Ken Sell, adjunct faculty member and previous practicing mental health professional, agreed to let me turn the tables on him by asking him all the questions. As one of the most popular instructors at Minnesota School of Business-Rochester, sharing what he has to say could be therapeutic to all readers. Due to Ken’s gift of gab, this is the first of two installments. Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about what led you to teaching…
Before getting into teaching, I was actually a stay-at-home dad for my daughter. This was part by choice and part by circumstance. My wife and I moved to Rochester so my wife could pursue her career and take a job with the Mayo Clinic (they made her an offer we could not refuse). While a great move for her, it was a terrible move for me. No one wanted to hire me (I wallpapered our dining room with the rejection letters I received), so we made the choice for me to stay at home with my daughter since she was so young. Then, I saw an ad for a psychology instructor in the local newspaper and I applied. I was always interested in teaching and was desperate for a job. I did not hear anything back for about two months so assumed my application made it into the circular filing cabinet. Then, out of the blue, I received a telephone call from MSB asking if I would be interested in teaching an Introduction to Psychology course. After working for MSB for about four years now, I think I have found my niche in teaching.
MSB knows you as Ken the instructor. But many others know you as Mr. Sell, the therapist. Tell us more about your professional past…
Prior to moving to Rochester, I worked in the mental health field for 23 years. You name it, I’ve done it. I have done individual counseling, group therapy, family therapy, marriage counseling, crisis intervention, case management, court work, worked in a day treatment program, and did utilization review. I was also, briefly, the coordinator for a domestic violence program.I probably treated every disorder known to the mental health profession with an emphasis on adults. I have treated major depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic disorders, personality disorders, and schizophrenia. My first job out of college was in a psychiatric hospital for schizophrenics.
At one time, for the county I worked at in California, everyone on my caseload was locked up in a psychiatric hospital. I was in private practice for a brief period while living in Maryland. There, I began treating men with pornography addictions. Over the years, I developed an interest in and some expertise with personality disorders – specifically borderline and dependent personalities. Little did I know that all this mental health experience would prepare me well for teaching. I obtained two professional counseling licenses: one in California as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and another in Tennessee as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). I have since retired these two licenses since I am no longer in practice and have no need of them. I am doubtful I would get back into the mental health profession since I enjoy teaching so much.
Speaking of teaching, what do you enjoy most about it? How does your background and experience lend itself to the success you have had in the classroom?
1. I enjoy interacting with the students, especially informally and in a mentoring fashion;
2. I enjoy imparting what I know and what I have learned about my profession through all my years of work;
3. I enjoy seeing students get excited about the subjects and material I teach;
4. I enjoy hearing that students improved the quality of their lives through their knowledge of psychology that I taught;
5. I enjoy hearing that students benefitted in some way from the knowledge they gained from my classes;
6. I enjoy the fun (sometimes) I have in my classes and hearing that the students also enjoyed their experience and had fun as well.
Ken is a very funny and very intelligent man. He is a great instructor and really knows how to get students engaged. He also challenges his students to go above and beyond. He is without a doubt my favorite instructor.
Ken brings a unique passion, and energy to the classroom. His off-beat humor and vast knowledge makes the learning process both fun and interactive. I admire him for his thoughtful insight and willingness to see that each student fully understands the concepts of the course.
Ken is a happy, energetic instructor that keeps you involved in the class. I enjoyed having him as an instructor.