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Following God Down an Unconventional Road with Michael Granchukoff, Ph.D.

Michael Granchukoff, Ph.D.’s road to Jessup was anything but ordinary. As a successful restaurant manager, he helped usher Boudin SF into the Sacramento area. But after a few years, Michael felt God telling him he could make a greater eternal impact as an educator. Today, Michael mentors and oversees graduate students as they pursue careers in teaching and school administration. It’s a pleasure to welcome Michael to our Q&A discussion today.

How many years have you taught at Jessup? 

3 years

What classes do you teach?

I am a Research Coordinator in the School of Education. I oversee the capstone thesis and research projects including thesis defense and symposium.

I am also a Master of Arts in Education Coordinator in the School of Education. I oversee the Masters in Education program and Administrative Services credential for future principals, directors, superintendents, etc.

Briefly describe your path to teaching.

I didn’t start out in education. I received my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and worked as a restaurant manager. However, I realized that I could make a greater eternal impact as an educator and followed God’s calling into teaching. Four years later, I was in a Ph.D. program. I became the mathematics department chair at my school and shortly thereafter, the lead mathematics instructor for an adult education program. I am thankful God led me down this unconventional road. I am now the Master of Arts in Education Program Coordinator and Research Coordinator at Jessup.

How have you successfully transitioned your traditional classes to remote classes during COVID?

A lot of people think you can just take your content/lectures and easily reformat them online. However, if we want to have an interactive and engaging class, we have to change our approach. I love the quick features in Zoom, especially breakout rooms. It allows the students to break up into random or assigned groups quickly that I can briefly join. To increase engagement, I also put a lot of emphasis on participation. Zoom allows me a variety of creative ways to encourage participation. I tell my students, “Be prepared to volunteer, be randomly selected, or called on multiple times each class.”

What’s unique about your online teaching style?

I try to minimize PowerPoint and limit screen share time. I want to see my students’ faces as we discuss important topics. There are some classes like Data Analysis and Research Statistics & Analytical Inquiry where this is more difficult, but breaking out of PowerPoint for even a few minutes to discuss what we just went over can make a huge difference! It is my goal to have, as much as possible, a personal learning experience.

What do you like most about the online learning mode at Jessup?

Just like anywhere in life, we have to adjust and remain flexible. Instead of focusing on how online learning is unlike face-to-face classes, I prefer to look at the advantages that online learning allows. Breaking into and back out of groups for a large class discussion now takes seconds instead of minutes and there is no longer a “front” or “back” of the class. Everyone is on equal footing and expected to participate the same. With online learning, students cannot “hide” in the back. I love to use this as an opportunity to draw students out.

How can a student get the most out of an online learning experience?

I like to keep things simple. Be prepared by reading/reviewing the online content for the week, complete the class assignments, and be prepared to discuss/interact in every class. I am not here to talk at you. I want to learn/discover/grow with you.

In addition to teaching at Jessup, do you (did you) have another career?

I was a restaurant manager and part of that was helping bring Boudin SF into the Sacramento area. We opened the first location in Loehmann’s Plaza and the rest is history. A few years later, I became a full-time doctoral student and started researching/writing my dissertation. I was also the mathematics department chair having my prep period bought out (working 1.33 full-time load) and lead mathematics instructor for an adult education program. I still cannot believe my busy schedule!

I want to let students know that they are capable of doing so much more than they realize. They may need to sacrifice to reach their goals, but difficult times only last for a short season. It’s important to be faithful and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

How are you using your “real-world” experience to help students in your program?

The goal of each class is to demonstrate how learning can be used in “real-life.” Education needs to be grounded in reality or it loses so much of its impact. While preparing for every class and every lesson, I ask myself, “How will the students be able to use this in their lives?” Therefore, whenever possible, I have moved away from exams and toward projects, papers, and presentations. I love encouraging students to think and stretch beyond their comfort zones.

How do you integrate faith into an online learning environment?

Working at a Christian university like Jessup is one of the joys of my career. I love asking questions like, “How can we demonstrate Christ’s love in this situation?” Sometimes I see students visibly jolted as they are forced to think about the issue from a Christian character perspective. It is a great way to get students to move out of an “us-versus-them” mindset and into an eternal perspective.

What three people (dead or alive) would you invite to a dinner party?

Jesus

Job

Nadia (my wife)

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