Educators risk a rappel


Katelyn Black, Lifestyle Editor

For the College of Education and Professional Studies, rappelling down the side of Perkin’s Stadium together was much more than just a social call—it was also about testing the limits of comfort. 

“Any time spent with colleagues outside of the normal day-to-day is beneficial,” said Dr. Katy Casey,  assistant professor and dean in the College of Education and Professional Studies. “But the real benefit for our staff came out of that risk factor and from doing things that truly scared them.”

For Assistant Professor Jenna Cushing-Leubner, a first time rappeller, the experience was anything but comfortable. Yet, it was exactly that fear that helped her become a better colleague, and a better teacher.

“When I was going down the side of the stadium wall, the ROTC officer asked me if I could untangle my feet, and I firmly told him ‘No.’ This reminded me that when we’re under stress or have anxiety, we say and do things we don’t mean,” said Cushing. “As a professor to students aspiring to be teachers, I’m constantly asked why kids are so stubborn, and taking part in this reminded me of that defense mechanism in kids. Now that I understand it better, I can explain it to them.”

While Cushing’s fear was common among the other staff, even the biggest dare devils thought the climb down holding nothing but a rope was nerve wracking.

“I’ve free-fallen and skydived,” said Jonathon Spike, coordinator of Instructional Technology within the College of Education. “But it was something about tipping yourself over the edge and being suspended over nothing that made it that much more terrifying.” 

Spike, like many others who participated, found that trust and stepping out of their comfort zones proved to be the most difficult—something sophomore ROTC student Mackenzie White says is actually the key to personal improvement. 

“I’ve been lucky to have a support system where I’m not necessarily given a choice to stay in my comfort zone,” said White. “But if you never get out of your comfort zone, then you’ll never grow.”