Nathaniel Decker knows how just one great teacher can alter the course of a student's entire academic experience. He was attending Bethlehem Catholic High School when his English teacher made him realize that he not only liked English, but that he was also very good at writing. He was already a martial arts instructor who knew that he wanted to continue working with students in some capacity, so it was a natural fit for him to eventually want to combine his desire to teach with his passion for reading and writing.
"I found that teaching is an interesting process of when someone doesn't understand something, you work with them for a while and then when they finally get that glow of having figured something out, it's one of the best feelings you can have," says Decker. "I'm an education major so that really gives you a lot of electives to figure out what you want to teach, and I've primarily taken English classes."
From his English courses here at NCC, Decker quickly deduced that he would rather teach literature over any other subject, primarily because he also has an interest in history, and literature blends both history and writing. To understand literature is to understand the time period that it was written in, though he found that that that wasn't necessarily the case when reversed; the study of history rarely leads back to the study of any particular type of literature.
"History teaches you the big picture. What were people thinking at that time? I'd like to get in front of a classroom and talk about reading that we can relate to and stories that talk about experiences we've all had," Decker says. "Let's get out of the classics and talk about the new stuff and get kids to be interested and generate their own opinions."
Several members of Decker's family are NCC alums, so when he arrived here several semesters ago, he immediately felt at home and compelled to get involved. He is currently serving as vice president and art director of NCC's literary and arts magazine "The Laconic." He is also the president of the poetry club, and has taken steps to help out with events and other activities in the Student Life Zone. He enjoys the chance to both socialize and network with his peers, and points out that NCC helps promote and foster peer-to-peer networking.
"I've met a lot of people that I wouldn't have, otherwise," says Decker. "That's allowed me to network within the school and all these people that I meet are in different majors and can all help me with different things. You're going to know a bunch of people with a bunch of different skills, and that's a great asset."
Decker plans on transferring to Kutztown University following his graduation from NCC, and hopes to eventually find a position in Pennsylvania teaching British Literature. One thing he hopes for, as a future educator, is that teens learn to turn off their electronics and focus on how much courses can teach them, focus on their homework, and being open to letting someone else change the way they see the subject – just as his teacher once did for him.
"Teaching forces you to exit yourself and focus on your students," Decker says. "It's very cathartic to be able to put that focus there and to help someone else."
Name: Nathaniel Decker
Major: Secondary Education (English)
Projected Graduation Date: 2015