Joe Dymond: More than geography – a teacher, a mentor

Students experience a vast array of teachers and professors over their learning careers. But there are always those precious few who stand out – the ones who made an impact not just for the facts and skills they helped us gain, but for the knowledge, life experiences and mentorship they offered. Here, we feature two professors – Joe Dymond from the geography department, and Herman Carrillo from the English Department.

Geography professor Joe Dymond walks into the room wearing brown corduroys, a horizontally striped sweater and a watch on his left wrist. He quickly pulls down the projection screen, apologizes to the class for being four minutes late and immediately delves into a 100-slide lecture.

“That’s serious mountains we’re talking about,” Dymond says, referring to the significant impact the Caucasus Mountains have on human geography.

Dymond walks around the room of roughly 75 students, encouraging them to participate by telling them, “You guys are all budding geographers now.”

This cherished professor has been teaching geography since the mid 1990s, and came to GW in the early 2000s.

“I have to teach. When I’m off, over the summer, I miss teaching,” Dymond said. “I need to be in the classroom environment, in the classroom environment with students interested in the world. I have to teach. I found that thing – I hope everybody does – that I really enjoy doing. Teaching is not work.”

Dymond said he is hyper, and walks around the room to keep himself and his students engaged.

“I can’t just lecture in a class; I need to interact with the students and I have to have interaction. I want to hear from students. And they ask good questions, a lot of smart students, and they want to know more,” Dymond said.

Aside from the almost-perfect score Dymond received on ratemyprofessors.com, his current students are equally impressed.

“I heard about him because he came into my geography class last year and he was doing a special program over the summer, and I wasn’t able to get in that program. So, I decided to take this class and check him out. He’s an approachable professor, which is what I really like about him,” sophomore Marisa Ranieri said.

When not in the classroom, Dymond travels and writes textbooks. He said the area he is most interested in is what he called geographic identity – how people compartmentalize themselves politically, religiously and ethnically, and how and why they see themselves in these various groups.

Elizabeth Chacko, chair of the Geography Department, said when her office was across from Dymond’s, she would always see him with students.

“I would see students following him after class. I don’t think it was necessarily office hours, and students would go into his office and talk to him and he was willing to give them the time and energy,” Chacko said. “I think students look upon him not only as a professor, but as a mentor, someone they can talk to.”

For Dymond, teaching is a two-way street.

“I love interaction with students. I learn from them as they learn from me. I love students who travel, they come and visit me in my office hours and they bring flash drives of photos from their trip. I love that exchange,” Dymond said.

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