Academic Programs

Arts and Letters

Chair: Debra Parker

Amy Lakin
Associate Professor

Brinkerhoff Home BR-205
217-525-1420 x3215
alakin@ben.edu

Thanks for visiting me! I'm Ms. Lakin (as in "bacon") and I've been teaching English at SCI since 1997.

I grew up in a very small town, Mt. Pulaski, Illinois (the home of Stahl's furniture and an Abraham Lincoln courthouse!). As a child, I read pretty much anything that I could get my hands on, so it was no surprise to anyone when I decided to become an English teacher.

I began my collegiate studies at Springfield College, graduating in 1992. I truly LOVED being a SCI student: the classes were small, the teachers were great, and my friends were fun. I was a student ambassador, the student editor of the monthly newsletter News and Views, and I was also member of Phi Theta Kappa.

After graduation, I transferred to Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois at Springfield) where I earned both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in English. My career goal the entire time was to return to SCI to teach English.

In 1997, my son Jake was born and I began teaching part-time at SCI. In 2000, Jake's little sister, Julia, was born. Three years later, I became a single mom and a full-time instructor at SCI.

I teach English composition, reading, and literature classes. In addition to my teaching duties, I was also the chair of the Division of Languages and Literature and co-advisor to the Literary Club. I truly believe that God put me on this earth to teach. I can't imagine doing anything else! 

Outside the classroom, I enjoy learning more about my students and their interests, spending time with my children, eating out (my favorite Springfield restaurants are Indigo, Soiree Bistro, and Smokey Bones), playing cut-throat UNO with faculty and staff, and traveling whenever possible. Some of the places I have traveled to include Boston, Orlando (Disney, Sea World, and Universal Studios), Miami, Ft. Lauderdale,Tampa, the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, St. Thomas, and St. Martin. My "significant other" and I frequently travel to our favorite town, St. Louis.

Lynette Shaw-Smith
Associate Professor

Hi, my name is Lynette Shaw-Smith, and I have been teaching  English here since 1997.

I grew up in Pittsfield, Illinois, which is just over an hour west of Springfield. I am the  fourth of five children. I attended MacMurray  College, a small liberal arts college  in Jacksonville.  There, I studied English and secondary education. After student teaching in  high school, I decided that high school students were too young, so I attended  graduate school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I earned a master's degree  and did all of my Ph.D. coursework in rhetoric and linguistics with the goal of  teaching college writing.

In 1988, I left Mizzou to find a warmer climate. I moved to San Jose, California,  to work as a technical writer at IBM and later for Apollo Programming. Missing  students, I returned to teaching. I taught English as a Second Language at Mission College  and at Golden Gate Language School.

While in California,  I met and married Scott Smith, a native Californian and computer programmer.  Hating the big city, the traffic, and the earthquakes, I fled home to Illinois, bringing along the native Californian to the Midwest. (I thought he'd hate the Midwest in the cold winter, but he hates the Midwest in the humid  summer).

First, we moved to Champaign-Urbana, where I taught English as a Second Language at Parkland  College and Urbana Adult  Education. Then, we moved to Springfield,  so that I could fulfill my dream of teaching at a small liberal arts college. I  teach freshman composition, grammar, literature, and reading classes, and I am  the faculty advisor to the International Club. My husband is now a programmer  and database administrator for Prairie Heart Institute. We love the friendly  people of Springfield,  so we have been very happy here.

My passions are my husband (we married in June 1989), my family,  teaching English, reading mystery novels, seeing movies, and traveling. I have  been to all 50 states and many foreign countries.  I hope to visit every  continent on Earth before I die.   

To truly know a teacher, you must hear from his/her students.  Here are some things the experts (my students) have to say:

Sean Layendecker from my English 112 class says, "I had a  lot of fun in your class this year, and I needed a teacher to kick my butt into  gear. Thank you for everything you have done this semester, Mrs. Shaw-Smith." 

According to former English 111 student and International Club member, Angela (Weina) Huang, "Not only is she a great teacher, but she also has a great personality. She's Mrs. Shaw-Smith. If she's at her office,  students can always get help, and she will help her students in any way she  can. She really shows that she cares about her students. That's what I like  best about her, her kindness. She also has great laughs." 

Anthony Gayton from English 111 and English 112 explains, "Time flies when you're having fun and enjoying coming to class. And it helps when your instructor is helpful and you can talk about anything that is  going on in your life, and she doesn't just blow you off. So Mrs. Shaw-Smith,  thanks for being an understanding and sweet person."

Nestor B. Guerra, a former English 112 student, says,  "There is nothing I could say about Mrs. Shaw-Smith that other students  have not said about her. She's a good teacher, who is willing to go the extra mile for any student who is willing to work hard with their work. She's a  teacher who can relate to the struggles of being a college student. I'm glad I  had her as my English teacher."

Melvin Armstrong , a former English 111  student, stated on Facebook: “For the lady who allowed me to believe  that I could do whatever I put my mind to, who allowed me to believe that I  could make a contribution to society before I knew I could.”