Disability Center Honors Professor

By Amberly Richardson

An open door policy, which extends to his days off, is one of
the reasons why computer information systems Professor Carlos
Navarrete was named the Disability Resource Center’s Professor of
the quarter.

Students with the DRC nominated Cal Poly professors who accepted
and accommodated his or her disability more than others.

Camilo Trevino nominated Navarrete because of his dedication and
encouragement.

“He came in on his off days to make sure I had the material,”
said Trevino. “When I was struggling with the math involved, he
told me he knew I could do it and that he would help. It’s almost
unheard of for a teacher to come in on a Saturday.”

Navarrete displayed qualities the DRC was looking for.

“He was very accepting of student’s limitations,” said Santiago
Moran, a member of the DRC’s student committee.

“There are a lot of issues with professors not accommodating
students with disabilities,” said Moran.

The professors who do go out of their way to accommodate
students with special needs often go unnoticed according to Moran,
so the “Professor of the Quarter” was started as a way to recognize
these teachers.

The award was unexpected, but Navarrete is honored by the
acknowledgement.

“Cal Poly is so strong in teaching, that’s what makes the award
more valuable,” said Navarrete. “However, you don’t do it for the
rewards; you teach to develop the mind.”

The DRC offers professor notification which enables teachers to
understand student disabilities and to not confuse legitimate
reasons with excuses.

“Professors accommodating students with different needs is them
understanding that this student has limitations, but the student
will do the work, it just may have to be in a different manner,”
said Moran.

Trevino appreciates that Navarrete fosters an environment to ask
questions. Experience has taught him that not all professors
tolerate questions during class.

“I’ve been snapped at for asking questions,” said Trevino. “They
tell me to leave my questions until the end of a lecture, so I do
not hold up the class.”

Navarrete does not replicate this teaching style.

“As a teacher, it’s important to develop a learning environment
where everyone feels free to ask questions,” said Navarrete.

In his classes Navarrete uses a green card, red card teaching
method. Before he continues a lecture, he asks students to raise
their hand if they understand the material, which is a green card.
He will then ask for red cards, which means students need
clarification.

If not all students raise his or her green cards, but they do
not raise their red cards either, then he jokes students are using
their shy cards. This tells Navarrete he needs to explain the
material in a different way.

He’s willing to help teaching approach continues outside the
classroom.

“Today I sent out e-mails to students with low midterm grades,”
said Navarrete. “I told the students to work hard and come and see
me.”

Navarrete does not attribute poor academic performance to lack
of motivation, but rather to students lack of time.

“Many Cal Poly students are taking four classes, working 20
hours and, as I joked in class, have two girlfriends,” said
Navarrete. “It’s just too much. I tell students to measure
themselves and their courses with their capabilities.”

Navarrete estimates he has had more than 3,000 students in the
course of his 23-year teaching career. He enjoys when any of those
students stop him to say hello, both on campus and off.

“It’s the most unique experience,” said Navarrete. “In some ways
we don’t need awards, that is enough.”

His evaluations are good and his classes are full, but Navarrete
insists that this award, while welcomed, in no way means he is the
best.

“Recognition for what I love to do,” said Navarrete. “Isn’t it
nice?”

Amberly Richardson can be reached by e-mail at
news@thepolypost.com or by phone at (909) 869-3747.

Disability Center Honors Professor

Disability Center Honors Professor

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