“Come on in,” Dr. Daphne Haddad, Professor of Education, said as we entered through the back door of her house.
“I am doing so much better,” Haddad said with a bright face. While she still uses a walker for assistance, she moves more confidently since the last time a group of us visited. Haddad had broken her hip when she stepped on a loose curbside earlier in October. The incident solidified her decision to finally retire after teaching at Covenant for twenty-one years.
Haddad has considered retiring for the past two years. She prayed for clarity and had tentatively thought of next summer as the right time for retirement. A broken hip helped her reach a set decision. “Be careful what you pray for,” she said.
Haddad started teaching in Covenant in 1996. And since then, every semester to date, she has taught Global Trends and Teaching in a Pluralistic Society. She has also taught other education classes, helped with Christian Mind and Christ and Culture, and later helped with Arabic since the class was offered around five years ago. Haddad, who had spent almost all her life teaching, learning, or doing both, enjoys all her classes and could not pick a favorite.
Haddad was born in England and pursued her education in Birmingham University with a BA and an MA in theology. She then moved to Pakistan after winning a scholarship that paid for a year’s study at the University of Panjab in Lahore. Haddad’s love of travel was sparked by her trips to and from Pakistan that eventually led her to places like Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Israel.
“Scholarships are the way to see the world,” she said. And rightly so, because another scholarship sent her to Montreal, Canada, where she studied at McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies. Haddad married while studying there and dropped out of graduate school after the birth of her daughter and second pregnancy with her son.
She moved to Mexico where she lived for almost five years while her ex-husband worked in a Mexican textile company. During this time, Haddad trained in teaching English as a second language.
The family later moved to the United States, which proved more shocking for Haddad than moving to either Mexico or Pakistan.
“I went to the grocery store to get instant coffee. When we lived in Mexico, there would be a choice of the big jar or little jar of Nescafé. When we came to the US, the shelf was filled with twenty different choices of brands! How was I supposed to know which one to get?” Haddad said.
Haddad began teaching in schools and along the way earned her MA in Elementary Education, and another one in Gifted Education. In 1995, she finished her PhD in Social Foundations of Education with a concentration in multicultural education. Six months after graduating, she came to Covenant College.
Twenty-one years Covenant, and the highlight of Haddad’s time was simply the “people.”
One of the things Haddad has learned at Covenant is that God engineers surprising friendships. One of Haddad’s closest friends is Pauline Snyder, Brock Facilities Services Support Staff. The friendship started from a simple “hello” and grew into a sisterhood neither of them could explain.
“We have become family to each other, and neither of us can quite explain it,” Haddad said. “We couldn’t have had more different backgrounds and life experiences.”
Outside of teaching, Haddad was also the faculty director of the Diversity Program for eight years and started a gathering for the program called “Tea Time,” which has evolved into what is now called “DiCafe.”
During my own visit, she put the kettle on for us. “This is decaffeinated black tea. This tea is from Indonesia. You would recognize this. And this one is green tea with cardamom,” she explained. Haddad herself drinks eight to ten cups of tea every day.
Haddad will continue to teach full-time next semester, then take a Global Trends May Term group to London with Dr. Follett. She may teach part-time for the following academic year, but nothing is decided yet.
In the years to come, Haddad wants to teach English to refugees and immigrants in Chattanooga. “The English language is empowering for people in this country,” Haddad said.
Haddad’s life motto is simple. “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” She explained, “It’s better to accomplish something, even imperfectly, than to hang back and do nothing.”
“I can think of many times when I think I’m not as well-prepared as I’d like to be and it went okay. And other times I planned very well and the class bombed. Either way, there are students who appreciate you or not appreciate you. And you just have to keep going.”
Haddad’s advice for students is, “Don’t waste these four years. You can party and play video games for the rest of your life. But you can’t build the relationships and learn from your classes. Those are things you only get one shot at.”
She paused, and then continued, “So learn to set priorities and let everything else wait. And many relationships! Not just one relationship. Make a lot of friends and go out with a lot of groups of people!