By William Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Walking into an office for an interview with a professor at any university can seem like a daunting experience. However, a professor who is leaning back in his chair with his feet resting on an opened drawer, eating food, with a smile on his face would help to put just about anyone at ease. This kind of relaxed, approachable, and open demeanor is exactly what one can expect to find when meeting Nathaniel Minton, a professor at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF).
Minton, better known as Teal to most of those on campus, is an English professor with a focus in Creative Writing. He is laid back and his attitude toward students makes his students feel that he is open and approachable. Minton has only been a professor at UMF for 2 ½ years, or five semesters, yet as a teacher, his classes, and his friendly disposition have gained him a lot of attention. Brian Gadberry, a fifth year senior majoring in Art, seems to agree saying that he feels Minton has a “less authoritative air about him.” Gadberry continues, saying, “He is really interesting and easy to talk to. He seems like he genuinely cares and this makes it so easy to talk to him.” Gadberry has taken several classes with Minton and is currently working on his second independent study with him.
Minton carries a full teaching course-load: English 101, Genre Writing, and several Literature classes. The one that he seems to be most known for is his Screenwriting classes. Minton has written many screenplays, some of which have even gone on to be full-length feature films. “Honestly, I never really focused much on Teal as a professional, he doesn’t really bring up the things he has done and his accomplishments but rather the ideas and things he has learned from doing them,” said Gadberry, who goes on to say that the air Minton portrays is one of knowledge as well as experience on the subject. The way he teaches his students about screenwriting makes his understanding of the subject apparent. According to Gadberry, Minton doesn’t show off because he really doesn’t need to.
Ask Minton about screenwriting and his eyes seem to light up. The energy in the room sparks as he explains that screenwriting is his favorite subject to teach. “I like screenwriting because it is a highly refined form and the work of the teacher is to teach the form. There are a whole bunch of rules in screenwriting, all of which can be broken. You just have to learn them all first,” said Minton. He comments on how he enjoys how all of his students write their own screenplay. For him one of the best parts is the finished product. “It is wonderful to see their sense of accomplishment and ownership when they have finally finished writing,” said Minton.
Originally going to Film School, Minton quickly realized that that was not the path he wanted to take. Film school he realized was more “technical and less creative” than he had originally thought. “Being a person of creative interest” Minton decided that he needed to stretch out his education, “I started taking anything that interested me. When I graduated I had enough credits for four different majors [Psychology, Political Science, English, and Film],” recalled Minton.
According to Minton, teaching and him seem to go hand in hand. “In Grad School I was given a job as a teaching assistant having done no teaching before. I had three weeks of training and then I was thrown in the class. For the first three weeks I was incredibly nervous but halfway through the semester I realized that I really enjoyed it,” said Minton. “It was like a natural fit for me. I love helping students articulate ideas and watching them grow.”
This attitude toward teaching is one of the reasons that many students seek out his classes or return for more. “He [Teal] is definitely one of the reasons that kept me here at the school this last year,” said Gadberry.
Minton’s love for teaching is actually the deciding factor in his decision to be a professor instead of following a screenwriting career. “I like teaching so much. Teaching seems to feed my writing; it doesn’t impede but feeds my creativity. I get to talk about screenplays all day, so I am constantly thinking about that. I just love teaching and no one should teach unless they feel that way,” said Minton.
For Teal coming to UMF wasn’t a decision he made himself, “I like to think we chose each other,”said Minton.