Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks faculty member, Jim Pasley, profiled in The Lake Today

From the April 6, 2011 edition of Lake Today by Dianne Steingrubey:

ON CAMPUS: The ‘story telling’ history teacher
Jim Pasley brings unique approach to CC-LOTO

Jim Pasley, a professor at Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks, is described by his students as the “story telling” history teacher.

Photo detail
Pasley is pictured here, from left to right, with the May 2010 graduates of the CC History program: (Front row) Jason Gatlin, Toby Dinwiddie, Shayla Veile, Jim Pasley, Jerri Groves, Laurel Crockett and Chuck Barr; (Back Row) Caleb Rowden and John LaVanchy.
“He tells stories, he doesn’t teach history like any other teacher that you ever had,” said Shayla Viele, Pasley’s former student and Columbia College alumna. “He focuses on the little stories that you don’t read about in the book. He knows everything about every historical figure that you could ever imagine.”
Viele, also a friend of Pasley, remembers the stories he told instead of just a date or an event in history.
“You really feel like you know that person or that event, which is amazing,” she said. “He does voices for different characters and he brings in his own items, such as bullets from the Civil War. He really cares about teaching history and telling the stories that make you remember it. He is respected not just as an educator but as a friend and a mentor, too.”
Pasley with CC-LOTO alumni John Lavanchy (left) and Roy Roark (right).

Pasley is representative of the many thousands of Columbia College alumni who began their experience as nontraditional students. Pasley was a 30-year-old construction worker married with two young children when he started attending classes at the Jefferson City campus. His passion for history began after he took his first class there.
“I had a dynamic teacher there who could tell stories,” Pasley said. “(My professor) said, ‘Don’t worry about all the dates; that’s what books are for and I’m going to come twice a week and tell you stories.’ That approach just stuck with me. The first class I taught, I thought I was going to have a heart attack because I was so nervous and now you can hardly get me to shut up. Gosh, here I am 21 years later and I’m still teaching classes.”

Pasley has twice been selected as Instructor of the Year at the Jefferson City campus. In 1992, he began teaching classes at the newly opened Lake of the Ozarks campus. Pasley now teaches 16 different courses of history ranging from entrylevel American History courses to senior level topics such as The History of Russia.

“As the director of the Lake campus, I can attest to Jim’s amazing teaching skill,” Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks director John Keeney said. “He brings history to life and shows history’s relevance to the lives of his students. Students flock to Pasley’s classes often filling large classrooms to capacity. Dozens of students inspired by Jim Pasley’s classes have chosen history as their major or minor and those students interested in becoming teacher themselves are seeing somebody model expert teaching.”

Pasley and several Columbia College alumni, faculty and staff gathered for the college’s first Education Program event. From left to right: Roy Roark, Carolyn Haggerty, Karen Pasley, Jim Pasley and Caleb Rowden.

Caleb Rowden has taken nearly 15 classes with Pasley. Whenever he saw Pasley’s name on the calendar when scheduling classes, he would sign up for that class first if he hadn’t already taken it. He now has applied to several law schools but is still looking into the possibilities of a dual degree with a master’s degree in history because of Pasley’s enthusiasm and passion for teaching history. He said it was nothing for him and other students to stay after class or arrive early to sit and discuss history and draw the parallels between what’s going on in the world today with Pasley.

“An hour into class we’d go take a break and everybody hustled outside because Mr. Pasley had his pipe he was ready to smoke for the break and while he was smoking the pipe he continued to tell stories,” said Rowden, also a friend of Pasley. “He turns it into a narrative and theirs a childlike interest in the stories that he’s gave us making it fun to learn. But I always said he is the ideal looking history professor — he’s got the beard, the glasses and he carries around his pipe all the time.”

In the community
Keeney said Pasley is wellknown in the area for his knowledge and enthusiasm for history, and he is often asked by schools and communities to come speak about history especially Missouri and Civil War history.

“Just last week I was over at Osage Beach Elementary School as a guest speaker and talked about George Washington to the students,” Pasley said. “We talked about the American revolution. I went over to Lowe’s and got a bunch of wooden sticks and those became their riffles and so we re-enacted being British soldiers. Every chance I get I’m in the community trying to do that sort of thing.”

Pasley is a regular guest on a morning show for KRMS to discuss current events and history and he enjoys the challenges of his audiences’ feedback.

“The best way to learn is to teach and as you are sharing information with people they are coming back with questions and it challenges you,” the history teacher said. “I learn as much as my listeners do. The call-ins down here are terrific; we get everyone calling in to housewives, to students, to retirees and it’s great to listen to all the different perspectives to what happening in the world.”

Pasley is a frequent contributor for KRMS Radio. In this photo, he is broadcasting live with CC-LOTO director Dr. John Keeney (left) and Lake campus faculty member Dr. Marvin Schuties (right).

In 2003, when the decision was made to construct a new facility for the Lake campus, the Lake Campus building committee was formed. The committee was comprised of community leaders willing to promote fundraising in the community. Pasley and his wife were among the first committee members and early contributors to the building fund. After completion of the building, the committee changed its role and became the Lake Campus Advisory Committee with the mission of advocating for the college and giving advice on how the college can better serve the community. Currently, the Pasleys are co-chairs of the committee.

“Everybody hears Columbia College and they think that is that bunch up in Columbia but this place is driven by the community more than it is by Columbia,” Pasley said. “The students are really what drives this place, and the community has just been awesome in helping us get what we have today.”

During his speech, Pasley gave at the groundbreaking of the new Lake of the Ozarks campus building in 2005, he said, “As we stand here today in this great facility, I have only one thing I would change. I would replace the sign out in front that says Columbia College. I would replace it with a giant billboard that simply states, ‘Opportunity.’”

Pasley family
Pasley said he finds the whole Lake Area has rich history. He enjoys researching about his own heritage and how his family ties go a long way back in the Lake Area.

“My great grandfather’s name is Josiah Riffel,” he said.” He had a farm in Gravois Mills, and in fact, Gravios Mills used to be called Riffel Town. I did a lot of research on Josiah and his family. Their farm was actually in Mill Creek Cove and was flooded when the Lake filled.”

Pasley has been married for 37 years to his wife, Karen. They both were born and raised in St. Louis and had the opportunity to move to the Lake Area in 1974 but wound up in Jefferson City and raised their two sons, Scott and Jim. Pasley’s wife, his son, Jim, and his daughter-inlaw, Melissa, are all graduates of Columbia College, as well. He has four grandchildren, who he said are a hoot.

“My 3-year-old granddaughter called the other night and said she been to the dentist and I asked her how it went,” Pasley said. “She said, ‘Great Pa-pa, I didn’t have any calories.’”

When he’s not teaching, Pasley spends a lot of time on the water boating and fishing which is another passion of his.

“I have a 32-foot sailboat I keep behind the house and we got out on the boat all the time. It just a great way to be with your family and be out on the water,” he said. “We just love it down here, absolutely love it.”


Unknown said...

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