Above and Beyond: Teaching from “Mortaritaville”

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a great story about a North Dakota State University professor who didn’t let her National Guard unit’s deployment to Iraq get in the way of her continuing to teach—via the Internet:

Ms. Wachenheim served as a medical-logistics officer of the 834th Aviation Support Battalion of Task Force 34. She worked out of Joint Base Balad, one of the largest American military bases in Iraq, dubbed “Mortaritaville” because of its location in the line of fire. Ms. Wachenheim says that when she walked around the base after hours, C-RAM (counter rocket, artillery, and mortar) weapons would light up the night sky.

In that kind of environment, running her classes was more like rest and recreation than work, Ms. Wachenheim says. Without the teaching duties, she would have felt like an economist at loose ends.

“Some people like to read on the base, some like to watch movies,” she said in a telephone interview from Fargo, where she returned to teach this semester. “I like to interact with students. People in the unit didn’t want to discuss the idiosyncrasies of the economy. This gave me that outlet.”

Give the woman a medal!

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.