TORRINGTON – English and Spanish professor, John Nesbitt, has retired from Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) after teaching at the institution for the past 40 years.
Nesbitt began teaching at EWC in 1981 after accepting the job and moving to Torrington from California. He grew up in a rural town in the Sacramento Valley, which was also a small agricultural community similar to Torrington.
“I grew up in California in an agricultural rural background very much like this,” Nesbitt said. “When I came here to live, it was very much like where I had grown up. It wasn’t a big culture change or anything like that.”
Nesbitt became aware of his desire to be a teacher when he went to a career fair at his high school when he was in tenth grade. After going to the presentation about teaching, it reconfirmed his desire.
When Nesbitt moved to Torrington, he already had some experience teaching at colleges in California. He taught at a few different community colleges and a few unique situations such as a state prison and naval shipyard. He also taught one semester at a state college in California.
During his 40-years of teaching at EWC, Nesbitt taught English the entire time and spent the last 28-years teaching Spanish and English courses.
“I went to [University of Wyoming] and did more Spanish work there and then became the Spanish instructor,” Nesbitt said. “About six years later when I was up for a sabbatical, I took a sabbatical and studied in Mexico. That was quite a significant experience for my professional development.”
As a Spanish instructor, Nesbitt mainly taught Spanish one and two, but did teach a few conversation classes as well. He also took three different student groups to study abroad in Mexico.
In the time Nesbitt was at EWC, he taught a wide array of English classes. Some of the classes he taught were: Applied Technical Writing, some basic writing classes, composition and various literature courses.
Throughout his 40-years at EWC, Nesbitt taught many students who would go on to become parents and he then got the opportunity to teach their kids as well.
“I had many people whose parents were students of mine,” Nesbitt said. “I can think of three students in recent years where I taught both of their parents.”
The main thing that kept Nesbitt going was the relationships he developed with his students and it’s something he’s going to miss during retirement.
While Nesbitt was busy teaching English and Spanish courses at EWC, he still found the time to write some novels and short stories and academic writing.
Nesbitt has currently had 50 books published and plans to continue writing during his retirement. Most of his published work is fiction, but he does have academic work published as well. His most recent novel is called Great Lonesome and was published in 2020. He mainly writes about the American West and their relationship with the landscape.
Now that Nesbitt will be settling down and enjoying retired life, he plans to continue to work on his writing and producing more novels. He also wants to spend some more time outdoors and at his cabin in northern Wyoming.
Nesbitt will also be able to spend more time with his family in retirement. His wife is Rocio, who he met on a trip to Mexico in the state of Chihuahua. They also have one son together, Dimitri, who is in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
When Nesbitt thought back on the things, he’ll miss about being a professor while in retirement, he spoke about how he’ll miss his students and the various social interactions with faculty and staff.
“Even though I didn’t spend a lot of time in other peoples’ offices or down in the cafeteria drinking coffee, one certainly misses the pleasant social contact because it was a really pleasant place to work. I’ll miss the day in day out student contact and watching that little light go on in students.”
Another thing Nesbitt reminisced about, was how different students behave in the classroom now and instead of when he first began teaching 40-years ago. He spoke about how students used to have their book out on their desk ready to go for class, but now students are buried in their cell phones.
For the past five years, Nesbitt had often thought about retirement, but never wanted to pull the trigger on retiring until this year.
“I was thinking about it at 30-years and then 35-years because I was into the traditional retirement age by then,” Nesbitt said. “For the last five-years I thought ‘well you know, sooner or later I’m going to have to make this move’ I thought if I’m going to be able to do other things, I’d have enough time to do other things while I still have mobility and health.”
Nesbitt wanted to thank the EWC community and his former students for all of their support and hard work over the past 40-years. He’s enjoyed his time at the college and expects he will still interact with EWC and the community even in retirement.
“It’s been a great 40-years and I’ve liked every bit of it,” Nesbitt said. “My students know there was mutual appreciation, and I was happy for that. I’ll still interact in the community and expect that I’ll still interact with the college in some way.”