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English instructor and published author connects with students through writing

English instructor Doug Thiele has impacted students on Tidewater Community College’s Chesapeake Campus for almost two decades. A published author, Thiele knows firsthand the perils and joys of writing.

Thiele got his start writing poetry and lyrics. He has two hit songs “Almost in Love” by Dolly Parton and “Dancing Like Lovers” by Mary MacGregor.

“Since I teach composition and creative writing, clearly my attention to my own writing, editing, paragraphs and phrasing, helps me explain how to write technically,” Thiele said. “The thing that can be difficult to teach is that you have to rely on readers to fill in the blanks, to keep books to a manageable size.”

Thiele’s latest work, “Tsisqua’s Nation,” dedicated to his wife, Jo, chronicles the life of an old man who is about to die. The story has him meeting many people, doing serious soul searching and figuring out how to spend the rest of his life.

“You never really finish writing a book,” Thiele said. “You just put it out there.”

In the classroom, Thiele strives to make students interested in learning. “I see myself as a facilitator to help students realize their dreams,” he said. “And I teach on a lot of diverse subjects, while fulfilling the obligations of each course.”

Thiele says his favorite part of teaching at a community college is working with a varied student body. “I like that my students lack pretense and come with a thirst for learning and a desire to get the job done.”

He added, “Most students want to be understood. I work hard to call them by name and make those important connections.”

Thiele noted that in today’s environment of rapid-fire technology, it’s still important to learn that collecting the facts is only one step. “It’s our job to help students learn to assess and coordinate facts – otherwise the knowledge is useless.”

Another plus for Thiele is the camaraderie of the English faculty on the Chesapeake Campus. “It’s a tangible thing and one of the joys of coming to work. I look forward to it every day,” he said. Thiele is co-chair of TCC’s annual literary festival with colleagues Rick Alley and Joe Antinarella.

Thiele’s other published works include short stories and fiction novels including “Eight Lyrics,” “out back,” “Like Chinese Milk” and “Juntun.”