Newcastle teacher is rated among the top professors in the nation

November 1, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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On the popular website, college students have the opportunity to anonymously evaluate their instructors based on criteria including clarity and helpfulness.

It can be a useful tool as fellow students determine which classes to take, but with the anonymous nature of the site, many students don’t hold back when assessing a particular teacher. It’s not uncommon to see a long list of negative reviews by a professor’s name.

But upon inspection of Newcastle resident Dan Mitchell’s profile on the site, visitors won’t find a single antagonistic comment. Visitors will see more than 10 pages of student comments praising the Bellevue College instructor and his classes.

Dan Mitchell

The chemistry instructor was recently named one of the nation’s top professors in the country, according to the site. Mitchell came in at No. 16 on the site’s list of the top 25 highest rated professors.

Mitchell was the only instructor in Washington state named to the list.

“It’s pretty humbling to have all these students be so generous,” he said. “I’m certainly honored to receive so many nice evaluations from my students. I feel like I’ve just been lucky because there are so many people out there. Somebody’s going to get lucky. I guess I was the one.”

Mitchell, who recently moved to the Newcastle area with his family, has loved chemistry ever since high school. He began working in the research field, but he said he really found his calling when he started teaching.

“When I started teaching, it just never felt like a job,” he said. “I just love it. Teaching is something that I will do for as long as I can. I look forward to getting up and going to class, and teaching lets you have a fairly profound effect on people’s lives.”

A common sentiment among the comments posted about Mitchell is his ability to really connect with students.

“Every student is different, just like every person is different, so one of the important things for me to do is to break down barriers between myself and the student and have them feel really comfortable with coming to me to ask questions,” Mitchell said of his teaching style.

In a statement, Bellevue College interim President Laura Sanders praised Mitchell’s contributions to the school.

“We’re especially proud of Dan and the tremendous work he does in the classroom, making chemistry come alive for our students,” she said. “This ranking is a perfect example of the strong emphasis we put on exceptional teaching here at Bellevue College.”

Mitchell has worked at Bellevue College since 2008. While he said he was flattered with the ranking, he had even higher praise for his fellow instructors at the school.

“I work with so many great people,” he said. “I know there are many instructors around me, who are, I think, better instructors than I am. So, it’s hard for me to believe that ranking, because I still have a lot to learn when it comes to teaching.”

But Mitchell said he credits Bellevue College for allowing him to grow as a teacher and share his passion with others.

“Bellevue College is great,” he said. “You get to work with a lot of other instructors and so I’m constantly talking to my fellow instructors and trying to learn what I can from them.”


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