In one corner of the English pod is an office not unlike many other English professors’ offices. A bookshelf takes up an entire wall, a desk and filing cabinet another, posters are scattered across the walls and neat piles of papers are lined up on the floor. But the contents of this bookshelf and the images of these posters are what makes this office and its inhabitant unique: movies from True Grit to The Twilight Zone rest in a stack next to books ranging in title from Moby Dick to The Odyssey. On the wall is a poster containing a quote from Walt Whitman, and pictures from his children line a cork board above his desk.
This is the office of Dordt College’s newest English professor, Joshua Matthews. In the past he has taught Science-Fiction Literature, and is currently teaching CORE 120, CORE 180, and Business and Tech Writing. Though he’s not entirely sure what next semester will hold, he will be teaching American Lit. I.
Before Dordt, Professor Matthews was a doctoral student at the University of Iowa. He worked for the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review and worked in the Walt Whitman archive as a part of his doctoral work. After school and while writing his dissertation, Matthews worked maintaining gas and oil wells and teaching at the University of Northern Colorado.
After finishing his dissertation and applying for several different teaching jobs across the country, Matthews received an offer to teach at Dordt College. “It was a little bit of a culture shock,” Matthews said with a laugh. “I grew up in a small town, but this is different – small, remote, friendly, and welcoming.” Coincidentally, Matthews first experience with Dordt College came when he lived in Iowa City, when the brother of a past Dordt professor, David Zwart, was his neighbor across the hall.
Going from living in a large, urban setting to a small, rural location was not the only shock Matthews felt upon moving to Sioux Center. “Everyone knows who you are here, and you will see them at church and Walmart and the mall, which has its ups and downs,” Matthews said with a chuckle. The school setting itself was quite a change. “One thing that struck me was the layout (of the school),” Matthews said. “The English pod in particular was really attractive. Here the faculty offices are community oriented, great for faculty interaction. It’s encouraging,” Matthews said.
The change in students and classes is another thing Matthews greatly enjoys about being here at Dordt. “I could expect 7-8 to drop out of a class in the first two weeks. And here, almost every student I’ve had is very committed to do well, which is wild to me,” Matthews said. “The greatest moment in teaching is seeing my students make a connection that I didn’t see.”
Chemistry Major Maddie Kooima is a senior currently taking Business and Tech Writing with Matthews. The class itself is at 8:00 a.m., but Kooima says she enjoys the class and professor so much she doesn’t even realize how early the class is. “Besides making things interesting to us as students, he gives us assignments that are really practical,” Kooima said.
“You know how sometimes professors give work that seems like you’ll never need to know?” Kooima says, summing up why she enjoys Matthew’s class so much. “I never get this feeling in Professor Matthews’ class.”
Hannah DeVries, Co-Editor