For Dr. Jim Ressler, assistant professor in KNPE, school was always a source of inspiration and opportunity. “As a K-12 student, I enjoyed learning about different topics,” he said. “I always had respect and appreciation for teachers who shared information with others, and I was positively influenced to take it all in and take advantage of every educational opportunity.”
Ressler said that throughout his learning experiences, he was fortunate to have strong role models. “I had a high school government teacher who was truly invested in hearing the students’ voice in class; he was fun; he had a good personality; he was prepared, yet spontaneous. He really knew the content and how to connect with students.”
Ressler also had a high school baseball coach who helped him learn how to advocate for himself. “He was very honest, but firm and fair—that really shaped me, but it was not until college that I started thinking about pursing education as a career.”
Initially Ressler started off as a business and sport management major, but was later convinced by a coach to switch his major to education. “As an undergraduate and first generation college student, this change was really good for me. I realized that teaching was a way I could pay it forward to others, and to give back to those who made my upbringing so positive. “
Given his thirst for knowledge, it is not surprising that Ressler was drawn to a doctoral program at Ohio State University after four years of teaching. He loved working with high school students but felt like something was missing. “In academia I was finally able to carve out my niche; I became immersed in life as a faculty member and was constantly learning from my committee how to become a better faculty member. “
Today, Ressler is just finishing his fifth year as a faculty member at NIU. He is enthusiastic about his role serving the students and helping current and future teachers complete their course work. “In KNPE, we engage our students through content, emails, conferences, social outings, school fairs and networking,” he said. “We are passionate about bringing the right people together so our students can have a better quality of life.”
Ressler, who teaches undergraduate and graduate assessment courses, also coordinates student teaching and middle school and high school clinicals. He works mainly with pre-service physical education teachers and graduate students who are already teaching and working toward a master’s degree.
He said he likes to stay current with what his students are looking for in the curriculum, and ways he can keep them informed with the practical information they need to grow as practitioners. “In KNPE, we give our students the tools they need to become better teachers immediately,” he said.
When he is not teaching, coordinating, or researching, Ressler enjoys running and spending time with his wife Mary Beth and their three children.