Deliberate Approach

Julie Croteau knew early on that she would teach. What – and whom – she would teach took a bit more thought.

“I considered as many options as I could think of,” said Julie, a professor in the Mathematics department at Corning Community College. “All age groups and subject matters were on the table at first. Eventually, though, I narrowed it down to older students and math. With older students, the intellectual engagement goes both ways. Math is concrete. I like that.”

Professor Croteau also enjoys playing with her daughter and exercising. She practices yoga, occasionally runs, and has fond memories of playing basketball and softball throughout high school and college. She’s also one of a select group of people who enjoys change. It doesn’t matter, she said, how many times she’s taught a particular class, her approach is always a bit different.

“My students change,” she said. “They learn differently and so I want to adjust accordingly. We all also have access to ever-changing technology. When it makes sense, I take advantage of new technology, which also changes my approach.”

A sense of variety, though, is one of the few things she does need. Even if she won the lottery, Professor Croteau wouldn’t go on a spending spree.

“I’d pay off my debts,” mused Professor Croteau. “Invest some. I’m a saver. I would spend a bit, but I don’t need a lot of things. If I didn’t have to work, I’d spend more time with my family and share ideas with parents to help them help their students learn from homework.”

Her propensity for helping others may have its roots in family. The youngest of three, Professor Croteau enjoyed (and still enjoys) an especially close relationship with her sister who watched out for her. 

“She took me under her wing,” said Professor Croteau. “She helped me form my definition of success … when you make yourself or something else better than it was before, you’ve succeeded."