A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Bob Phelps

A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Bob Phelps

Sitting in his classroom, complete with video camera, brand new Mac Desktops and a soundproof booth, it is clear to see why students cannot wait to have class with Bob Phelps. Phelps, our next Valpo Life in the Spotlight, is the Video Production Instructor at the Porter County Career Center, where he has been teaching for seven years.

“What’s cool about the Career Center is that they don’t want teachers. They want professionals with experience. So instead of being taught business or mechanics from a teacher, you’re being taught by people who’ve owned businesses or have been mechanics. Students respond well because they know you’re an expert.”

Phelps, who grew up in Detroit and attended Ball State for Telecommunications and was the school mascot.

Phelps is a big fan of the hometown feel that Valparaiso offers, but is an even bigger fan of the Career Center.

“I could go on forever about how awesome the Career Center is. The attitude of my students, though, is my favorite thing. They come here ready to learn. We’re more of a college school, and they like that fresh, new atmosphere. We run like a small college, but without the huge tuition. They realize it’s an opportunity, and they treat it like such. You won’t find another faculty that works as well as together, and with students, as we do.”

As a Career Center instructor, Phelps urges his students to continue learning outside of the classroom. As an avid leader, he’s had several students work for ValpoLife, where he contributes himself every so often. He also takes his class to compete in film contests.

“We compete every year and we always do well. It’s fun. Two years ago we won the ‘Television School of the Year’ from the Indiana Association of Student Broadcasters. It isn’t me winning an award though, it’s my students.”

Bob-Phelps-2As a former board member for the Indiana Lupus Foundation and an avid supporter of the Boys & Girls Club and the United Way, Phelps is particularly involved in the community. However, he’s a massive investor in his students and their work.

“Students have a lot of opportunities here to work with real clients outside of class, like ValpoLife. We aren’t just playing with technology. We’re learning to use technology the right way so they can get a job. The have a variety of decisions to make, they always have choices. This is a good way for them to express themselves creatively with technology.”

The best thing about the Career Center classes, Phelps said, is that students can work in their field while in college.

“We have students who have won video or film contests. They don’t have to wait until after college to do this either. They can do it right after high school. You have to know more than you do, and they learn that here.”

Phelps, who is passionate about the community and helping others, had a piece of advice for students, or anyone living in Valpo.

“People always say ‘My vote doesn’t matter, I don’t get a say,’ but in a community this size, it’s really easy to see how a person can make a positive impact.”

With his experience, passion for teaching and community-oriented mindset, Bob Phelps is definitely a Valpo Life in the Spotlight.