Coast 2 coast: SC4 philosopher aims to build department

Michael Scott

Staff Writer

This past July, St. Clair County Community College found itself facing the daunting task of finding a replacement for long time professor, Thomas Obee, and his 43 years of experience.

The man SC4 chose to fill that void is Oregon native James Soto.

“When I first moved here, I felt like I had the biggest shoes in the city to fill,” said the 43 year-old Carnegie Mellon University graduate.

Very quickly, Soto had the notion that he was replacing a man who was very well respected within the city of Port Huron. Excited to build upon the legacy left by Obee, he intends to further develop the SC4 Philosophy department along the lines of his own interests and research.

“I’m just another community college student trying to give back to other community college students,” said Soto.

If students are interested in Soto and philosophy, they can take his new course: PHL 213 Ethics. The class is three credits and requires no prerequisite.

New instructor, James Soto, during a lecture on Feb. 7, 2012.  Photo Credit: Liz Whittemore

New instructor, James Soto, during a lecture on Feb. 7, 2012. Photo Credit: Liz Whittemore

The enthusiastic Soto said that he is most interested in researching the ways in which people learn. He uses his previous knowledge of child language acquisition and translates that into how students respond and learn through negative evidence.

“I’m still trying to figure out how to teach. I find it the most fascinating puzzle, when it comes to philosophy and intellectual inquiry. What’s great about it is in a sense I’m just a big student in front of the class. Because as I watch my students develop, as I go through the process of teaching I am constantly learning how to do my craft better, and that’s my favorite thing,” declared Soto.

But James Soto is more than just a college instructor.

The student amongst students is an avid baseball nut!

Spending his summers pitching for a men’s team in Detroit, he enjoys following his two favorite teams: The Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates.

He is an avid reader and investigator. Also, he enjoys taking his three dogs for walks along Lighthouse Beach daily, especially his pride and joy, a three year old pit bull, Sipo.

He is married to a wonderful Russian woman named Oanasuditu (pronounced Wan-na).

Soto’s educational roots extend from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, across the country to Pittsburgh where he finished graduate school and worked part time teaching for a few years.

With Michigan being the third coast he has hit, he added that he is excited, and is surrounded by a wonderful group of colleagues and dedicated students.

With admiration for the city in his heart, Soto says, “It is really spectacular. I like the architecture downtown. When I first came and saw the bridges it reminded me of a miniature Chicago.”

Hoping to achieve tenure while contributing to the community, Soto offered that he plans to remain in Port Huron and eventually retire in the city like Obee, working well into his 60’s, “I plan on working till my body breaks!”

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