The way it ‘Ott’ to be

Feb 14, 2017 by
betsy_ott_apache

Something Special: Dr. Ott especially enjoys when her students come back to visit and share their successes in school and life after TJC. “I had one student who started out in a one-year technical certificate program. I could see his potential and one day told him he could go further, even to graduate school if he wanted. One day, several years later, he was in the hall waiting for me and he said, ‘I wonder if you remember what you told me all those years ago. I’m now finishing my doctorate in physiology from Johns Hopkins University.’ That was something special for me.”

For TJC biology professor Betsy Ott, nothing is more rewarding than to see the light bulb go off in a student.

“When you share a field you love with someone who may or may not share your passion, and you see him or her go, ‘I get it,’ it’s very rewarding,” says Dr. Ott, who has taught anatomy and physiology and biology at TJC for more than three decades. She was named the 2016 Honorary Member of the National Association of Biology Teachers, the organization’s highest honor.

A course in biology as a senior in high school sparked her own interest in the subject. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from the University of Alabama. In 1982, she moved to Tyler and began teaching summer school, starting a 33-year career at TJC. She later received a doctoral degree in forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University with a research area of biodiversity in plantation understory.

Mindful Mastery

Dr. Ott’s teaching philosophy centers on “mindful mastery,” giving students a sense of control over their own learning while providing a mental map for making connections. One of her primary goals is to equip all students with the habit of looking at evidence and the ability to logically analyze all aspects of any argument, whether based in science or in life at large.

She believes a smaller school offers great educational value because of the attention she can give to her students. “We have one goal at TJC, to help our students do the very best they can.”

Today, she’s proud to call some former students her TJC colleagues.

“It’s a real rush to have students years later join you as competent professional colleagues,” she said.


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On Campus, Winter 2017

About the author

Tracy Torma is a staff writer for The Apache.