Ramona Brown ’97 found her Mennonite instructor Catherine Kaesberg intimidating yet brilliant, energetic, intense and enthusiastic—in short, the sort of teacher who demands the best of her students and gets it.
Brown, who is an intensive care nurse at Carle Hospital in Urbana, said Kaesberg’s students absorbed academic material due to her energy and intensity. “Kaesberg’s examinations were challenging, but I learned more in her medical-surgical class than any other class,” Brown said. “She showed us the importance of drug calculations, knowledge of drug interactions and awareness of patients’ allergies. She demonstrated how theory was applied to real-life situations.”
Kaesberg, who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at St. Louis University, outlined her teaching philosophy as one of trial and error. A teacher of professional nursing for 21 years, Kaesberg said she used to be “efficient, authoritative and unfortunately quite punitive.” She said a position she took as a nurse educator in a large intensive care unit was a turning point in her teaching career. As Kaesberg sat at her desk feeling “consumed by stress” and “sick and disgusted” with herself due to being treated as she had treated her own students, she began to realize the qualities of a good teacher and challenged herself to change her attitude and focus on the needs of others.
Kaesberg said her teaching philosophy has evolved to one which focuses on the growth of students. “A good teacher is responsible for assessing the student, designing an individualized plan for growth, administering that plan and evaluating that plan,” she said. “A teacher must be holistic at all times, taking into consideration the student’s emotional maturity and psychological status as the teaching-learning moves toward an outcome. Teachers should minimize stress for their students and provide rational perspectives that give students hope and inspiration for success in the short and long term. The instillation of passion for learning is the greatest accomplishment of all. Students can only love learning if the teaching is administered with love. Love doesn’t necessarily imply easy, but it does imply use of creativity, kindness, tenacity, intelligence and patience.”
Brown’s opinion of Kaesberg is obviously shared by many as she was awarded the Kathleen Hogan Teaching Excellence Award 11 times and nominated twice for the Illinois State University non-tenure track teaching award. Kaesberg also is a N.C.L.E.X. (nursing licensing certification test) instructor at the Kaplan Testing Center in Champaign.
Brown said Kaesberg’s enthusiastic teaching, combined with her knowledge of nursing, impacted how Brown works today. “She left me with a strong foundation. I will be forever grateful for the great education I received at Mennonite College of Nursing and for Cathi Kaesberg in particular.”