The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Bobbi Stringer-NW Campus

By Joshua Knopp/entertainment editor

Thirty-five years ago, Bobbi Stringer was a single, unemployed mother of three.

Now, she’s a winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching.

Stringer didn’t have TCC in mind when she landed her first teaching job. Gaining her bachelor’s in education a year after her husband’s death, she immediately began teaching English and reading to sixth and seventh graders at Keller Middle School (now Bear Creek Intermediate School), where her husband had been its first principal.

Larry Phillips had been working toward his doctorate in education, and the plan was for Stringer to go for her own once they were finished having children.

Stringer taught for six years following his death, acquiring a master’s degree in the process.

“The only way to get a raise was a master’s, and with three kids …” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

Because Stringer had to rush through her bachelor’s degree, she wasn’t able to take the speech classes she wanted. To have them count toward a degree, she got her master’s in communication instead of education. This qualified her to teach at TCC.

Stringer had taught night classes as an adjunct for two years when a temporary full-time position became available in spring 1990.

She was overjoyed when she got the position.

“I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” she remembered. “I felt that God had said, ‘Open your hand, I have a gift for you,’ and the gift was teaching at TCC.”

When the position became permanent, she had the inside track to maintain it. She did — for 20 years until her retirement last spring.

Stringer still frequents TCC, now as a dance student on NE Campus. This isn’t her first semester taking dance. She was one of the first members of the dance program started on NW Campus 10 years ago.

“I have known Bobbi for 12 years. It is always a pleasure to work with her as a student,” said Linda Quinn, who founded the NW dance program and continues to be Stringer’s dance teacher on NE. “She is a real role model and leader in the classroom.”

Stringer is proud of her accomplishments as a dance student.

“I’ve been in every one of the NW dance concerts since then [the program’s inception],” she said. “Even the one after I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”

That diagnosis in April 2002, instead of prompting a frenzied medical harrowing, signified the beginning of a spiritual rite of passage.

“It was one of the most beautiful spiritual times of my life because I really felt the presence of the Lord,” Stringer said. “As a Christian, I believe that when I die, I will go to heaven, and it really forced me to examine whether it was just something I had been taught or something I actually believed.”

Religion is a large part of Stringer’s life. Having experienced breast cancer and the loss of her spouse, Stringer said her faith is one of the primary things that pulled her through.

Stringer had surgery that May and followed it up with chemotherapy all summer.

“I’ve not had any further complications,” she happily reported.

Stringer said that TCC changed her life in three main respects, the first being that it prompted her to finally finish her doctorate.

Just as higher education meant a higher pay in middle school, it meant the same in college.

“I loved going [back] to school,” she said. “I love teaching, and I love learning.”

The second respect was being on educational committees.

“It definitely helped me become a better educator,” she said. “I learned things about TCC and about higher education.”

The third respect, Stringer says, has been learning from students.

“We built a relationship. She built a relationship with all her students,” said Faith Hill, one of Stringer’s former students. “She was always listening to the students, and she liked their ideas.”

Kristi Johnson took one of Stringer’s distance learning classes.

“She really made me secure in myself, and it’s helped me go on,” she said. “What she brings out in students helped her continue being the teacher that she is and maybe even bettering herself.”

Stringer said she is particularly fond of alternative students because they truly seem to appreciate their second chance.

“Last spring, I had a gang member. I had several recovered addicts. … You just want to say, ‘Yeah, go, go, you can do it!’”

Stringer and her second husband, David, who will celebrate their 30th anniversary Dec. 13, attend Gateway Church in Southlake, where Stringer teaches a Bible study class and a grief recovery class. She also participates in the dance team that the church has hosted for the past six years.

“God comforts us so that we may comfort other people,” Stringer said. “I’m a blessed woman. I’m a very blessed woman.”

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