Last week I had the pleasure to provide a brief welcome to a state-wide early childhood education professional development event organized and led by PVCC early childhood faculty Christie Colunga and Ana Stigsson. Not only was the event remarkable as evidenced by the internationally known presenters – Dr. Peter Moss, Emeritus Professor of Early Childhood Provision , University of College London and Mariana Castagnetti, with the Reggio Children Center (she Skyped in live from Italy), but the event epitomized what is best about bringing learning live in a learning-centered college. The session focused on understanding the contributions of Loris Malaguzzi and the schools of Reggio Emilia.
At the highest levels, early childhood education epitomizes positive social change. The driving premise is that all children in Arizona under the age of five are provided access to the very best and enriching learning opportunities. In order for this aspirational goal to be realized, professionals whom work in the early childhood arena must be ably prepared with the most current and effective learning strategies and approaches. PVCC’s early childhood education is a primary provider of such professional development.
Please join me in recognizing Christie and Ana as they clearly and effectively demonstrate the delivery of employee and organizational learning in order to achieve the needed positive social change in support of the education and learning of young children in Arizona.
Welcome to the start of summer and the beginning work to prepare for an outstanding upcoming 2018-2019 academic year. With the official end of our 30th Anniversary celebratory year, 2018-2019 marks the first year of new excellence as we begin the next 30 years of excelling as a learning-centered college.
During our end-of-year all-employee gathering, I shared a number of projects that we will engage in during this “summer of building for the future.” These projects are noted below.
Shaping our Spaces
- Renovation of 10,000 sq ft of Q for the new Integrated Health Services Center
- Enhancement of student spaces in the E Building and further visioning for an integrated learning center
- Improvement of the outdoor learning spaces in the G,H, K Courtyard
Building our Team
- New faculty hires: Nursing, Biology, English, General Business, CIS, Engineering/Physics
- Re-establishing our marketing unit
- Filling the vacant Director of Development position
Building and Strengthening Programs
- Continued work on Guided Pathways and alignment with Puma Pathways
- Further work on Critical Thinking Academy
- Re-introducing the pre-engineering program
- Enhancing our Student Success Initiative targeting new students
- Addressing critical educational attainment equity gaps
Additionally, during our all-employee meeting, I recognized several faculty and staff as recipients of the Puma Pin award
- Terri Siemer – for her outstanding leadership of the custodial team
- Jon Storslee – for his service as Faculty Senate President 2016-2018
- Carolyn Miller – for her service as classified staff representative 2016-2018
- Ellen Hedlund – for her leadership of the college’s 30th Anniversary celebrations
- John Douglass – for his long-term leadership of the Honors program and work with undergraduate research
While the summer of 2018 will be focused and productive on the work at hand, I ask that all of us find time this summer to maintain life balance and carve out time to relax, refresh and re-energize.
Below is an excerpt from my remarks to the 2018 PVCC graduates during commencement exercises held on Friday, May 11, 2018.
Several weeks ago, our PVCC colleague, Cranston Forte, adviser to our MEN’s program, unexpectedly passed away. It is at these times we tend to take pause and reflect on what life lessons are harvested from grief. Cranston’s life demonstrated three important lessons that I know you will finding meaningful.
I learned from him that of the many reasons why we are here on this earth – two of the most important are: 1) find a cause you believe in and do everything you can in a tireless, relentless manner to make it better, build it up, give it energy and life; —- and 2) conversely do not hide from an issue of concern that you believe is wrong, broken, unjust or unfair and do everything you can to challenge it, to fix it, to make it better.
While these two divergent pursuits, alone are not novel or transformative. The third, I believe is. The larger lesson gleaned from Cranston’s life is that one should pursue both courses of action – that of building up and that of challenging to fix the broken – in the same exact fair-minded approach, to the extent that anyone observing from afar, would not know the difference in personal tone, careful reason of thought, levels of empathy and concern for others – finally with the same personal humility and courage.
So graduates with this “fair-minded” approach, challenge yourself to be more fully engaged to change your state of mind between the unknown and known; between hatred and empathy; between confusion and curiosity; between disarray and synthesis; between self and citizen; between apathy and action; and finally to change your state of mind to act and lead with personal congruence whether you are building something up or bringing the end to an unjust cause.
Today we celebrate the success of our students at the 28th Annual Commencement exercises. Commencement serves as a rewarding reminder that when “learning comes alive,” expectations are set high, and foundations of support are provided, students will excel beyond our wildest imaginations. Remarkably, their achievements, in many cases, come while working and juggling many other family roles and responsibilities.
