How Professor Zimmerman Has Taken Covid-19 Head On
By Carlos Delgado
Across the country thousands of colleges and universities have had to shut down all on-campus classes and activities due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instructors were told to proceed to teach their classes through online learning. This meant that instructors who have never taught an online class before were thrown into the fire and had to learn and adjust their way of teaching. Many instructors have had a hard time adjusting to online learning, but professor Jim Zimmerman was ready to take on the task.
The University of Saint Mary officially shutdown and closed both its Leavenworth and Overland Park campuses on March 16, 2020 (see timeline below). Remote classes were to begin the following week. “It’s obviously an unusual situation,” said Zimmerman, “I prefer to teach in the classroom, so it’s a little adjustment not being able to see the students.” This little adjustment has not stopped him from learning new things about technology that he did not know before. “I’ve taken this time to learn a lot about technology and some of the things we can do in the classroom or outside of the classroom with technology,” says Zimmerman.
Mr. Zimmerman grew up in a farming community in a small town in western Kansas, so he knows a little bit about perseverance and hard work. He graduated from Fort Hays State University and eventually went on to get his master’s degree in Sport Management through the United States Sports Academy. This will be his 13th year at Saint Mary where he serves as the director of sport management and as faculty athletic representative.
During these troubling times, professor Zimmerman has learned to take the good with the bad. Being the forward thinker he is, he has already thought about new ways future sport management classes can be taught. “[Technology] could open up future opportunities to put some sport management classes online in the summer time,” says Zimmerman. He has also been working hard to help students register for future summer and fall classes. “I try to advise a couple students a day through Zoom. I can share their degree audits with them and we can go through it and I can advise that way,” Zimmerman explains.
This is a difficult time for students and instructors as they are both trying to adjust to remote learning. Professor Zimmerman is hoping that he can help ease the stress by being available to his students whether it’s through email or phone. He is trying his best make sure no student feels like they are being left behind and is continuously answering emails and returning phone calls.
Many professors are not used to working from home, as their office at the school is where they are able to get most of their work done. Mr. Zimmerman has never really had to work from home and he enjoys waking up and going to work every day. “If I had to work late at night or grade papers late I’d just go to the school and do that…I’m getting better at [working from home] and have been able to adjusting to the situation,” says Zim. Working from home can get difficult at times but professor Zimmerman is always looking on the bright side, as he gets to spend more quality time with his family.
The coronavirus has also brought the end to all school activities. This means that spring sports were cut short this semester. As the faculty athletic representative, Mr. Zimmerman has been on Zoom calls with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, to talk about eligibility for future students since many incoming freshmen will not be able to take the ACT or SAT test. Zimmerman is in charge of making sure students are eligible academically to play their respected sport, so its important that he gets the information he needs from the N.A.I.A. Junior Adrian Cardenas, who is a pitcher on the baseball team for the Spires, is very frustrated that his junior season was cancelled because of the virus. “It feels like someone tied my arms behind my back and left me in a room,” says Cardenas. I can only imagine this is how all athletes feel, as their seasons were
In the end, professor Zimmerman’s passion for teaching and his love of sports will not let the coronavirus get the best of him. This is a difficult time as we are all trying to adjust and make a positive out of a negative. All we can do is be patient and hope that things can slowly go back to normal.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Saint Mary and have enjoyed the community, and hopefully we can back to that after this Covid virus and be on campus in the fall,” says Zimmerman.