Dr. Ramycia McGhee radiates positive energy as she walks briskly into the poetry classroom with two students trailing behind her, their arms loaded with journal notebooks. Students settle into their desks, the mood is lively and comfortable on a pleasant spring evening.
Easy-going banter passes around the room about the day, homework, and current happenings.
McGhee, a seasoned instructor who taught Writing for eight years at City Colleges of Chicago before joining LBCC’s English Department last September, introduces the lesson on Harlem Renaissance poetry and authors. For 80 minutes, McGhee’s rich and rhythmic voice encourages and challenges the students to think deeper, to give more, wake up, work together and respond. Students smile, listen, speak up and answer back. Before you know it, class is already over.
A few people leave quickly, but many linger, surrounding McGhee as she sits on her desk at the front of the room. McGhee calls out homework reminders, shares advice, gives a compliment or two and an occasional hug.
McGhee makes teaching look easy thanks to hard work and a natural connection with students. Born and raised in inner-city Chicago, she worked and volunteered in a variety of jobs mentoring young people as a teenager and young adult. One day, not long after she graduated from college, McGhee was volunteering with Americorps when she was invited to fill in as a college writing instructor for at-risk students in inner-city Chicago.
“I fell in love with it,”
She was eventually was offered a permanent part-time teaching position with City Colleges of Chicago, where she worked as she finished her doctorate degree in Education Leadership Management.
“I will never forget my first day. I had the biggest butterflies and my stomach was in knots. Yet my students were eating it up and I was too. It was instant gratification.”
She found her calling, even though her career plans and training up to that point had been geared toward journalism. After being selected as a McNair Scholar, a program which prepares undergraduate students of color to complete an undergraduate degree and beyond, McGhee received her bachelor’s of arts in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Race and Ethnic Cultures from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Soon after, she completed a master’s in Journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. For McGhee, journalism turned into the perfect background for teaching writing and literature.
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