First Professor of the Week nominee, Dr. Andrew Conteh is respected as much in his community as he is in the classroom. The political science professor uses his rare moments of free time assisting the community he lives in.
He is effectionately known by neighborhood children as “The Apple Man.” The kids are always welcome to pick apples at the Conteh residence. He also shares all his produce with neighbors.
“I have about five apple trees. I take good care of them for the children in the neighborhood. In the summer, I am an important guy. They call me the Apple Man. It’s good for the kids.”
Conteh volunteers in the community whenever possible. He helps in his church and volunteers as an election judge. Students enrolled in Conteh’s classes are expected to consider their roles in the community and how they can help.
“We should not only be collectors of benefits. We have to be givers. When much is expected, much has to be given,” Conteh said.
Education has played an important role in Conteh’s life. He said he feels it is his duty to share education with others.
The Sierra Leone native grew up in a town without a school. He had to travel to a neighboring town to attend school. Conteh emphasizes the importance of education by being a living example.
“If it had not been for education, I might not be around. That’s why I will never deny people the right to be educated,” Conteh said.
Conteh’s views on education landed him in the teaching profession after many successful years served as Sierra Leone ambassador to the Soviet Union. For Conteh, education is as much a means of survival as it is a tool.
“To be educated is a tool of liberation. A tool that provides opportunities. A tool that can be used to cultivate friendships and understanding,” Conteh said. “It can be used to fight prejudices and discrimination.”
Conteh said contributing to student achievement is one of the most rewarding parts of teaching. Many of his advisees have gone on to have successful careers. Cory Elmer, a leading Vogel Law attorney and Greg Lemke, director of public safety are some of his outstanding pupils.
Besides basic coursework, Conteh teaches students to question everything, evaluate themselves, and persevere. Above all, he said he hopes that students will help those in need.
“I hope students realize they are privileged to come here and at the end of the day, they don’t forget about the less fortunate in their communities,” Conteh said.
BY SARAH TYRE