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Film professor keeps classes ‘normal’ ...

Film professor keeps classes ‘normal’ as possible during pandemic: We’re in this together

When the pandemic hit last spring, Film professor Libby Hinson said one of the most important things she focused on was continuing her classes normally despite the circumstances.

The first thing I told my class was we are going to meet at our regular class times. We’re not going to miss classes, and we are going to do our best,” Hinson recalled.

“All of a sudden, I needed to teach on Zoom, which scared the life out of me,” she said. “I admitted to my students this was a bold experiment for us all, and we were in this together. Once I admitted this fully, they were totally on-board with me and told me, ‘It’s ok! We’re going to help you!’ We really were in this together,” Hinson said.

Libby Hinson teaches her students “The Time Warp” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

And together, Hinson and her students finished the spring semester.

“Zoom has been a bonus during the pandemic,” she said. “The nice thing about Zoom is you can stay in touch with students. One of the great things about MTSU is many of our students value being at school and the opportunity to be at school. We have a lot of first gens who are happy to be here and are thirsty for their education, and that is such a wonderful thing.  Zoom gave us the opportunity to talk on the weekends, at night. With our students’ busy schedules Zoom opened opportunities for one-on-one meetings we couldn’t have done before.”

Hinson continued, “One time a student set up a Zoom meeting with me, and we talked a little while and finally, I said, ‘Ok, what’s going on with your screenplay?’ and he said, ‘Oh no, I didn’t want to talk about my story; I just wanted to say hi.’ It was just lovely — he needed a social outlet, maybe someone who wasn’t his parents but was a grownup. We started talking about movies, what he might watch. The reaching out of the kids during COVID has been extraordinary.”

Libby Hinson teaches her students “The Time Warp” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Being available to her students, even before the pandemic, is something Hinson has always made a priority.

“I am very in touch with my students,” she said. “I am concerned about them holistically — their personal lives, mental health, and how they are faring. We share a lot; we talk about more than just curriculum. I give them my number and tell them they can call me anytime – day or night. I’ve always worried about them, but when the pandemic struck, this part of teaching has become much more important.”

Before moving to Tennessee to teach at MTSU just over two years ago, Hinson had a successful career working as a screenwriter and two-time Emmy award winning sound editor. Working on children’s television shows, her list of credentials includes writing “Winnie the Pooh” and “The Magic School Bus,” among others. Her husband, Rick Hinson, also teaches in the College of Media and Entertainment.

— DeAnn Hays (deann.hays@mtsu.edu)

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