By Olivia King
Dr. Vikki Bentley, associate professor of education, chairs Rochester University’s Department of Teacher Education. She has taught at RU for almost 35 years.
What brought you to RU and why do you choose to work here?
“In 1986 my husband and I were living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when he interviewed for a teaching job here. We planned to move to Rochester, and I was wondering what I was going to do for a job. A week before we were going to visit the area to find a place to live, the academic dean called me and asked me if I would be willing to teach English. They needed an English teacher on rather short notice because the person they hired for the job had gone out for a run and had a heart attack and passed away.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
“For 35 years I have chosen to work here because I believe in the mission of the institution. I also enjoy the relationships with students and the other employees. I have also taught a wide variety of courses: English, reading, education, special education, and early childhood. Variety is a very rewarding part of my job. I have worked with a wide variety of employees and many students who have taught me many important skills and life truths.”
What do you do outside your job to stay sane, relieve stress, or what are your hobbies?
“For me, recreational reading relieves stress and allows for a brief escape. The best outside activity is seeing my children and grandchildren—so I’ve missed out on a lot of that this year.”
Where did you grow up? Describe.
“I had a great childhood. I grew up in the desert of Southern California. My mother was a teacher and my father was a maintenance man at a high school. Our house was on a large lot, so there was plenty of space to play. We had family dinners with my aunts and uncles. During the summer and because my mother was a teacher, we usually had my three cousins at our house while their parents were working.”
What is your most prized possession?
“My family members aren’t possessions, but there aren’t any possessions that are more prized.”
What is your most embarrassing moment?
“A couple of summers ago, my husband and I took a trip to Mackinac Island with our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. We also went to Tahquamenon Falls. When we arrived in the parking lot, we were all anxious to be out of the car. I was so anxious to get out that I tried to leave the car with my seat belt still buckled. We all laughed, but it was embarrassing.”
What is the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome? “The obstacles in my life have not been big, and I can’t pick out one more difficult than another.”
What is a random fun fact about you?
“My mother was a teacher at the school I went to from kindergarten to 7th grade. I rode with her to school every day, and when I was in 6th grade, she was my reading teacher.”
What single piece of advice would you give to students today?
“Sometimes a ‘B’ or ‘C’ is a reasonable response to what is happening in your life, and your letter grades don’t mean you didn’t learn. Learning isn’t just about a grade.”