This year there are plenty of new faces around campus. One of them belongs to Doctor Teresa Neal, RMC’s newest English professor.
Although Neal teaches only one course at Rocky, English 119 – Reading and Writing for First Year Experience, she has taught many other courses in her previous years. At the college level Neal has taken on courses such as U.S. History survey courses, Western Civ, and Humanities. Yet, at the high school level, she has taught AP U.S. History, modern U.S. history, British Literature, American Literature, World Literature, and Honors Humanities. Among all of these courses, though, her favorite to teach was “Theory of Knowledge, a required International Baccalaureate class that teaches students to analyze how we know what we know.”
As Rocky students, it is easy to say that we have been accustomed to addressing the faculty as “Professor.” Neal, however, makes a case for her preference of the term “Doctor.” She states, “I have been called “Dr. Neal” by my students for the past decade or so, and that is what I have become accustomed to. My late husband pointed out to me that the title of “Professor” in Europe holds a much higher status than here and is only given to university professors who have achieved tenure and the highest levels of respect.” This does not, however, mean that if you call her Professor Neal that she will be upset, as she later stated, “I think I could get used to being addressed as “Professor” because it is a common practice in U.S. colleges. It is a fairly generic address for men or women, whether we have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. Students don’t have to worry about which is which.”
Though Doctor Neal may be new to Rocky, she is fairly familiar with the area. After being born and raised in Wyoming, Neal attended undergraduate school at the University of Wyoming, before earning a master’s degree from the University of Southern California.
She adds that during her time at USC, most of her graduate work focused on women’s history, stating “I have published a book on how the western states (Montana, California, and Wyoming included) led the way in achieving various levels of “equality” for women in terms of voting, right to divorce, equal pay (although we are still considerable behind on the pay rates), and options for work and education.”
After finishing with her graduates work, she decided that she didn’t care much for the hustle and bustle of the busy LA streets and eventually made her way to Colorado, where she spent the last 24 years until moving to Billings this past June.
When asked what it was that drew her to Rocky, she stated “It’s a beautiful campus. I have driven by it over the years and after moving to Montana I decided that I wanted to teach part-time, so I wrote a letter to the campus and then stopped in and spoke with Jen Bratz.”
But now that she is actually teaching at Rocky, she realizes that there is more to love about our campus than just it’s beautiful exterior. Neal states that her favorite aspect of her teaching experience at Rocky thus far is that “I find the faculty and staff friendly and willing to help. Students seem to be honest, motivated, and friendly. I just moved to Billings from Denver this summer…What I love most about people in the West, as you may have noted above, is that they are friendly, honest, and willing to work…Rocky is an excellent model of all the things I love about the West.”
Though she may only be teaching part-time at the moment, Neal expressed a passion for teaching and explained that her inspiration came from her childhood. “I always wanted to be a teacher, it was my favorite game as a child,” Neal said. “I have younger sisters so it was easy for me to be a teacher. I also love learning, so being a teacher allows me to constantly be learning more.”
Neal has an important message for all students. “Look for the positives. Study what will give you fulfillment in your life, not just the dollars. It is important to love what you do.”