Faculty on Writing
Professor: Dr. John Covaleskie
Interviewed By: Ashley Allen
Date: September 25, 2003
Dr. Covaleskie has been a professor in the Education Department here at Northern for ten years. He usually teaches Introduction to Education, Dimensions in American Education, Teaching and Learning in the Secondary Classroom, and sometimes graduate education classes (ED 506 and ED 507). Before coming to Northern, he worked in many different areas of the education field, from kindergarten, grade school, high school, and even administration.
Dr. Covaleskie is known among the education students as an avid paper assigner. He gives writing assignments often to his students because he believes that people, in general, should be capable of writing well. “I’m teaching people who are going to be teachers. They have to be able to write!” The papers that he receives range in their degree of ability, from sheer brilliance to having difficulty forming a complete sentence. Coma splice mistakes and fragmented sentences are the most evident problems areas he notices. When grading, Dr. Covaleskie generally looks first for content and thought development, followed by word choice and mechanics.
Dr. Covaleskie also happens to write a lot in his spare time. He frequently is published in professional journals and is currently working on a book about education. Though he is a fan of writing now, this was not always the case. In high school, Dr. Covaleskie hated writing, and even in college, it was never a strong suit. It was later in his life (in his early forties) that he discovered his passion for writing. The trick, he said, is to, “Write about stuff you like.”
He believes that writing is important because in the real world, people will be dealing with colleagues, bosses, and parents, and they need to know how to communicate on paper. “Having a college degree means having a college education, and educated people need to know how to write.”
He is familiar with the Writing Center and occasionally advises his students to go there (though I have never heard him say that to our class). According to Dr. Covaleskie, improving writing skills is an important aspect of learning, and even good writers need help sometimes. When asked how he feels about his own writing, Dr. Covaleskie responded, “Well, I wish it was better,” thus confirming the fact that even the good writers strive for improvement.
Hopefully, as a result of this interview, there will be more education majors seeking the advice and knowledge of the Writing Center staff, courtesy of Dr. Covaleskie.