Joseph Maire likes to stay busy. He works a part-time job for the Houston Astros, he's a Harley Davidson enthusiast, and he teaches math full time at San Jacinto College.
Not enough? He recently enrolled in the College's process technology program.
Why process technology?
Maire isn't studying process technology to switch careers to oil and gas. Instead, he enrolled to better understand the terminology and real-world applications for his industrial math class, a course offered only to process technology and instrumentation students.
"Originally, I wanted to audit some of the process technology courses, but they are so in demand that there wasn't a spot for me," Maire said. "I wanted to help the students as much as possible, so I just enrolled."
Maire's students were surprised to spot their professor on their side of the classroom. Why was he sitting there?
"I often see the students I teach, and they think it's pretty cool I'm taking the courses with them," Maire said. "I try to do all I can to make their material relevant. If I don't, I lose them fast."
Maire is taking two process technology courses alongside his full-time professor duties. He teaches college algebra, industrial math, applied physics, and — thanks to a former industrial information technology career — principles of quality for the process technology program.
"I don't know how he does it," said Ryan Martinets, department chair of math and engineering. "He works hard at everything he puts his mind to. Enrolling as a student again shows his dedication to his students' success not only in the classroom but also in their careers."
Where did it begin?
Originally from northeastern Ohio, Maire landed a computer programmer job with Brown and Root in Houston in 1978. After two layoffs in six months, he decided to change careers. With his wife and daughter both working in education, he considered teaching and enrolled full time at San Jac at 45. But what did he want to teach?
"There were some subjects I wasn't interested in teaching and some I didn't like. I landed on math after a process of elimination," Maire said. "I found myself in a college algebra class at seven in the morning, and I thought, 'What have I gotten myself into?'"
Most of Maire's classmates had just come from high school with math fresh on their minds. For him, there was a bit of catching up to do. Eventually finding the College's tutoring center, Maire succeeded and became a tutor himself after his first semester. There he flexed his teaching skills for the first time.
"Not everyone learns the same way, and you have to have a backup plan," he said. "Tutoring helped me try out different teaching styles and learn what works for each student."
After graduating from San Jac and completing his bachelor's degree at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Maire returned to the College as a part-time college prep faculty member. Now holding a master's degree in instructional technology, Maire is looking forward to his next graduation with an Associate of Applied Science in process technology.
"I'm taking only a few classes at a time, so I don't anticipate graduating for a few years," he said. "My goal is to walk across the commencement stage as the oldest graduate."