June 27, 2022 | Matt Kucinski

A classroom of students poses with a professor holding a sign saying
John Ross was surprised and presented with the award during one of his classes this spring.

An hour before class begins, John Ross is preparing his whiteboard.

“It’s important to him that his students have a good class every single class,” said Kerrie Berends, chair of the kinesiology department.

Every class, every practice, every spinning session matters to Ross.


“From the time he gets to campus, I see him in the classroom making a plan,” said Berends. “People don’t see that happen, but to me that shows he’s concerned all the time that he’s prepared, he’s ready, that the students can hit the ground running the moment they enter class.”

He does it all for the students, because every student matters to him. And these behind-the-scenes and in classroom moments haven’t gone unnoticed. It’s the reason why the associate professor of kinesiology was named Professor of the Year by the 2022 graduating class.

“This is a humbling honor from the Class of 2022,” said Ross. “I thoroughly love coming to Calvin every day and being around students. We are blessed to have such amazing individuals come through our university. I am very thankful to my heavenly father for giving us great students and for my energy, love, and passion towards kinesiology and physical activity.”

A personalized experience

Ross’ care for his students manifests in the way he gives them each his individual attention. It's a quality his colleagues notice in his coaching of the men's and women's tennis teams as well.

“I think he built his coaching philosophy on quality relationships,” said kinesiology professor John Sparks, who is also a close friend. “I know he’s spent a lot of time getting to know each individual player, and that same philosophy transferred over into his teaching where he tries to spend time getting to know what motivates each person and where they are headed.”

Amber Gilliland is the coordinator of Calvin’s Ready For Life program, who said many of her students cast a vote for Ross for Professor of the Year.

“John Ross was one of the first professors at Calvin to work with Ready For Life,” said Gilliland. “My students absolutely love their classes with John Ross because he naturally includes them in every aspect of the class. He treats them like any other student while also taking time to get to know them personally and make sure they feel comfortable and supported.”

A role model

His door is also always open to students.

“The way his office is setup, there’s always people standing outside his door, you rarely walk by without seeing him talking to students,” said Berends.

Ross not only coaches his students, he also models for them what it looks like to live a healthy lifestyle, literally training alongside them in strength and conditioning and spinning classes.

“He participates with the students in the class and they see him modeling an exercise lifestyle,” said Berends. “He’s down in the gym with colleagues at 10 a.m. working out, it’s nice for students to see a role model, he’s not just talking the talk.”

“Teaching at Calvin is a blessing as I am able to invest in the lives of our students, mentor, and help them during this crucial time of their lives, and guide them in their future,” added Ross.

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