GREENVILLE – “I’m going to miss the students,” said Darke County Campus Dean Janice Michael. “And the faculty… the people here are really good.” Michael, who has been a fixture at the Edison Community College local campus – in all of its locations – for 30 years, will be retiring at the end of the year. With accumulated vacation time, her last day on campus will be Dec. 12.
Michael taught her first class as an Edison adjunct in 1983 at the college’s location on Fifth & Walnut Streets, next to a laundromat. “We were there about two years… we had a row of desks on one side of a narrow room; barely enough room to walk from one end to the other. We could hear the washing machines and dryers next door.”
When the lease expired, Edison moved to Greenville High School, evenings only. Several years later, in 1991, the Center moved to the location where Romer’s is now. By then Michael had been teaching as an adjunct for nearly 10 years. A year later, in August 1992, she was named Director of the Darke County Center. She currently holds the title of Darke County Campus Dean.
“We were at that location until 2001,” Michael said. “On Sept. 30 we held our last classes there. While the students were in class we moved the office to our new campus here (Wagner Avenue complex); as soon as the last class was finished we moved the classrooms. We were up and running when the students arrived for class the next morning, Oct. 1, 2001.”
In a ‘life lesson’ to several communications students, Michael recently told two classes she loved history and got her bachelor’s degree in history. She planned to teach high school. She couldn’t find a job. Michael later noted she graduated college at the age of 20. She realistically added school districts weren’t going to hire a 20-year-old to teach high school students. After several years she got a call asking if she could teach an economics class for Edison.
“Sure,” she said. “When do I start?” “Tomorrow,” came the answer. She’s been with the college ever since. She still loves history. “Do you know how many times I’ve taught history, the subject I trained for?” she asked the students. “Zero!” Her point was life and opportunity could take them in unplanned, but equally rewarding, directions.
Michael said the biggest changes she’s seen over the years are in technology. At the Romer’s location there was only one classroom with a computer. Even when they moved into the new campus on Wagner, all rooms were wired for computers but only three had them. Before the move they had to call Piqua long distance to enroll a student in a class… “being able to connect online was new technology at the time.”
One of her fondest memories was doing a fake Egyptian ‘archeological dig’ behind the Edison building in 2004. Her husband, Bruce, brought a truckload of sand and her work study assistant Justin Tuco made artifacts for the students to find. She also had some copper bracelets and junk jewelry mixed in. “We used sifting and documenting, the proper technique for a dig,” she said. “Justin also made a ‘mummy’… it was pretty awesome.”
Michael said she would be back in the summer as an online adjunct. The end-of-semester carry-ins was something she didn’t want to miss. “I really enjoyed them,” she said. “It was a good time to kick back, knowing we survived another 15 and a half weeks.”