When students begin enrolling for classes, a common practice is to look up professors and their courses. Students typically evaluate classes on how they fit their schedules, level of difficulty and who is teaching.
One popular resource is ratemyprofessors.com, where students can provide feedback on previous courses and teachers. Donita Whitney-Bammerlin, instructor of management, is one of the most highly-rated K-State teachers on the site.
Ratemyprofessor.com gives K-State an overall 4.2 rating and gives its professors a 3.68 on overall quality. Whitney-Bammerlin has a 5.0 rating overall, out of 5.0. Her score is further split into helpfulness, clarity and easiness. Whitney-Bammerlin received a 5.0 in helpfulness, 5.0 in clarity and 3.8 in easiness.
“Teaching is my vocation and profession,” Whitney-Bammerlin said. “I’ve always been a teacher and a learner.”
Whitney-Bammerlin first became interested in teaching at a young age. Her parents, who both worked in agriculture, influenced her teaching aspirations. They taught her that everyone is a learner, and even today she said her parents are still learning and curious about the world.
Whitney-Bammerlin grew up in Keats, Kan., a small town about 4 miles north of Manhattan. She chose to graduate from K-State not only because it was geographically close to her family, but also because she had a meager upbringing and her family could not afford out-of-state tuition.
“My parents are my first and best teachers,” Whitney-Bammerlin said. “Both have always turned everyday events and adventures into teachable moments and lessons to learn.”
While at K-State, Whitney-Bammerlin explored different classes and majors before deciding on a degree in teaching.
“I realized that a teacher uses every discipline in one way or another. Hence, I declared education as my major,” Whitney-Bammerlin said. “I cannot think of a class that I took in college that I have not put to use by teaching others.”
After graduating from K-State, she began her teaching career, moving from one place to another. She has taught in public schools and even in a one-room school. She has also taught in several different states and in all levels, from kindergarten to college.
“They all have something to teach me — even the kindergartners,” Whitney-Bammerlin said. “It’s a mutual exchange of knowledge.”
Whitney-Bammerlin finally returned to teach at K-State first in the College of Education, then moving to Research and Extension in Human Ecology. She now teaches various management classes for the College of Business Administration.
She is also the recipient of various awards, including the Presidential Undergraduate Teaching award, a very prestigious award that recognizes undergraduate teachers for excellence in teaching.
Along with her teaching duties, Whitney-Bammerlin is a faculty adviser for Students In Free Enterprise and has developed various courses to keep the management curriculum current, according to Chwen Sheu, head of the management department.
“Most importantly, her passion for helping students cannot be measured by awards,” Sheu said.
In her classes, Whitney-Bammerlin provides a teaching style that some students prefer.
“She has a broader teaching style,” said Natalia Caldarera, senior in business marketing and management.
Caldarera previously took Whitney-Bammerlin’s Organizational Behavior course and is now enrolled in Management of Diversity.
“Some professors lecture or talk off PowerPoints,” Caldarera said. “She is so much fun and enjoys talking about the subject. She likes to assign projects that push students out of their comfort zones.”
For example, in her Management of Diversity class, students are asked to participate in an activity that they would not normally do and present a small report back to the class. Another unique aspect of Whitney-Bammerlin’s class is that instead of calling tests “exams” or “quizzes,” she calls them “celebrations.”
“I like to call tests ‘celebrations’ because the students are celebrating what they know,” Whitney-Bammerlin said. “The real test is 10 years from now and you see what the students are doing and how they are serving the greater good.”
Part of Whitney-Bammerlin’s teaching philosophy is to treat each student as a whole instead of teaching to just one part. Her analogy is like a doctor treating a sick patient. The physician will not look at one aspect of the patient’s illness and neglect the rest of the symptoms.
As a teacher, Whitney-Bammerlin makes a conscious effort to know each student as a person and make a connection that lasts throughout the semester. If a student has not attended class for some time or is facing hard times, she will email that student in an effort to bring him or her back to class and make a connection.
“I would recommend to any student to take at least one class of hers, even if you’re not a business major,” said Chase Moore, senior in human resources. “You learn lifelong skills from her.”