Featured image: Professor Moe finishes her last year at Seattle Pacific University as a General Education professor. Thurston Johnson | The Falcon
Looking back on her career as she nears retirement, Dr. Gaile Moe has much more to say about her adventures with her students, and what she has learned from them, than she does about her impressive degrees and accomplishments.
Moe has served Seattle Pacific University as director of General Education and Undergraduate Curriculum and as professor of family and consumer sciences, and looks back fondly on working through challenges with her nutrition students.
For instance, Moe remembers a chaotic moment in which her current and former students showed up to help her. The department was in the midst of remodeling the foods lab, a difficult process that was much needed at the time.
“To quote a new incoming faculty member [at the time], it looked like a bunch of little cabins,” Moe remembered, laughing. “Stuff was always breaking down. I actually spent just so much time trying to keep everything clean, tidy, working.”
The project quickly turned time-sensitive when they realized they would only have two days to pack up the entire lab. In this stressful moment, Moe called on her students to help her tackle the task.
“I got literally every student I could who was going to be close by Seattle to come help,” Moe said.
They came. Students, including some who had graduated, came flocking to help Moe, despite knowing that they would receive no compensation for their labor.
It was a daunting task; every piece of silver and glassware, all the wires and many more tedious pieces needed to be managed in a very short time. However, according to Moe, the students made the task look much less difficult than it actually was. The group enjoyed the whole project, despite how tiring and complex their task was.
“It was fun to work with a group of students on it. They were so enthusiastic. Nobody got paid a It was fun to take it apart, fun to put it together,” Moe said. “And it really shows how generous people can be with their time.”
As evidenced by her fondest memories, the thing that Moe loves most about her job is the students and faculty she gets to work with.
She began teaching in what she felt would be a natural next step as a trained dietitian. She explained that dietitians do a great deal of teaching with their patients and she felt she fit nicely the education field with that background.
“It’s sort of second nature, trying to help people understand where their food comes from,” she said.
One thing she enjoys about both teaching and nutrition is the importance of what she discusses with her students and patients, and the impact it can have.
“Not only is it teaching, but teaching about things that matter for a person’s life. That’s very satisfying,” Moe said.
The convenience of her journey to SPU is something she is grateful for. As Pacific Northwestern native, Moe wanted to keep her family in the area they loved, Seattle.
“When the position opened up, it really seemed like a gift,” Moe recalled.
As for why she stayed here, Moe’s answer was the same as it had been to her food lab problem so many years ago; she has a strong community here, with people she cares very much about.
“Really what kept me here are both the faculty and the students,” Moe explained. “There are just so many good people who work here and so many who are committed to being good teachers and good scholars, and committed to students.”
The students she worked with in nutrition and dietetics also impacted Moe’s experience here.
“They were just wonderful people, hard workers, able to be kind to one another, caring about faculty,” Moe said, with clear fondness.
As director of general education, Moe had much to say regarding the field of education and what she has learned about teaching in her long career.
“The first thing that’s really important for teaching is that kids have to know you care,” Moe said. “If they don’t know you care, their learning and success will not be as high as you want it to be.”
Finally, Moe said that it is important to remember that all classes students take are important. She credited her colleagues for teaching and guiding her students towards their goals throughout their academic careers.
“The sum is greater than the parts. And many people around students contribute to that
There’s learning to be done everywhere, and our colleagues contribute greatly to that.”