Most students enter college with no idea of the purpose of writing in school. They've never been told the purpose, only to do it. To most students, writing classes are hurdles to be cleared on the way to the more exciting courses of their academic major. They don't understand that we write to learn, and that the ability to write with some competence is necessary for academic achievement in all fields, not just freshman English -- in the sciences, history, engineering, pre-medicine, even music and math. My students learn how to take ownership of ideas by writing about them. We don't write opinion essays on hot-button issues like same-sex marriage and the death penalty, because these distract from our mission of learning grammar and rhetoric. We start with the simple subject-verb-direct object sentence and build to crafting strong, coherent paragraphs and purposeful essays.
I taught college-level composition for 12 years and now work with individuals and small groups in making writing their key to learning in all academic and professional fields. In my "Write to Learn" method I help students turn freshman composition from an ordeal to be endured into the gateway to lifelong learning. As a reporter I write on education and national economic and tax policy. I am a former daily newspaper editor.
I offer a group rate of $20 each for one hour with two students; $18 for three and $15 each for four or five. I must charge each student because I offer unlimited followup by phone or email.
Stephen M. Combs
Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida. B.A., majors in economics and accounting 1966+
Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. M.A., journalism 1981
Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. M.L.S. – Humanities with concentration in English 2015
Journalism Career Highlights
Writer, author, and editor. Purveyor of the Friday Letter subscription newsletter
Editor, The Daily Reporter, Greenfield, Indiana
Business and labor writer, The Evansville Courier
Business reporter, The Vero Beach Press-Journal
Correspondent for the Associated Press, Orlando, Florida
Other credits include Railway Age, Indianapolis Magazine, Career Pilot, Indiana Business and Industry, Orlando Business Journal, The Clarion Call, ALJ Journal, Rollins Alumni Record
Associate professor of English (adjunct), Valencia College 2008-2016
Instructor, University of Phoenix, Orlando, Florida 2004-2012
Substitute teacher, Winter Springs High School and others 2003-2006
Middle and high school teacher, English 1982-1983
Graduate teaching assistant, newswriting, Ball State University 1976
Valencia East Campus Faculty Senator (2015-2016)
Volunteer in New Student Experience at Valencia College West Campus (2015-2016)
Guest teacher at A Book’s Academy and occasional fill-in instructor, Apopka, Fla. 2014-2018
Recent professional development courses: The Flipped Classroom, Writing in the Disciplines, Writing to Learn
Publications and Activities (partial list)
“How Political Indoctrination Destroyed the Promise of Learning in College Writing Courses.” The Clarion Call. In press, scheduled for August 2018.
“In Search of a Role for First-Year Composition in the Two-Year Open-Enrollment College.” (Peer reviewed). ALJ Journal, Vol. 4, May 2016.
“Freshman Composition: Often More About Politics than Sentences.” The Clarion Call, for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, July 31, 2015.
O.J. Simpson and Glen Rogers: The Juice, Road Dog & Murder on Bundy Drive. Co-authored with John Eckberg. Barnes & Bauer, Publishers, Bloomington, Ind. Print and Kindle editions, July 2018.
Road Dog. Co-authored with John Eckberg. Investigative book on how serial killer Glen Rogers evaded police attention. Paperback edition Federal Point Publishing, January 2003. First Kindle Edition November 2011. Second and third Kindle editions, 2015.
Principal in “Smooth-Talking Devil,” an episode of Southern Fried Homicide on Investigations Discovery. Film documentary on serial killer Glen Rogers, based on Road Dog.
“Billy’s Choice” (short story). Published in an online magazine, 2010.
“A Review of Research that Compares the Value of Threaded Online Discussions with Oral Classroom Discussions.” Unpublished paper used in faculty training roundtable.
Rollins College, Then and Now. Introduction. Harmony House Publishers, 1991.
Areas of reporting and writing: Secondary and higher education policy, national tax policy. Recent activity includes copy and content editing of two books.
Frequent guest on education topics on the John Butler Book radio program, WFLF in Orlando, Florida.
Area of academic specialization and research: college composition. I follow practices advocated by such linguists as Stanley Fish, who argues that writing courses should teach grammar and rhetoric and nothing else. As such, the political ideology of the professor has no place in my classroom. Students are introduced to the idea that we write in learn, and that as we write about our subjects we begin to take ownership of their ideas. I strongly argue that writing is an important component of every academic field, including the sciences, math, music, and even the trades.
Outstanding Culminating Experience Project. Fort Hays State University, 2015.
U.S. Army (enlisted). Honorable discharge.
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