I look at my sophomore year in college as the year I really started to "find myself," for lack of a better phrase, and to figure out where my future was really headed. I felt pretty confident going in because I had all the Western Civ/Global History surveys behind me and I was going to take US History, certainly something I felt I could handle much better. It also ended up being a year in which I first became acquainted with three more mentors.
First semester I had the first half of the US History survey. My professor was Dr. Alan Watson. Now of course, I was not aware of Dr. Watson's status within the realm of North Carolina history, but I soon learned. I loved his class, though most students found it boring and tedious, and generally struggled. His teaching style was very similar to my old high school teacher Mr. Maxwell. I found him to be engaging, demanding, but fair, and possessing a sense of humor that I think few students even picked up on. This class ended up being the first A on my college transcript, since freshman year I had struggled to get Bs. One other thing I liked about the class was the textbook. Dr. Watson used America by George Tindall and David Shi. So when it came time to choose my professor for US History II, I consciously looked for someone who used the same text.
I also took my first Education class in that fall semester, Teacher, School, and Society. I hated it. I thought it was a bunch of crap. I put very little effort into it, slogged through, and got a C. This should have signalled something to me, but I figured it was one class, one professor, and things would get better. You know how those introductory courses can be, right?
Spring semester introduced me to two more mentors. For US History II, I decided to take Dr. John Haley. As my friend Jack Fryar has said, John Haley was the "suavest dude" to ever teach history at UNCW. Dr. Haley was great and had a lasting impact on my career, as did Dr. Watson. Over the next few years I would spend a lot of time with Dr. Haley, either in his office or out on the back steps of the building where he preferred to take his smoke breaks.
I also had my first geography class this spring semester. It was Intro to Human Geography taught by Dr. Frank Ainsley. Over the next few years, I would take five more classes with Dr. Ainsley. After taking his Intro class I decided I would take as many geography courses as I could to fill in my "collaterals" for my teaching cert. I already had one under my belt with the past year's political science course, and I had to have at least one collateral from three different areas. So, while I was taking Dr. Haley's US History and Dr. Ainsley's Intro to Human Geography, I also took Survey of Economics. This class was an economics class for non-business majors and it was sort of a "learn economic principles and theories by studying everyday life" type of a class. We learned about economics by looking at current events. Our textbook, such as it was, was a very brief collection of articles about basic economic principles applied to the modern world. A lot of my classmates hated this class, but I found it mildly interesting.
Two more Education classes rounded out my sophomore year. School Learning was really an educational psychology class, and Basic Concepts of Math was a math course designed for Ed majors that was supposed to teach us how to teach math. It was probably the most interesting math class I've ever taken, but I was glad to be done with my math requirements once it was over. After all, I was never going to teach math. So it was one more year in the book and three new mentors to help shape my career. It turned out to be a pretty good year.