Ginny Chanda: Still teaching, still learning

Staff photo by Philip Wright

COMPUTER-based writing was a concept that English teacher Ginny Chanda was instrumental in developing at the Clarkdale campus of Yavapai College. The writing classroom has 21 computer stations for students.

"I just finished my 25th year teaching here," Ginny said. "I started in 1979. It has really been an experience to watch this campus grow."

Earning her bachelor's at DePauw University and a master's at the University of Pennsylvania, Chanda taught first at Thornton Community College near Chicago and a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. She works in the English department at Yavapai College, but she also teaches a liberal studies course in Western civilization.

Under the heading of "interdisciplinary connections," Ginny teaches a course that studies Shakespeare on film.

"My approach is very grounded in him as a theater person," she said. "It was a form of entertainment that cut across classes."

Soon, she will be teaching an introduction to Shakespeare course on weekends.

If teaching Shakespeare isn't enough for her, Ginny has been spending recent summers in England studying Shakespeare at Cambridge University. She admits, though, that she also has developed a growing interest in history.

"I've become increasingly a history buff," she said. "My ideal retirement would be to go somewhere and get a history degree."

Perhaps she will find time to pursue another interest. "I really enjoy golf," Chanda said. "But it is so hard to find time."

Even though she doesn't play much these days, she keeps her membership active in a local golf club.

When she moved to the Verde Valley, Chanda was experienced in horseback riding, and she joined the Verde Roverettes, a ladies mounted drill team. "We did parades all over the state, including the Fiesta Bowl one year," she said.

Although her golf skills may suffer from a lack of playing time, Ginny keeps her English and creative writing skills well honed by writing short stories and novels. She feels that working on her own writing projects helps her to be a better teacher of composition and creative writing.

She also looks for other ways to help the college's students learn writing. Ginny recognized how important computer skills are for writers and she wanted those skills integrated into writing courses.

"I was instrumental in creating computer-based writing programs," she said.

That was in 1994. The result of Ginny's interest in computer-based learning is a computer writing classroom with 21 individual computer stations for students.

One of the things about the Clarkdale campus that Ginny is most proud of is the type of student the school serves. "Many of our students are basically adults with families and responsibilities who come to pursue an education.

"They can do that because we have a college here," she said.

Although the local campus of Yavapai College has grown tremendously in the years since Chanda started teaching here, she says that growth isn't the most profound thing she has witnessed.

"In this blossoming environment the mission hasn't changed in 25 years," she said. "For everybody -- support staff, faculty, adjunct faculty -- the core mission is the same."

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