Some clouds
40°
Some clouds
Hi 64° | Lo 44°
Greenfield Community College

It all adds up to staying involved with GCC

Retirement not slowing this math professor down

  • Peter Rosnick, who has worked as a math teacher and dean at Greenfield Community College for 26 years, recently became a professor emeritus and remains involved after his retirement.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Peter Rosnick, who has worked as a math teacher and dean at Greenfield Community College for 26 years, recently became a professor emeritus and remains involved after his retirement. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Peter Rosnick, who has worked as a math teacher and dean at Greenfield Community College for 26 years, recently became a professor emeritus and remains involved after his retirement.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Peter Rosnick, who has worked as a math teacher and dean at Greenfield Community College for 26 years, recently became a professor emeritus and remains involved after his retirement. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Peter Rosnick, who has worked as a math teacher and dean at Greenfield Community College for 26 years, recently became a professor emeritus and remains involved after his retirement.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Peter Rosnick, who has worked as a math teacher and dean at Greenfield Community College for 26 years, recently became a professor emeritus and remains involved after his retirement.  Recorder/Paul Franz

GREENFIELD — Peter Rosnick is retired, but you probably wouldn’t know it.

The 63-year-old Conway educator still spends most of his days at Greenfield Community College, the place he’s worked for the past 26 years as a math teacher and dean. He taught developmental math classes this year as an adjunct faculty member and is actively involved in building up the college’s SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy) initiative.

Rosnick — one of two GCC instructors, along with social justice teacher Abbie Jenks, to become a professors emeritus this year — said his quasi-retirement allows him to choose the projects he’s most interested in.

SAGE, which encompasses the college’s budding agriculture and renewable energy programs, is on the verge of a big year ahead.

GCC soon hopes to announce three grants related to SAGE, which could mean more improvements to the college’s greenhouse, a new partnership with the Franklin County Jail and planning for a one-acre botanical garden on the GCC campus.

Rosnick oversaw projects and courses in these fields when he was dean of the college’s social and natural sciences, math, business and technology department.

But math has always been his specialty. At GCC, he’s taught everything from middle-school-level math to Calculus 3.

“You turn to your left and you’re helping someone add fractions. You turn to your right and you’re helping someone do differential equations,” said Rosnick. “(GCC) is just a really cool place to be a professional when you’re dealing with that range of interests and skills.”

In some ways, technology has changed the way Rosnick teaches. He now gives presentations on a digital white board that records his notes so that he can share them later with students.

But in other ways, he’s still teaching math the same way he did in the 1980s and ’90s. He uses real-world examples as often as he can and tries hard to help his students understand the mathematical concepts, instead of just memorizing formulas.

His future in math was almost doomed in the late 1960s. He enrolled in Tufts University as a math major, but because it “wasn’t cool” to study math back then, he quickly switched to sociology.

During a bicycle trip across the country years later, he read Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and it changed everything. Realizing he could combine his love for math with his interest in working with people, he began pursuing his doctorate in Amherst at the University of Massachusetts School of Education.

By 1989, he had taught for years and secured tenure at Westfield State College.

A job opened up at GCC. Everyone told Rosnick that a move from a state college to community college was a demotion, not a lateral move, but he didn’t listen.

“GCC had such an amazing reputation, it was my community ... and prestige is not important to me,” he said. “So I came here ... and it was the best thing I could ever have done.”

GCC President Robert Pura praised Rosnick’s commitment to students and called him a distinguished faculty member.

He also recalled one day, years ago, when Rosnick’s daughter Tamara visited GCC during a break in her freshman year at Harvard University. She sat through one of her father’s math classes and Pura can still remember her reaction when the class was over:

“Dad, I learned more in your one day of calculus than I learned in a semester at Harvard.”

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com, 413-772-0261, ext. 264, or on Twitter @RecorderShores

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.