By Ashley Berg
By Ashley Berg
With six “Teacher of the Year” awards and a novel rÃ©sumÃ©, it’s no surprise Professor Jan Kollitz is one of the best English professors at Riverside Community College.
In our two hours together I went from interviewer to interviewee. Kollitz wanted to know everything she could about me, which is a testament to who she is, and what makes her such a wonderful teacher.
She is an encouraging person and devoted to her students. She wants all students to be successful in their world outside of RCC.
RCC students on ratemyprofessor.com have given her an overall score of 4.3 out of 5. Though her class isn’t seen as easy, scoring only a 3.5 in that category, students still had great things to say about her.
“Professor Kollitz is an amazing woman, she is so full of life and is a really great instructor,” boasts one student.
“She had so much energy and spunk. She was awesome to have. I loved that class,” was another student’s comment.
RCC student, and Kollitz’s granddaughter, Mara Stepe, regularly hears student comments and testimonies about their personal experience in her grandmother’s class.
“I was at Kaiser and (a lady there) heard me talking about my grandmother and said, ‘That’s your grandmother?! She changed my life!'” Stepe said.
Kollitz wants to know and understand students on every appropriate level and help them in any way she can.
“I have students come into my office to ask me questions that aren’t even my students,” Kollitz said.
“She’s really passionate about her students,” Steppe said. “Whenever I go to her house, that’s all she talks about.”
Her teaching style is a simple equation: she gives students the tools they need so they can think for themselves.
“I let (students) revise their papers over and over until they get it right,” Kollitz says. “Students are not stupid, only short changed by the system.”
She explains that the school systems today are much different than years before. Kollitz learned the basics of English in elementary school. Now, the English courses below 1A are the norm.
“My K-12 was (very) different than the K-12 today,” Kollitz said.
Teaching was not the first career path for professor Kollitz, she has worked in many different professions.
“Between working for a cosmetic company (as vice president) and art editor (for Ãlan Magazine), I owned an import-export business,” Kollitz said.
She was also an electronic technician and news reporter for the News Register in Fremont, California, before teaching at RCC.
Kollitz started taking classes at RCC in 1985, where she got her first and only teaching job. She started as a part-time professor in 1988, then went on to teaching full-time and getting her Master’s Degree in 1998.