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Wednesday December 11, 2019

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Faculty Focus: Paul Todaro
November 11, 2019

Students in Paul Todaro’s Computer Applications course often fall into one of two categories. One type of student readily admits to being not-so-tech-savvy. The other type plays World of Warcraft for hours on end and is a self-titled computer wizard.
Todaro’s disarming sense of humor manages to blend both types into a seamless and effective classroom where the intricacies of Word, Excel and PowerPoint are taught.  
“My ‘Computer Applications’ class is difficult and creates a stressful environment. I use humor to break the tension. Sometimes student get my jokes. Sometimes students may get the joke a year later,” Todaro said.
Todaro knows many students are surprised by the difficulty of the course, but he stresses the importance of the material. 
“Once students get the material, they really appreciate the class. The skills learned in this class will help them throughout college and into many of their careers,” Todaro says.  
Todaro connects with his students so well because he’s been in similar situations.
“I started at a community college and my family was very poor. I worked 
full-time while taking classes both at Nashville Tech and later at ETSU. I understand students who might be taking classes, working two jobs and taking care of a family,” he said. 
While his students know him for his sense of humor, few know about the role he played in the college’s technological revolution in the late 1990s. His first position at Walters State was supervisor of microcomputing services. He was responsible for the helpdesk and the computer labs on all four campuses. He later became director of user services and served one year as the college’s chief information officer.
“That was a very busy time in instructional educational technologies. The department tripled in size in a very short time as more computer labs and online classes were added,” Todaro said.
He then had what he calls “my only genius moment.” He inquired about an open teaching position in Greeneville.
“I was driving from Greeneville and working very long hours. I had always wanted to try teaching, so I asked if I could apply.”
A few weeks later, he was assistant professor of computer science and information technology. He did both jobs for a few months while his replacement in IET was transitioning to the role. 
“I was working late and I wasn’t seeing my daughter very much. She was just six at the time. I’ve never regretted the decision. I feel like I am where I need to be,” Todaro said.