By Hattie Bernstein
It took a master’s degree program to make Tim Brecheen realize he wanted to be a teacher.
“I recognized my own desire to learn and to pass it on to others,” he says, recalling the light bulb that turned on in his head while he was pursuing graduate studies in management.
There also was a family influence. “My mother taught elementary school, and I think any skill I have in the area is all due to her,” he says.
Brecheen works full time for the U.S. Air Force, managing engineering, security and construction for a satellite tracking station in New Boston, N.H. Since 2006, he has also taught environmental science and management in the graduate program at the Manchester Center on SNHU’s main campus and online.
“What helps me resonate with students are the real-world experiences I bring to the classroom,” he says. “I’ve brought the class alive with real-world scenarios.”
It’s the instructor’s respect for each student and his belief in the “multiple lanes of learning” that have kept the spark alive.
“I believe there are seeds of greatness in every student, and each one comes to the course with unique and diverse talents and background that benefit everyone,” he says. “My role as the instructor is to help unpack those talents.”
To that end, Brecheen employs a teaching strategy that “customizes” the learning experience, an approach that contrasts sharply with the one-size fits-all philosophy he grew up with.
“I create as many lanes as I can for students. In class, we have group discussions, and some don’t like it, while some kind of come alive. I use YouTube clips and the discussion board, as international students not comfortable with English sometimes prefer the discussion boards,” he says.
When he’s not teaching or fulfilling his duties as a U.S. Air Force mission support officer, Brecheen often reads about education. He says he’s been inspired by “disruptive innovation” (which also has influenced SNHU’s mission), the idea that success in higher education depends on a swift response to social and economic change and the use of new and emerging technologies.
“The model is changing,” he says. “I want to do things to be at the center of that in 10 years. In my own preparation, I’m trying my best to stay attentive to what the future is going to be.”