Campus Connection Interviews Phil Mahaffey & Drake Wallick

Campus Connection Interviews Phil Mahaffey & Drake Wallick to learn more about these long term TVCC instructors and their plans after retirement.

During the June TVCC Board of Education meeting, retiring faculty members Phil Mahaffey (English) and Drake Wallick (Math) were each recognized for their 32 years of service to the College and student success. Campus Connection had an opportunity to interview these two busy instructors and were able to learn a little more about them as well as their plans for retirement. Below are their interviews:

image of phil mahaffey

Phil Mahaffey

Campus Connection: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
Mahaffey: I started my undergraduate work as a theatre major and an English minor.  Then on a theatre workday, I fell over in a ladder and busted my head open.  Since the theatre was trying to kill me, I decided to switch to English as a major.  Part of the theatre major had been working towards a teaching certificate.  I didn’t want to do any more of that.  I didn’t know if I wanted to teach for sure, but I decided that if I did go into teaching, I would teach at the college level.  Although I have had other jobs over the years, I have always come back to teaching.  It remains the most challenging and most rewarding work I have ever done.

Campus Connection: What brought you to TVCC?
Mahaffey: I was in Texas and wanted to move further west. TVCC offered me a job before Clark College asked me for an interview.

Campus Connection: What is your teaching philosophy?
Mahaffey: The short version:

  • You can’t give students what you don’t have.
  • Students need to hear it, see it, and do it.
  • Practice small, write big.
  • Students need to read the kinds of texts they are trying to write.
  • Don’t force humor in the classroom.  Relax, and it will come on its own.
  • The students need to discuss problems in small groups before they try to discuss them before the whole class.
  • Ultimately, the answer to every question about writing is “It depends."

Campus Connection: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Mahaffey: Learning new things and interacting with students.

Campus Connection: Why should students choose to attend TVCC?
Mahaffey: The close attention from the faculty.

Campus Connection: What is your proudest moment at TVCC?
Mahaffey: Leading the effort to have Craig Lesley come to campus for a college wide reading of The Sky Fisherman.

Campus Connection: Any advice for new instructors?
Mahaffey: Start collecting a “bag of tricks”—exercises to supplement your lectures.

Campus Connection: What are your plans after retirement?
Mahaffey: Teach part-time for a while, get back to working on my own writing and travel.

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Drake Wallick

Campus Connection:  Why did you decide to become a teacher?
Wallick: Since I was very young, I have had a helpful nature. And helping people overcome the fear of math has been my mission.

Campus Connection:  What brought you to TVCC?  
Wallick: Community college is the best setting to teach and coach. Another one of my passions is coaching. I was the TVCC’s Men’s Basketball Coach from 1988-1998 and again from 2006-2009.

Campus Connection:  What is your teaching philosophy?
Wallick: I’m a “parts to whole” thinker. Students can have more successes if the math is in “bite” sizes. Understanding how the parts (a puzzle) fit together is my approach. I model problem solving strategies then turn it over to the students to problem solve for themselves.

Campus Connection:  What do you enjoy most about your work?
Wallick:  Students, students, and more students. My coworkers! My coworkers are my family away from my family. 
Helping students move a little closer to their goal.

Campus Connection:  Most memorable moment (funny, inspirational, etc.) 
Wallick:  In the classroom - Seeing heads nod “yes” in that ah-ha moment. Outside the classroom - Basketball trips in blizzards, last second shots that dropped!

Campus Connection:  Why should students choose to attend TVCC?
Wallick: Faculty and staff are concerned  for students’ welfare and success, we give them a personal touch.

Campus Connection:  What is your greatest professional and/or personal accomplishment?
Wallick: Way too many to pick one or two highlights. But, TVCC has been the vehicle delivering me a fulfilling professional career and  satisfying personal 32 years here.
Campus Connection:  What may be something that people who have worked with you for so many years may not know about you?
Wallick:  I like smooth jazz, James Taylor, I like to mountain bike, and I brew beer.

Campus Connection:  Any advice for new instructors?
Wallick:  “When you get frustrated …………………………. (cause you will) give me a call. We can talk away the frustration.” 

Campus Connection:  What are your plans after retirement (i.e., hobbies, travel, etc.)?
Wallick:  Seeing family and friends, expand the brewing, build an ultra-light plane and fly it.