Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award
Adjunct faculty, Department of Health and Human Performance
When Janis Bass joined the Department of Health and Human Performance faculty at Plymouth State in 1994, she was already in familiar territory. Not only had she earned her master’s in education with a concentration in health here, but she also had worked for a year with Professor of Social Work Scott Meyer on a grant for a mentoring program to prevent drug and alcohol abuse in children.
Bass was initially attracted to her adjunct teaching position because it allowed her the flexibility to be available for her three children. Now that her children are grown, Bass’s flexible schedule still holds great appeal for her. “Adjunct teaching gives me the freedom to visit my kids, serve on the executive board of the New Hampshire Master Chorale, sing with my church, and be involved in all sorts of other things while enjoying a fulfilling teaching career,” she says.
For the past five years, Bass has taught Human Sexuality, a course that “challenges students to use critical thinking skills and be open-minded so they can be more aware of who they are and how they relate to others,” she says. Bass also teaches courses that prepare K–8 education majors to teach health education to children. The courses emphasize the importance of health, fitness, and wellness of mind and body. “I try to help students understand that, as teachers, they will need to be good role models,” she says. “As teachers, we can talk all we want about nutrition and exercise, but if we don’t do it, how can we expect our students to?”
For Bass, the greatest reward of teaching is the interaction she has with her students. “They are such an interesting group of people. I love having them come in after class to talk. Because of our relatively small classes, you get to have that personal connection, and that is very important,” she says, noting that over the years she has cheered her students on at sporting events, taken yoga classes with them, and even performed alongside them in choral concerts.
Bass’s students also value that interaction and describe her as amazing, encouraging, kind, approachable, fair, and non-judgmental. One student who nominated her for the Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award wrote that she was “the best teacher I’ve ever had” and that she “changed my way of thinking.”
“The bottom line is I’m a mom, and I see teaching as an extension of parenting,” says Bass. “All my students are ‘my’ kids, and I want what’s best for them. It’s exciting to watch them grow and develop and to help them along the way. When I am no longer in the classroom, I hope I can still do something that keeps me in touch with the students here.”
— Barbra Alan