Communications instructor helps students find their voice

Communications instructor Kay Rutherford has lived the experience of most of her students. She started her education at a community college, where she developed a passion for communications and eventually earned an associate degree. This experience inspired her to continue her education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree in the field. She hopes to offer a place for her students to explore their interests in the way she was able to at a two-year college.

“My objective each quarter is to create an environment where my students can find and develop their voice,” says Kay, who has been teaching at Seattle Central for nearly 20 years. “When I’m teaching, it’s important for me to show my students that they all have distinct abilities, whether they recognize them or not.”

Kay teaches introductory communications to a diverse group of students in both the College Transfer Program and most Professional-Technical programs, which often require a foundation in communications. She caters her teaching to her students’ needs in order to equip them with the communications skillset they need to succeed in other college courses and in the workforce. She meets with students to discuss their individual goals and finds it rewarding to see them become more confident in their communications skills.

Each quarter, she experiments with something new to try to engage her students further and offer them relevant skills. She integrates lessons on social media and continually looks to make her classes accessible by adopting more online opportunities. She takes note of what works and integrates it into future classes.

“My students are very bright. They often just need the support that allows them to feel safe to express themselves,” said Kay. “If we approach each student as one size fits all, there isn’t an opportunity to help with their personal growth.”