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Pamela Stewart named Interim Associate Dean of SoLA

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Pamela Stewart has a multi-dimensional perspective on HFC.

She has experienced the College through the lens of a student, alumna, instructor, and now administrator. Recently appointed as the Interim Associate Dean of the HFC School of Liberal Arts for the Fall 2022 semester, Stewart will work with SoLA Interim Dean Robert Yahrmatter, and the faculty and staff of the School.

“I’ve taught for a long time, and while I love the student contact – that’s what drew me to teaching in the first place – it’s great to stretch and look into new opportunities. As associate dean, I will still have student contact, but this position gives me the opportunity to serve them in a different way. Students who make their way to the AD are often upset or feel they’ve been treated unfairly. You can have a positive impact on them by making sure they’ve been heard and helping them move forward in their education,” explained Stewart.

Yahrmatter is looking forward to their collaborations.

“Pam is an awesome addition as SoLA’s Interim AD,” he said. “She is more than capable of filling this position. I will greatly enjoy working with her this term.”

Strong Dearborn P-12 education prepared her for HFC and beyond

The eldest of three daughters, Stewart was born and raised in Dearborn. A graduate of Edsel Ford High School, Stewart began her education at HFC (then called Henry Ford Community College) in liberal arts.

“Growing up in Dearborn – from elementary at Whitmore-Bolles to middle school at O.L. Smith and finally to high school at EFHS – those years led me to a career in education. So many teachers inspired me; I can’t just name one,” recalled Stewart. “At EFHS, we had an English and humanities program, which was very unique. We studied English for three days, art history on the fourth day, and music theory and appreciation on the fifth day. I was fortunate to have that experience.”

Transferring to the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Stewart earned her bachelor’s degree in English, her master’s degree in teaching, and her reading specialist certification. She earned a master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Spring Arbor University. A registered yoga teacher, Stewart also holds a current State of Michigan Professional Education Certificate with endorsements in:

  • Reading specialist (K-12)
  • Elementary education
  • Language Arts (K-8)
  • Mathematics (K-8)

Broad experiences and opportunities

Stewart began her career teaching language arts at Lowrey School in Dearborn. She also taught second and third grade for two years in the Fulton County School System in East Point, GA.

“In Georgia, I learned the differences between a city-run school district and a county-run school district,” said Stewart.

Returning to Michigan, Stewart completed her first master’s degree and began teaching at HFC.

“It was pure serendipity that I landed here,” said Stewart. “One of my professors at UM-Dearborn, Dr. Nancy Douglas, introduced me to (retired HFC instructor/administrator) Dr. Reg Gerlica, and the rest is history.”

She began her career at HFC in 2004, teaching developmental reading. During her time at the College, Stewart has held many positions, including:

  • Director of the English Language Institute (ELI)
  • Advisory Board Member and later Co-Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation (CTEI)
  • Faculty Senator
  • Advisory Member of the National Organization for Student Success (NOSS)-MI
  • Member of the Scholastic Policies Committee
  • Member of the Retention Advisory Board
  • Member of the Professional Issues Conference (PIC) Planning Committee

Prior to her current position, she was faculty chair of the World Languages program.

“I’ve had the good fortune to work for and with many associate deans who have been mentors to me,” she said. “They’ve been kind and generous with their advice and encouragement.”

Fellow English instructor and ELI director Lori Slaber suggested Stewart earn her TESOL certification.

“It was the biggest blessing for me because it was a helpful reminder shifting back into the student’s seat," said Stewart. The MA-TESOL program was entirely online. I never thought that I’d be teaching online, and there were several other HFC faculty members in my cohort. That shared experience helped us shift our content online at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Our own nervous online student memories helped us to be thoughtful about what we asked students to do and how we communicated with them.”

Intelligent, creative, very kind people

For Stewart, the best part about being at the College is the people – students and colleagues alike.

“I work with highly intelligent, creative, and very kind people. It’s an honor to work with them,” said Stewart. “I also learn from my students. Not only am I affecting things in the classroom, but students are teaching me.”

A recent doctor visit for a routine checkup made it clear how much of a positive impact HFC has on students.

“The technician who drew my blood found out I worked at HFC. She said, ‘I love HFC!’ Another person in that same office told me that she graduated from HFC and got a good education. They shared that their HFC professors opened their arms to them. I was really proud! That was quite a compliment! I only wish I had the presence of mind to record their kind words,” she said, laughing.

Stewart reiterated how important the connection with students is at HFC.

“You’re not just a number here; you’re a human being, and you’re important to us,” she said. "That’s the difference here at HFC.”