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Sabbatical opportunity leads North Harris College professor from classroom to Law Enforcement Academy

Glenn Ware, PhD., has spent the last 22 of his 58 years, sharing his knowledge and enriching the lives of his students at North Harris College. Prior to that, he had taught at what is now Texas A&M at Corpus Christi and Louisiana State University at Monroe.

“I like the classroom,” said Ware. “I love what I do and I’m passionate about teaching.”
So, why would someone in the prime of their career want to leave the comfort of the familiar for something totally unknown and as rigorous and demanding as NHMCCD’s Law Enforcement Academy…where he would be 18 years older than his oldest classmate?

For Ware, it was all about learning something new and wanting to refresh his perspective of his students and their challenges. It was also about getting back to the classroom–from the other side of the desk, so to speak.

“The college provides us with the sabbatical opportunity,” said Ware as he reconstructed the path leading to his enrollment in the Law Enforcement Academy. “As a member of the criminal justice faculty, I wanted an experience that would be beneficial to me, personally, but also to the college and to our department.

“As a faculty, we’ve been looking at the question of how students–who go to the Law Enforcement Academy with a goal of earning additional credentials in criminal justice–can earn academic credit for their time at the academy,” the professor explained. “In my mind, the best way to understand what goes into Academy training was to actually go through the program.”
Was Ware’s wife – who teaches occupational therapy at Kingwood College–stunned to see her husband decide to enroll in the Law Enforcement Academy?
“When I worked at the state prison in Huntsville, my wife worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, so she always has been and continues to be very supportive of my career decisions,” he said.

So, after many years of lecturing, making assignments and grading papers, Ware left the classroom last February 12 and began life as a cadet at the North Harris Montgomery County College District’s Law Enforcement Academy at Parkway Center, a journey that will culminate July 17 with graduation exercises and the opportunity to take the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) requirements for a Peace Officer certification.

Debra Pruitt, NHMCCD’s Law Enforcement Academy program manager, described Ware’s participation at the Academy as a cadet as “intimidating at first.” 

“It’s different when you’re teaching a group of people not familiar with the educational process versus someone who has spent their lives involved in the educational process,” Pruitt explained. “When Glenn decided to attend the Academy, we talked–prior to his joining the class. He wanted to be treated like any other cadet and, basically, that’s how we did it. We didn’t cut Glenn any slack,” she added.

Has the professor-cadet’s time away from teaching been worthwhile?

“First of all, the bonding that’s taken place among the 22 members of this class at the Academy has been amazing and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Ware said.

Then he becomes more introspective. “I expected an awful lot, coming here, but it has been much more than I expected,” the professor pointed out.  

“Nobody skates through this program,” he continued. “The instructors here are exceptional including officers who come in and teach who are outstanding. I don’t think they’re doing it for the money as much as because they just love doing it.

“I’m not going through the Academy to go out and get a police job,” he added. “I plan to keep my dream job, which is teaching at NHC…although I would to love to volunteer at the college as a peace officer if I was ever needed.”

Has being a cadet and going through the Academy changed Ware?

“I can’t say I’ve had any major changes in my beliefs about due process or my philosophy,” he said. “I suppose if there’s any change, I have a greater appreciation, not only for what police officers have to go through but also what they have to do. I have gone though the mechanics of arrest – those are things I didn’t know. What they do on the street and what they do on a daily basis. It’s not what’s on TV. It’s very challenging.

“Also, I probably have more empathy for students,” he added. “I haven’t been a student since 1983. I’m not saying I didn’t have empathy, but I would like to believe when I get through this it will help my future teaching.”

During his time at the Academy, Ware’s fellow cadets have called him “Doc,” out of respect for his doctoral degree and his position as a professor, but his age and academic standing didn’t hinder the bond that has developed.

“I’ve really enjoyed the bonding and the overall experience has really been a great adventure,” the professor admitted. “The most fun for me has been getting information I can use in class–and I realize, that’s not fun for everybody. I’ve also enjoyed the training and the things I haven’t done before…and  I’ve enjoyed the physical part.

“Normally, in my classroom, I deal with the concepts of criminal justice,” he explained. “Here, I deal with practicalities and how to apply them, so I’ve really enjoyed the hands-on aspect while being a student and working with the Academy’s teachers and the students.”

But, in spite of the bonding that has occurred among the cadets at the Academy, the criminal justice professor remains aware of the differences between him and his fellow cadets. “My fellow students have to work other jobs–they work all night and come to class during the day,” Ware pointed out. “Thanks to the sabbatical program at North Harris College, I haven’t had to work while I’ve attended the Academy.

Another difference has come in the form of finances. As two-income empty-nesters, Ware and his wife don’t necessarily have the concerns of his Academy classmates who may just be starting their families and establishing their homes.

Ware said he wouldn’t mind carrying his commission when he returns to his classroom at North Harris, particularly if his help was needed during special events. But, this experience has also helped him set another new goal: “One thing I want to continue doing,” he said, “and that’s taking courses. I want to remain a student as long as I teach…simply because it provides me with yet another perspective.” 

The Law Enforcement Academy, which held its first class in 1992, offers cadet classes 660 hours of training. This includes all the laws and statutes pertaining to the law enforcement officer’s job, such as the Texas Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Texas Family Code and the Health and Safety Code. Training involves the use of firearms, procedures for arrest, law enforcement driving, field sobriety testing and crisis intervention techniques.
Pruitt said she is now accepting applications for the next cadet class, which will begin on August 27. Daytime classes are available and meet for 40 hours per week. The evening program, which is a part-time program, offers classes Monday through Thursday from 6 to10 p.m. For additional information, call 281.260.3599 or visit to http://lea.nhmccd.edu.

North Harris College is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one-half mile south of FM 1960 East, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. Registration for summer and fall 2007 is now in progress. For more information about the college, call 281.618.5400 or visit northharris.lonestar.edu.

NHMCCD, among the five largest and fastest growing community colleges in Texas, comprise, Cy-Fair College, Kingwood College, Montgomery College, North Harris College, Tomball College, six satellite centers, and The University Center.



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