English professor adores learning from diverse students

Margaret “Buffy” Rattan is best described as a fun and dedicated parent, wife, and professor.

An instructor in English at South Plains College, Rattan was born in California, but has spent most of her life in Texas.

“I’m the only one in my family that wasn’t born in Texas,” she said. “I was pretty little when we moved back to Texas, because my dad had left college to join the Air Force.”

When Rattan moved back to Texas with her family, they lived in Canyon while her father finished his degree at West Texas A&M. But that isn’t where she grew up, or where she attended school.

“I grew up in Plainview – big city,” she said jokingly. “I started school in Plainview, and lived there through high school. Then, I came here, [SPC], and lived in Levelland to go to school.”

At SPC, Rattan does teach English, but it wasn’t until she attended college that she really got into literature.

“When I very first started here, I was going into nursing,” said Rattan. “I took anatomy and physiology, all of that kind of stuff, which I enjoyed, but then I took psychology with Dr. Skinner, who is still here. I took English classes here that I adored, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. Anatomy and physiology, I mean that’s great and all, but it’s the psychology and English, that’s what I really like.’”teach feach

Rattan didn’t graduate from SPC, but she did transfer to a university.

“I got all my basics here, then transferred to [Texas] Tech,” she said. “When I transferred, I did a major in psychology and a minor in English. My original plan was to either get a PhD in psychology or a PhD in English. But I had kids at that point, and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t have time to go to grad school.’ So, when my kids were really little, I taught preschool part-time, and I didn’t go to full-time high school teaching until they were older.”

When Rattan’s kids got a bit older, she got a job teaching English at Frenship High School.

“[I] taught at Frenship for six years,” said Rattan. “All of my kids graduated from Frenship, so we have been a part of that district for a long time.”

With all of her kids having graduated from Frenship and her no longer teaching there, Rattan says it was strange for all of them to not be going to Frenship.

“I got my master’s [degree] while I was teaching at the high school,” said Rattan. “Then I taught dual credit with South Plains, and through Angelo State, then came here, and it’s been great.”

Outside of either teaching or attending school, Rattan says she likes to bake breads and knit. But more than anything, she likes to spend time with her family.

“We like to do outdoorsy kind of stuff,” said Rattan. “We go to Palo Duro and go hiking and stuff like that as often as we can.”

Reading has also always been a big thing in Rattan’s family.

“My husband was a Spanish major, English minor, so our house has a lot of books,” said Rattan. “We read to them [her kids] from the time they were tiny babies, to way past the time that they could read on their own. Even when they were in middle school, I’d get them all on the couch and tell them ‘Let’s read a story!’ They can rattle off poems, they can say the jaberwakee poem from “Alice in Wonderland, so I was a bit of a nerdy mom.”

Her husband is in social work. Whether it be in the military, a science related major, or going into teaching, all her children are successful in what they do.

“[My] oldest one is a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps, and he is stationed at Camp Pendleton,” said Rattan.

Rattan would often visit her son when he was stationed in Colorado, and she also visited him when he was stationed in Japan.

But her oldest son isn’t the only one who has been in the military or helped her see the world.

“The second son, he spent four years in the Marine Corps, then got his under grad at [Texas] Tech in three years,” said Rattan. “He had an interview at Yale, and I went with him. Oh my gosh, it’s gorgeous. I went to some English and film lectures on the Yale campus that were open to the public.”

Rattan’s third son has also studied the sciences, but still has a little more studying to do.

“The third son has a bachelor of science in chemistry,” said Rattan. “But, he has decided to go to PA school, and there are some biology and psychology classes that he doesn’t have, that PA school requires. So, he’s going to be here next semester, getting those prerecs. So, I’m excited because we can have lunch together.”

Rattan also has two daughters currently attending Texas Tech.

“My older daughter is a junior at Tech, and she’s majoring in biochemistry, and she plans to go to medical school as well,” said Rattan. “She’s in the Women’s Leadership Institute at Tech.”

Rattan’s other daughter has decided to kind of follow in the footsteps of her mother.

“The youngest is a sophomore at Tech and she’s going to be a middle school English teacher,” said Rattan. “She is also doing some undergraduate research with little kids.”

For Rattan, there isn’t much outside of her family and literature that she enjoys doing, which is why she loves teaching.

“That all kind of wraps up together to me, and that’s part of why I love what I do,” said Rattan. “I feel like it all just fits in with who I am as a person. Because I genuinely love teaching, I love students, I love reading, I love learning new things. I learn as much from my students as they do from me. Every time they have a different perspective, they’ve been through different things. And that’s one thing that I really love about here, is that I have students of all ages, and I think that’s so cool. They have different things that they can bring to the classroom, so I really love that.”

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