Alumni & Friends Profile: Roger Green

 

WNCC Friend Profile
by
Ben Rodriquez
(Developmental Writing)

 

Roger Green is walking reminder that as long as youth have a voice, they will continue to make a difference. He overcame obstacles, developed himself, and, most importantly, made a difference. Roger Green, an amazing person, has contributed to the Scottsbluff community more than most will ever know. He was a city councilman for 12 years and a county commissioner for 12 years. Although he did not graduate from WNCC, an Alumni position was granted to him for his involvement in the construction of the current WNCC building. Roger grew up in Bayard. Roger’s parents were German-Russian immigrants. His dad was 10 and his mom was 6 when they arrived on Ellis Island. Roger’s father had a fifth grade education and his mother had an eighth grade education, but his parents were very supportive of Roger’s receiving an education because they believed that education was the rope that an individual could use to pull themselves up. They were right.

Roger overcame his first major educational obstacle by graduating from Bayard High School. After high school, he graduated from Chadron State College with a bachelor’s degree. Upon completing his education at Chadron State, Roger received a scholarship to the University of Denver where he earned his master’s degree in economics. At the age of 22, Roger became a teacher at Scottsbluff Junior College. His original intention was to teach a couple of years, save the money, and then go back to law school. However, that did not happen. “Well, when I got here, I got hooked on teaching. I really enjoyed the students, and I enjoyed teaching, and so two years turned into forty years,” said Roger. Roger taught economics, history, and political science over the years. He recalls it being an adventure and states that it was a learning experience for the first couple of years. Most students were older than he, and some of them were coming from the military. He really liked the variety of ideas, experiences, and people within the college. However, the first time he ever taught a class was an unsettling experience. “It’s one thing to be one of thirty students dealing with a teacher. It’s another thing to be the teacher dealing with thirty students. There’s no substitute for experience, and you learn an awful lot from your mistakes,” Roger recalls. He compared his early teaching experiences to being all alone on an island.

For the first couple of years he stayed up long nights and studied harder than when he was a student because he wanted to be sure that he was emitting the correct information to his students. Roger definitely had to do some self-development. He had to develop his communication skills, and he had to develop his own teaching technique. He credited Dr. Jim Shaeffer, a political science instructor for 38 years at CSC, for letting him borrow some Socratic methods of teaching. Roger would teach his students by explaining something and then by asking them a series of questions to be sure they understood. One big clue that a student was not learning was when the student would avoid eye contact after he would ask a question. He also encouraged his students to ask questions. He always told his students that there is no such thing as a stupid question, because if you have a question in your mind, there are good chances that other people have that question also. Roger also had to figure out how to reach students that varied in age. He loved to have a sprinkle of older adults in his classes because they contributed differently to the class environment. He strongly believed that individual tutoring is really important for some students because some students are not comfortable in the context of the class.

Although Roger’s first years were difficult, his favorite aspects about WNCC were the students and being involved in the student-action committees. The first year Roger started teaching in Scottsbluff, it was not at WNCC but the Scottsbluff Junior College. The college was part of the public school system which made funding tight, and it was small. It had only two stairways for the entire school population to use. It clearly needed to be improved if it was going to keep operating. Meanwhile, Hiram Scott College, a private school, had the support of wealthy people within the Scottsbluff community. The board of Hiram Scott wanted to give tuition, for one year, to students who were attending Scottsbluff Junior College to increase its student population, which would essentially close down the junior college. However, a couple of concerned students approached Roger and asked him what they could do to save the college. Roger decided to meet with six students after school one day. Once they were organized, they developed a strategy. The first step for saving the College was informing the public about the situation by marching with signs and by traveling to local high schools. The second step was to expand the tax base for the college. They figured out that by going from a city tax base to a county tax base they could triple the amount of revenue that the college could get. In order to do that, they had to go outside the city of Scottsbluff and get five of the eight school boards to agree to put it on the ballot. Roger said it was hard work, but they did it. The next step was to run a campaign. They held dances that they called “Battle of the Bands” to fund the campaign for the first election to expand the tax base. The next year, Roger, once again, got involved with the student-action committees. They repeated the process, and they were successful. The second student action committee was the one to get the bonds passed for the construction of the new college to start.

Roger Green cannon-balled into the Scottsbluff community, and, to this day, we are feeling the ripples from his actions. As the years pass, two things become more and more valuable, friends and time. College is were friends become family, and time becomes crucial. Some words of wisdom that Roger would like to provide to future college students is that it is important to complete core classes as soon as possible. The classes that will transfer and fit into almost any major. He pointed out that a mistake that students make is that they decide too early on what they want to major in, and they overload the amount of work they get, leading them to stress and failure. Think positively, and do not be afraid to try because even a genius has his or her questions. Greatness is a lot of small thing done well daily. “You only get one chance and then you’re adults. Study hard while you’re young. It brings endless results."

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