Downs shares passion for English with students

by BRITTNY STEGALL//Staff Writer

A professor’s love for English is shown through her teaching with free writing, open discussions, and new techniques.

Leslie Downs associate professor of English, has been teaching since she was 24 years old. Before Downs became a professor, she attended South Plains College, earning an Associates of Arts Degree in 1975, then getting a Bachelor of Science Degree at Texas Tech University in 1979. She also earned a Masters of Science Degree at Texas Tech in 1982, and did doctored course work at the University of New Mexico in 1992. While Downs continued her studies, she also worked in an art store.

She said she has always had a passion for reading, no matter the content, for as long as she could remember. Her passion for writing grew with her passion for reading.

Downs began her teaching career at a high school, rather than becoming a college professor right away.

“I decided it was time for me to become a professor after teaching two years in a high school,” said Downs. “When I began teaching in a college, I started teaching for Texas Tech, then Rose State College in Oklahoma City, and now I am at SPC.”

Downs takes a different method to English, diving deeper into the concepts and exploring new meanings of it.

“In my classroom, I teach not only writing, but literature, art appreciation, and I strive to teach the students creative thinking and problem solving skills that they can use in the future,” said Downs. “I have the students write essays from narratives, descriptive, compare and contrast, they do free writing, which is a form of writing where you have no punctuation and you just let your writing flow, group projects. We also do open discussions in class. We learn new writing techniques, and I try to create a peaceful environment for the students to work in.”

Downs does not take easy approach in her classrooms. She makes an effort to get to know each one of her students on a personal level, teaching them to the best of her ability. She makes sure that they leave with the knowledge that will prepare them for the future. Every day, she walks into her classroom with a smile on her face, ready for the new possibilities and excited to teach.

Downs says she shares a specific message with her students every semester.

“Examine your beliefs,” she explained. “Dig deep into your thoughts, beliefs, everything that makes you who you are, and know what they are and what they mean to you.”

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