While tonight’s celebration will be held with several thousand family and friends in attendance, throughout the past several weeks, it has been my pleasure to witness student success on display in more intimate settings including: our Student Awards and Recognition Ceremony, Honors Applauds, Nursing Pinning Ceremony, Fire Operations Completion Ceremony, cultural convocations, and the Mancini Science Symposium. These celebrations provide wonderful opportunities to learn about the varied personal stories that define students’ lives beyond PVCC, as well as their future aspirations.
My deepest thanks to all faculty and staff for making the 2017-2018 academic year, our 30th Anniversary year, an outstanding success. I look forward to a summer of engaging faculty and staff leadership in just plain hard work to address initiatives such as Guided Pathways, our Critical Thinking Academy, and the launch of several new academic programs in preparation for an even better year of student success in 2018-2019.
This week exemplary student-athlete success is “on my mind.” Please take a look at my interview with PVCC Athletics Director Christina Hundley. My thanks to our coaches, athletic department staff, faculty mentors, and the myriad of academic and student affairs support staffs – all of who contribute to making Puma athletics a wonderful success . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8BMDWBRx0M
As I previewed in an earlier edition of What’s on My Mind, this post provides additional reflections on how my lens of learning-centeredness shaded my view of the recovery process while in the ICU. In terms of context, we have identified the following student success characteristics that must be present in a learning-centered college: establishment of meaningful relationships with peers/faculty/staff; knowledge to navigate our systems and processes; a clearly established goal orientation; knowledge of how best to learn; and a connection/identification with the college. With this context in mind, I reflect on whether like attributes occur in the hospital setting. Perhaps I learned some lessons that can be translated to PVCC and allow us to better focus on our work.
So here are my observations and reflections from my time in the ICU contextualized in learning-centeredness…
My level of anxiety was dramatically reduced the more the doctors and attending nurses provided me information and a clear understanding of what to expect next. Effective narrative was presented in enough detail and in lay-person terminology for me to mentally norm the experience.
Within one day of the surgery, I was encouraged to be self-directed in my healing process. Clear expectations were established around breathing exercises, daily hallway walks, and decision-making around meds. Nurses, especially, held me accountable.
Even in the hectic and somewhat frenetic environment of the cardiovascular ICU, relationship building was the foundation of all my care. In almost all cases, an effort was made to connect with me as a person not as a patient. Even though I was just one of many patients, this personal connect made a huge positive difference during recovery.
Much of the time during the first three to four days, I felt a strong sense of “otherness” – (dictionary defined as the quality or fact of being different). I simply could not do the most fundamental life functions that virtually everyone around me performed without thinking. Unable to get out of bed without a “spotter,” walking without the assistance of a walker, and an inability to even reach overhead to adjust a pillow. In hindsight it is easy now to accept that this was a temporary stare of “otherness” clearly connected to physical difference with all of those around me. Nonetheless this feeling of otherness created a personal resentment, frustration, and embarrassment as well as a drive, sometimes misguided, to accelerate and figure out how to transition to a state of “sameness.”
Finally, during the most difficult times of recovery, I felt a very reassuring and comforting level of attention. At the same time as the doctors rotated out there was a subtle feeling of abandonment with my mental tapes playing “hey you got me into this but now you are off to see other patients and other duties.” I felt very alone.
Perhaps I have been at PVCC too long, but throughout my hospital stay, I really did ponder and reflect on the characteristics of a learning centered-college while experiencing the health care world. I thought deeply about: the importance of relationships, how our students who feel a sense of more permanent “otherness” survive, how we communicate learning expectations and the import of instilling self-directedness in our students. Perhaps most importantly, because learning is very much a social and human endeavor, I reflected on how important it is that we remain keenly aware of student affect throughout the learning process.
Several of you have asked what I read while I was out. My “recovery” reading titles were broad and varied and below are a sample that may be of interest.
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan – a novel that takes place on a Mississippi farm after World War II that follows two families separated by social class and race: landowners and sharecroppers…”
In the Country we Love by Diane Guerrero – family struggles of the undocumented experience
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis – the story of psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky studies on the human decision-making process
Thank You for Being Late: An optimists Guide in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman – an analysis of technology, globalization, and climate change advancing at speeds to disrupt our lives
Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder
And I’ve just started reading The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson – a look at the hidden motives in our minds.
I had the pleasure, along with a number of PVCC students, faculty and staff to attend the first annual Social Venture Partnership Ed Pitch Contest where Arizona college students pitched social entrepreneurial ideas around “Innovative Solutions for Students by Students. As you have already read, PVCC student Christopher Figueroa was awarded $7,500 as the Social Venture Partner Award winner.
As Christopher was presented his award the language used (and I paraphrase) included “…best represents positive social change…” Below is a link to view Christopher’s presentation and his acceptance of the award. I share this video clip as evidence that active and engaged learning and positive social change are alive and well at PVCC.
Job well done Christopher!