Teacher Spotlight: Maggie Shepard

By Jonathan Baca, Staff Reporter | Photo By Jonathan Baca

4Maggie Shepard, a part-time instructor of Journalism and Communications, said she loves making a difference in students’ lives. Before teaching, Shepard worked as a journalist for ten years, covering the crime and criminal justice beat for many publications, such as newspapers like the Albuquerque Tribune to the Associated Press. The Chronicle talked to Shepard about the thrills of newspaper reporting, making the world a better place through teaching, and her passion for raising hogs.
Chronicle: What was it like, being a reporter?
Shepard: I loved it. It was my dream job. It was really satisfying, really exciting, and really unpredictable. Years before the story went national; I covered the story of the bodies that were found buried on the West Side. That was my story for a long time before it got picked up. That was one of my special ones. I covered lots of notable homicides in town.
C: I think some people might get a little queasy writing about that kind of stuff. How did you deal with it?
S: Yeah, it was all pretty serious stuff. That’s why I liked it. I realized that I was doing an important job, documenting history and humanity. It was kind of part of this bigger quest to understand what people’s motivations are. I dealt with it by justifying my purpose.”
C: What is your favorite thing about teaching?
S: I love moments where students tell me that the information I’ve shared with them has changed their life. That is really exciting, and it feels really good. I love getting to know such a diverse group of people, and I love learning new things about my field from people who see things in a different way than I do. Sometimes my students help me to see it in new ways.
C: What do you think about CNM, as a community college, and where it fits in with the bigger picture of higher education in our community?
S: First off, I love CNM. I was offered a job at UNM, and it’s not a hit on them, but I think that CNM actually does a service to our community. I feel the teachers here really care about their students, and enjoy helping them evolve. The general attitude of teachers at CNM isn’t aligned with reputation, it’s really aligned with function, and I like that. I see students who are actually evolving into smarter, more productive people because they can afford to take classes at CNM. I look at my students who are returning after raising kids, or after leaving a domestically violent situation, and who are intimidated by the full process of college. CNM provides a place for people who need a place to start. That is really important, and I’m really glad to be a part of that.

C: How would you describe your style of teaching?
S: I think it’s experiential. I ask my students to experience the information on their own, and find where it fits and their life.
C: Classes you teach like Interpersonal Communication and Public Speaking are life skills as much as they are academic skills. What do you think is the value of learning that stuff for students’ lives?
S: For people who already have high level interpersonal skills, it’s not a big deal. But bettering our communication leads to a gentler, more peaceful world and that benefits everybody. So I find more value in the skills that actually change our world than in learning academic terms and philosophies. What’s the purpose of learning something if it can’t change your life and change your world?
C: What’s in the future for you? Do you have any other goals or things that you’d like to do?
S: That’s a good question, that’s kind of where I am in my life right now and what I’m trying to figure out. I love my job. It’s a very satisfying job, teaching, and I see myself doing it for a while longer. But I’m also moving toward being a farmer, and making my living doing that. And I don’t know what else is going to pop up.
C: Do you have a farm right now?
S: I do, yeah. It’s in its rough stage right now. Mostly just animal husbandry right now, and we’re moving on in the next three years to possibly generating our entire income from it. We have chickens and hogs right now, and through a little meat co-op we do turkeys. Eventually we’ll probably bring in dairy. I’m not much of a green thumb, but we have enough space that we’ll probably partner with somebody to produce some vegetables and a little orchard. It’s a big dream. But I’ll probably always teach a little bit. It’s exciting to see and make a difference in people’s lives.

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