Posted in College Teaching

NealNotes on Neal’s KeyNote


I had a great time at Friday’s Student Success in Writing Conference here in Savannah.  And I delivered the Keynote Address!

Here’s the blurb from the conference website:


“Teaching Life: the Heart, the Art”

 Dr. Neal Saye.  Associate Professor Emeritus of Writing and Linguistics Georgia Southern University.  Adjunct Professor, Savannah College of Art & Design

Chair or co-chair of the Student Success conference for much of its 14-year history, Neal was also a key member of its founding committee. He reported on these experiences in “Pearls and Perils of Starting a Conference” (co-presented with Mary Marwitz and Michael Mills) at a Popular Culture Association in the South in Jacksonville, Florida. He brought the same dedication to running this conference as he did to his teaching philosophy. A dedicated blogger, Neal posted to his Facebook and WordPress sites: “My passion in life is learning about/exploring/playing with the subjects of joy and happiness. For the past five years or so, I have used this subject to inform my pedagogy and my day-to-day classroom assignments and activities. What has happened is that teaching about happiness has made me (and I hope my students) happier. Thus my passion spilled over into my teaching, which came rushing back into my life.”

Now an associate professor emeritus after 24 years of teaching writing at Georgia Southern University, Neal has returned to academia as an adjunct professor for the Savannah College of Art & Design. In addition to his well deserved emeritus designation, Neal’s honors and awards include Georgia Southern University Professor of the Year, 2010 and 1993; Dorothy Smith Golden Award for Teaching Excellence, Writing and Linguistics Department, 2003; Georgia Southern University Award for Excellence in Contributions to Instruction, 2001; “Most Approachable Professor” Award, Success-In-U Program, 1994; and “Funniest Professor” Award, Success-In-U Program, 1993. Neal earned his Ed.D. in Curriculum Studies/Cultural Studies in 2002. After earning dual B.S. degrees in English and Biology from Berry College, Neal came to Georgia Southern to earn his M.A. in English Language and Literature.


Here I am at the podium about two seconds after being introduced:


Kidding.  I actually loved all 35 minutes of it!  The audience was attentive, fun and laughed and ooohed at all the right places.  I used loads of technology with videos, pics and graphics–which all flowed seamlessly.  I’ll post the text of the talk a bit later (in case anyone’s interested) when I clean it up a bit for publishing.  For now here are some photos.


The conference was held at the beautiful Coastal Georgia Center.

Here’s what I wore.  Up to the last minute, I was trying to decide between hip or plain ole.


I know.  Probably too much.  But I wore a jacket over it.  But that eyeball kept looking out at people.


(Armani, borrowed from son-in-law.)



I loved catching up with former Georgia Southern colleagues.  Here I am with good buddy Mary Marwitz, who introduced me:


(Isn’t that a cool scarf?)  And with Interim Writing and Linguistics Department Chair Phyllis Dallas:


Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Curtis Ricker (and fellow grandfather):


Chatting with J. Marie Lutz from Continuing Education and fellow GSU retiree Nancy Dessommes:


And trying to listen in, unseen, on private conversations:


Where are all the people?  Nobody’s here!




Another fellow retiree Mary Hadley:


GSU Provost Jean Bartels:


Former co-worker and blog commenter Rachel VanHorn Leroy:



Coolest tie at conference:








What a crowd showed up!

Here’s a video I used about teachers dancing behind students:


And here are a few quotes from the address:

“We find what we’re looking for.”


“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.”

Caring for Students 101 should be a required course in all teacher education programs.”

“The student is more important than the subject being taught.”


A great time!

10 thoughts on “NealNotes on Neal’s KeyNote

  1. I loved the speech you gave, Neal, and agree with you wholeheartedly. We should put students first, and we should also bring joy and enthusiasm to the classroom. Your speech reaffirmed this for me! Thanks!


    1. You’re welcome, Leigh Ann, and thank you! I REALLY enjoyed the entire experience. And it was such a treat to see you and the other GSU folks!

      Sent from Neal’s iPhone4


  2. Thanks for such an inspiring keynote. It reminds us of why we do what we do. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and be honest, and honesty is a rarity. I appreciate you reminding us why we teach to begin with.


  3. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to be there to hear you speak, but I love the video and your quotes are so on point. I made a move to elementary education this year and it is much easier to focus on the student at a younger age.
    Keep up your motivating positive posts. I love them!


    1. What grade in elem ed? I just can’t imagine the energy that is required to work with little ones. But I know it is SO important. I hope you are a TREMNDOUS success there!


  4. Your keynote address was amazing. It was just the reminder I needed. I have only been teaching professionally for 7 years, but I already felt myself becoming more jaded, and less appreciative of the learning cycle you mentioned. Thank you.


    1. Thank you SO much for your kind words, Anitra. I really had a wonderful time at the conference last Friday. And you guys were an incredibly receptive audience! Take care. Oh, and also thanks for stopping by the blog! Come back often!


  5. Thanks so much for what you gave to all of us there. I was at the conference with a small group of my students, and one of them turned to me and commented right after you finished, “It was worth the 4-hour drive to get here, just for that.”


    1. Hi Sean! Thanks so much for commenting. It made my day. I’m SO glad you and your students were able to attend the conference–what an inspiring gathering of folks! And you guys were all such a wonderfully easy-to-talk-to audience. I was a bit nervous about using so much technology and was thrilled that it somehow miraculously worked. Please keep in touch–and say hello on the blog from time to time.


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