December 22, 2009
Brad Fricks: NACC Faculty Spotlight
Delivering An Important Service To Students
The faculty at Northeast Alabama Community College serve as the
principal points of contact between students and the college;
they deliver their most important service—teaching—to their
students. Brad Fricks is one such dedicated example. He has been
a full time instructor of Spanish at NACC since August, 2005.
“I think deep down, I always wanted to be a teacher,” said
Fricks. “But I took a twisted road from a major in chemical
engineering to get here. I have been greatly influenced by
teachers around me all of my life.” Fricks stated that he had
some top-notch teachers in high school, and when he went to The
University of Alabama, he had a couple of incredible Spanish
teachers that demonstrated the joy that can come from it.
Fricks grew up in Crossville, and graduated from Crossville High
School. College after high school seemed a “no-brainer” for him.
“I loved school, even in high school, and I knew that I wanted
to continue that,” he said. He had planned to be a chemical
engineer, and knew that doing that would require continuing on
to college. Also, he had very supportive parents, teachers, and
counselors that emphasized the need for a college degree.
Fricks has an undergraduate degree in Secondary Spanish
Education from The University of Alabama. His Masters degree is
in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (Spanish) from
Alabama. He has done additional graduate course work in Spanish
Literature at Auburn University. His plans are to finish his
Educational Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching from Alabama in the
summer and continue working on a PhD in the same field.
One main difference Fricks sees between students now and when he
was a student is the use of technology. “Students now are so
‘connected,’” he said. “I remember when I first went to college,
using the Internet was not a part of my daily experience. Having
a personal e-mail was a new thing, and certainly, text messaging
on cell phones did not exist. Students now can get instantaneous
information from many sources, and this affects their academic
experience in ways that I never dreamed when I first started
college,” he continued.
The success of students is of utmost importance to Fricks.
“Those students who have gone on to study languages have a
special place in my memory,” he said. “I love to hear from
students who contact me and have a question about Spanish
literature that they are studying or those students who want to
discuss the teaching profession. I suppose I consider a
successful student of mine as one who has a sense of what he/she
wants to do, and sets out to achieve that goal.”
“The thing I love most about the profession of teaching is the
complexity of it,” offered Fricks. “It is a profession that is a
perfect mixture of science and art, and my favorite part of
teaching is combining those two elements. I am most in my
element when I can review research that is being done in the
field of education and merge those research findings into a
lesson plan that is creative, interesting, and effective. Then,
the capstone of a great lesson is that ‘aha’ moment when a
student gets it and understands the goal of that particular
lesson,” he added.
If asked to recommend the profession of teaching Fricks would
say that “teaching (if you love it, and you must love it to be
successful) will be the most rewarding thing you could ever do
with your life. It is a profession that you must enter with the
intention of being the best, because in essence, you are playing
with peoples’ lives. Sometimes it will be like a rollercoaster
with huge ups and downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs.”
Fricks has several role models. “My parents are role models who
taught me what it means to work hard. They never shied away from
a job, and they are my examples for an exemplary work ethic,” he
said. Becky Rodgers, the former band director at Fort Payne High
School, is a role model that taught him to look at the big
picture while at the same time understanding that the payoff
comes in paying attention to the details.
A favorite author of Fricks is David Sedaris. “He is a humorist
and essayist who writes about the mundane, yet interesting and
often bizarre, slices of life that most of us try to sweep under
the carpet.” Another favorite is C.S. Lewis. “I have always
enjoyed being transported to a different, fantastical place with
his writings, especially with The Hobbit and The Lord
of the Rings trilogy,” he said. “My favorite
Spanish-speaking author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His
masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is a
must-read for everybody,” he added.
A series of phrases are posted on Fricks’ desk so that he is
constantly reminded of them. “They come from a book by Don
Miguel Ruiz called The Four Agreements,” he said. “They
are: ‘Be impeccable with your word,’ ‘Don’t take anything
personally,’ ‘Don’t make assumptions,’ and ‘Always do your
Fricks’ parents are Rodger and Jean Fricks of Crossville,
Alabama. He has two brothers, Brandon Fricks (Troy, AL) and
Byron Fricks (Rainsville, AL). Byron is married to Lacie Stiefel
Fricks and they have one son, Brayden.