other."

Chris says that teaching at the Kerney campus has added depth to his life and broadened his perspective. Adds Linda, "It's been terrific teaching at JKC, where students are eager to learn and see college as the way they are going to advance in their careers and their lives. We try to make a difference for them."

Linda observes that without the community college, some people simply would not be able to further their education. "JKC does it all - helping students earn their GEDs, then move into college, and possibly transfer on to a four-year school. It's a beautiful progression," she says.

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