Dr. Ruth Ellen Porter

“She was also the first person to see small-town me—thus, helping me to see myself—as an academic with exceptional intelligence and talent.”
— Barbara Jo Scott, successful business owner

Dr. Ruth Ellen Porter has a deep and broad educational background.  She holds a Ph.D. degree in comparative literature with concentrations in Russian, Spanish and American literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She also holds a master’s degree in English Writing from Hollins University.  Additionally, she holds undergraduate degrees in communication, biology, and English, and she is a certified TESOL instructor.

Professionally, Dr. Porter has served as Dean of the School of Arts and Professional Studies at South Georgia State College where she also held faculty rank as a tenured professor in English and Spanish.  Prior to this position, she was Director of Academic Services at Jacksonville State University where she was responsible for assessment and strategic planning for the College of Arts and Sciences at JSU.  In addition to her work with state supported institutions, Dr. Porter served private education for many years.  She has held tenured faculty positions in English and Modern Languages at both Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri and Brewton-Parker College in Mt. Vernon, Georgia.  She was also Director of the Honors Program and Interim Chair of Humanities at Culver-Stockton College.  At Brewton-Parker College she was the Grace Lorentzen-Hyatt Chair of English, Professor of Modern Languages, and Chair of the Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Porter’s wide-ranging academic studies include research in medieval languages and literature, linguistics, and literary theory.  She received an NEH award to study the integration of regional culture into the academic curriculum, presenting theoretical and practical papers that emerged from that study.  Deeply committed to teaching, she has been honored with numerous teaching awards.

Dr. Porter is a proud native of Virginia who enjoys regional history, old houses, music, and antiques in her spare time.  She is an avid and eclectic reader with very wide-ranging tastes.  She is married, the mother of two grown children and grandmother to Gracie and Owen.

View Dr. Porter’s curriculum vitae.

“Ruth Ellen Porter has a genuine and contagious passion for human excellence.”
— Mark Ezra Stokes, current Narrative Consultant

Dr. William P. Denni

Dr. Denni was a first generation college student since neither of his parents attended college.  He grew up in a military family so he attended different schools in different locations every three to four years until he graduated high school.  Bill owes his first awareness of and his then budding interest in other languages to living in Puerto Rico and attending a navy elementary school.  He learned to read before entering public school, and his parents eagerly bought him books and his father taught Bill much about his passion, science.  During those early years of elementary school he spent as much time learning outside of school as he did in school.  He looked through his father’s microscope at slides, studied models that his father put together of cells and the human body, and plotted the movements of the four largest moons of Jupiter looking through his father’s telescope.  In short, with guidance he developed a desire to learn and learned how to educate himself. To this day, he still believes the most important learning skills are those which enable one to be responsible for one’s own learning.  And he believes the best educators are coaches who show their students what to do, how to do it, and then challenge and test them with practice, inspiring them go beyond what they thought might accomplish.

He began his college career thinking that he might eventually end up teaching foreign languages to elementary students, a goal based on his personal experience.  And as he continued his college career, Bill never doubted that he would eventually become a teacher of some kind due to his innate desire to share what he had learned with others and to help people in general.  Due to timing and twists of fate my university career ended up being longer than he ever imagined, so that by the time he finished his coursework for a doctorate in Comparative Literature he had already completed a bachelor and masters degree in German with a minor in Russian and the coursework for a second masters degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities (English, Philosophy, and Art).

Because of his wide interests and qualifications he has been fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a variety of subjects in the humanities throughout his career.  Bill has also had the personal satisfaction of having the opportunity to guide and coach students in many settings.  He has taught writing and literature to students both in the United States and abroad, many of whom were the best and the brightest in their fields.  At two private liberal arts colleges in rural areas of the United States, he taught traditional and non-traditional aged students writing, literature, and languages.  Bill has always found opportunities to connect with local public schools and to offer workshops for elementary, middle, and high school students. He has been invested and involved specifically in student support and success at every college where he has worked, and he served as the director for academic support and success.

Having recently moved to Virginia to be close to family, he is enjoying teaching first year high school Spanish to select eight graders at two middle schools in Augusta County.

View Dr. Denni’s curriculum vitae.

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