Associate professor of music and Director of Instrumental Studies Dr. J. Robert Spence delivered the Kreider Lecture at Elizabethtown College Thursday, Sept. 28.
Spence was the recipient of the Kreider Prize for Teaching and Excellence for the 2016-2017 academic year.
In his lecture, Spence spoke about his experiences in education over the years, both as a student and as a teacher, to an audience of family, friends, colleagues and students.
Spence began his lecture by telling a story about his very first day of school, on which his teacher almost paddled him over a misunderstanding.
He later said this was not only his first day as a student, but also as a teacher, since he taught his classmates what not to do in class.
Spence stated that he always wanted to be a teacher and that he could learn great teaching skills from the back rows of his classes.
Along with his experiences as a student, Spence was able to take a few lessons from other periods in his life, such as the interaction skills he learned as a substitute teacher.
Spence then shifted focus from his time as a student and as a new teacher to his beginnings at Etown.
He spoke of his first time on campus, when he spotted a student wearing a band jacket that read “Harmony” on the back. That experience was enough for Spence to realize that Etown was the perfect fit for him.
However, Spence was not a professor at the time, so he committed to studying and improving himself in order to get hired.
Spence then continued on the path to tenure and promotion at the College over a six-year time period.
Originally, he focused on the journey in life and accepted the destination he came to.
When it came to Etown, he instead focused on the destination and worked diligently to become a professor at the College.
While the subject of the lecture was his experiences in education, Spence filled his experiences with pieces of advice for those listening.
“We’re all teachers, and if you’re willing to admit it, we’re all students,” Spence said.
The remainder of his lecture contained both humor and wisdom as Spence reflected on his years in education.
One of the most poignant digressions within Spence’s lecture was when he explained the corporate flowchart, or pyramid, divided into three portions.
At the bottom of the pyramid were the workers. The middle section of the pyramid contained the managers. Lastly, the top of the pyramid represented groups of people like CEOs or presidents who oversee various institutions.
Spence stressed the importance of the three sections and how they rely on each other. Spence then explained that at Etown, everyone has the chance to be in each of the three sections of the pyramid within time.
He praised the College for having the possibility of mobility throughout the pyramid. Once he ended the lecture, Spence shared what he hoped the students attending would take away from his evening at the podium.
“[I hope that students can take away] a sense of the history of Elizabethtown College, and a desire to put their efforts into making our institution a better place for all those who follow us,” Spence said.
Among the student attendees, junior Caroline Cole shared how the lecture was filled with “Spencisms,” or “what makes Dr. Spence, Dr. Spence.”
Additionally, Cole commented on the corporate pyramid analogy Spence used.
“What I really enjoyed was the essence of all of us being able to fulfill all three roles,” Cole said.
As he spoke of what he learned over the years, and as he imparted his wisdom to the audience, one message that echoed throughout the night was his devotion to Etown and to his students in the music department.
“I am so proud and honored to be a Blue Jay,” Spence said.