On Sept. 1, 2001, Dr. Patrick Greco began teaching full time at Sinclair. Prior to this, Greco was teaching at Miami, where he was working towards completing his PhD.
Greco has taught and lead a variety of classes at Sinclair over the years, including general chemistry 1 and 2, intro to chemistry, organic chemistry lab, and some specialty courses such as forensic chemistry, while also serving on several committees.
Over the years at Sinclair Greco has received many noteworthy awards including the National Award of Teaching and Excellence through the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), and the Honors faculty member of the year. Additionally, while accomplishing this he finished his PhD in chemistry in 2011.
Aside from these awards, there are a few things that make Greco stand out as a professor at Sinclair College: his teaching style and his character.
All too often in college students can become numbers, whether it is through the headcount of a class or a student I.D. With how many students a professor must teach, it is very easy to treat them as a conglomerate whole, instead of individual people.
There have been many experiences like this, where a student will leave at the end of the semester and not even know their professors’ name, and vice versa.
This is next to impossible in Greco’s class. The first day of class he has everyone make a name tag that they must bring with them to every lecture. On the back of the name card are a few questions about the student, such as where they work and what they are studying, among others.
At the end of that first class Greco collects all of the name cards, and reads them all before the next lecture. Then, when he personally gives the card back at the start of the follow up lecture, he will talk to the student about something they wrote on their card.
This might not sound like much, but it adds a huge amount of comfort to the classroom. It is only the second day, and the students have a personal relationship with the teacher and don’t feel like a number. This kind of relationship helps motivate some students who would otherwise be uninterested.
“He is always interested in what his students are doing,” Maria Bowman, one of his students, said. “He will listen to you when you talk to him about something, and will even offer to help or a piece of advice. This extended to activities outside of chemistry, such as my involvement in the Sinclair choir.”
This past year Greco got even more involved with students by starting a course called Undergraduate Research in Chemistry. In this course, Greco works with students one on one to complete a chemistry project. One such project was at the Honors Symposium this year, where a student analyzed and made object that people use every day such as soap.
Greco will also take some time to tell students about his life. These little blurbs of info help the student to realize that their professor is just another person, and is not out to make sure anyone gets a bad grade. Additionally, they provide a short break from a rigorous lecture.
“He is able to laugh and make class fun,” Bowman said, “but he also makes sure we learn everything.”
This leads into the second thing Greco does exceedingly well, his teaching style.
Walking into a lecture with most professors is a gamble. It’s not a guarantee that they will know the material well, answer any questions, or if the lectures will be engaging instead of just being a slideshow.
Greco has a different way of approaching lecture. At the beginning of class he has all of the students pick up a small whiteboard with a dry erase pen. Then throughout the lecture he will ask a question for the students to answer on their whiteboard.
This accomplishes two things, first it lets Greco know where everyone stands with learning the material he is covering. If a majority of the answers are wrong he will go back and cover the material again, focusing more on the point of conflict.
If only a couple students got it wrong, he will still take some time to cover the material, and encourage students around them to help out.
The second thing this action achieves is breaking up the lecture into smaller manageable chunks, and keeping the class engaged. In a lecture, especially if a student has multiple lectures a day, it is easy for their mind to wander. This bit of engagement helps students stay focused, calling their attention back to the material.
Students have noticed this, and appreciate it. “As an older student Patrick made it easy for me to not only succeed in his class but to enjoy it as well.” Stephen Feltoon said.
“I truly love what I do [but] I am not just a chalk and talk professor,” Greco said. By mixing traditional teaching with the whiteboard, occasional discussion and in class presentations Greco has created an engaging learning environment.
What this all leads up to is the realization the Greco is such a great teacher because he is a person. Greco, a lifelong student, knows how difficult it can be to learn and does everything in his power to work with students.
For me, Greco has made a huge difference in my life. Two years ago I was skating through most of my classes, just showing up to lectures and completing the minimum amount of work. I really thought I could do anything easily, so I took chemistry.
What I was expecting to be an easy A turned into a real project. I struggled. With Greco’s help though I was able to understand the material, and came out with a real passion for chemistry.
“At a community college, we have the pleasure of teaching small class sizes as well as teaching the labs. These small classes allow for an intimate teaching environment that I thoroughly enjoy.” Greco said.