Emerging writer Scott D. Vander Ploeg began climbing his second-mountain as a creative writer in September of 2020, after a 30-year career as a college professor of writing and literature and various other subjects. He earned the Ph. D. in british renaissance lyric poetry in 1993, under the guidance of John T. Shawcross at the U of KY. He wrote and recorded ~120 essays for his regional NPR affiliate, WKMS, Murray KY, and a solid 100 articles about the humanities for his local hometown newspaper, the Madisonville Messenger. In 2009, he was named college professor of the year in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Scott studied English at Purdue U in 1976 after beginning in Pre-med and not liking it at all. He planned on teaching high-school, but was invited by the department chair, Jacob Adler, in his senior year to work on his MA there, which he began in 1980. He had become a big fan of Dr. Clayton Lein, a Renaissance scholar and expert in Sir Isaac Walton, among others, including John Donne, the subject of a graduate seminar he taught and Scott sat for. Scott began teaching basic writing classes under the mentorship of Dr. Janice Lauer, a proponent of the process approach to writing. This was employment in a teaching assistanceship, which covered tuition and added subsistance pay. Over time, he was allowed to teach English for foreign students (ESL), Business Writing, and a couple of correspondence courses in surveys of British Literature. Scott continued in this line of teaching when he shifted to the U of Kentucky, where he also taught courses in Amereican Literature.
His first full-time teaching position was at Madisonville Community College, which was part of the U of Kentucky (University of Kentucky Community College System, UKCCS) till the mid-1990s, when it shifted to an independent set of institutions and merged with the state's technical schools, becomming the Kentucky College and Technical College System, KCTCS. He began at MCC in the fall of 1988, and stayed there for the next 30 years, advancing from Instructor and Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, and finally was awarded Full Professor status in the mid-1990s. Scott had a five-course teaching load, per semester. Course capacities were targeted at 25 students, but could climb to 30 or more. Typically they hovered between 18 and 28. It was common for him to teach to over a hundred students per semester. Typically four of his five courses were composition--writing--the odd other course some brand of literature.
This is a list of the coursed Scott taught over the years: (They are presented here because they may suggest topics about which he could be called upon to write or speak about.)
Creative Writing: Nonfiction
Intermediate (advanced) Writing
Introduction to Literature
Survey of English Literature I and II
Survey of Western Literature I and II
Survey of American Literature I and II
Chinese Literature and Culture
Leadership Development (Humanities-based)
Creative Writing (for Kentucky Governor's Scholars program)
Intro to Theatre (for Kentucky Governor's Scholars program)
Special Topics: Shakespeare
Introduction to Film Studies
[Some of these are detailed in Volunteering, below.]
Coach / Sponsor, Madisonville Community College Academic Team 1989-1994 (institutional service)
Lead Coordinator, Madisonville Great Books Discussion Group, 1989-1998
Chair, Steering Committee, Tradewater / Lower Green Rivers Watershed Watch, 2000-2010
Chair, Hopkins County - Madisonville Public Library Foundation Committee
Board Member, Kentucky Humanities Association, 2000-2006
Chair, Humanities Division, Madisonville Community College, 2009-2012
Department Chair, Humanites Division, 2012-2014
Though his college included a required community service component, Scott provided more of such than was necessary to meet this obligation.
The Watershed Watch project involved going to two-to-four streams three times a year over a twelve year period, to test the waters and collect samples for lab analysis. He trained trainers in water assessment protocols, assisted in coordinating the annual data review meeting, spoke to local government to request funding, and wrote letters to the editor promoting the group. He is proud to have provided data that the local EPA officer used to correct over two-dozen problems in his county.
Before he Chaired the Public Library Foundation Committee, for a year, he served as the recording secretary, taking minutes from the meeting and writing them up (in a fashion that amused the members while covering the important work of the committee).
His work in providing literary discussions in his small town involved promoting the group activity and inviting new members, reading and preparing to discuss the selections, using the Books Shared Inquiry method, and meeting monthly for two-hour long discussion sessions.
Phi Theta Kappa is the Greek name for the honor society for two-year schools. Scott became an advisor for this organization on the Madisonville campus after having submitted student names to an national recognition competition. By the mid-1990s, he took the existing chapter into a much more active status, which included frequent meetings on campus, the election of student officers, developing the honors-topic program, and taking students to the annual international convention. He attended conventions in Dallas, TX, Seattle, WA, and Nashville, TN. ln 2012 he was invited to attend the honors seminar in the British Virgin Islands, as preparation for a subsequent week-long Honors Institute in St. Louis, MO.