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Instructor's Corner: Mary Ellen Hoeh

Posted by Life by Design NW on July 31, 2015
May Ellen Hoeh Portland Community College CLIMB Center
Marry Ellen Hoeh has taught at Portland Community College's CLIMB center for six years, teaching both Discover, Design and Engage (DDE) and Tools for Midlife Transition. Ms. Hoeh teaches to both help facilitate change and make a positive difference in people's lives. She challenges her students to dream and create a clear vision of what they want. Learn more about Ms. Hoeh below.

What is your industry / real world experience? My background is in education, corporate training & development, executive coaching and human resources.  My current work is in the areas of life transition and positive aging. 

Why do you teach? To facilitate change and to make a positive difference in lives. 

What is your favorite part about being a teacher / instructor?  Watching the “light bulb” go on for folks; creating an environment where people feel safe to grow; facilitating connections, and hearing success stories as time goes on.  

Tell us about a time that you were most proud in your role as an instructor. When one of my former students told me a year after attending my class that she ended her abusive relationship (in which she felt trapped), had found a job that she loved, and was living the life she envisioned when she created her Vision Statement in our class. She said the course helped her clarify what she wanted, helped her believe that she could have it, and then gave her the courage to make it happen. It is also very satisfying when I receive referrals for private coaching from past students. 

What kind of transformation do you see in your students during a course?  Opening to new possibilities and realizing how exciting it is to be intentional about creating the next stage of life.  As we say, going after what you want to do rather than just what you can/are able to/ should do. Finding that direct link to one’s purpose.   

How do you think the courses you teach affect students’ lives and/or careers? Those who attend my course are typically newly retired or in a major life transition, either career or personal. The work they do in the DDE course gives them the confidence to pursue a life that is true to their values, utilizes their personal “gifts” and fulfills their needs. They have become very clear about what’s most important to them and they are not going to “settle” for anything less. As a result, they create a life where they are most likely to thrive. 

What is your favorite ah-ha moment you see during a course? There are many, but one that comes to mind is identifying personal strengths or “gifts”.  People often take these for granted and don’t realize their true value. Recognizing personal gifts, and accepting them as unique and extremely valuable establishes a sense of worth that is a direct link to understanding one’s purpose. 

What do you think students struggle the most with in this course?  Giving themselves permission to create a life based on “wants” rather than “shoulds”. 

If you could give advice to all of your future students, what would it be? 1) Dare to dream. 2) Create a clear vision of what you want and talk about it to everyone. 

How do you keep yourself knowledgeable and up to date on trends and industry standards in order to deliver the best quality of education? Constant reading, keeping current on all things relative to life transition positive aging, participating in professional organizations, and maintaining a practice of individual life coaching. 

What skills are needed in order for someone to achieve success in this industry / field? Being open to personal reflection and change, learning from others, and believing that you can create the life you want. 

What is important to know about this course?  It is possible to create the life you want; it takes time, energy and commitment to make a change in life; it’s normal to go through a period of confusion, not sure of what’s next; and  finally, that it’s very important to talk about what you want.   

What else do you think is important for future students to know about you? I’m also a work in progress. Since retiring from a long corporate career, I have finally incorporated balance in my life.  I’ve completely redesigned [my life], and am thoroughly enjoying the work I do now. I’ve also learned to spend time on the things that are important to me, including the fun things! 

What do you think is important for future students to know about CLIMB? Be a life time learner! CLIMB provides opportunities in both Professional development and Community Education. Try something new. Explore the possibilities! 

What do you do for fun? Walk outdoors, hike, paper crafting and scrapbooking, soulcollage, volunteer as facilitator for discussion groups for older adults, travel.


 The PCC CLIMB Center provides a variety of professional development  training. Just some of our courses include leadership, sales, customer  experience, online sales and management, IT and software, and  communication. Our top priority is to help you and your team reach your  full potential. We offer open enrollment classes for individuals seeking  their own professional development and contract training for organizations.

Topics: Professional Development, Life by Design NW 50+, Meet the CLIMB Team

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