Category Archives: Administration

Visioning: An Exercise

It has often been quipped that individuals are as afraid of speaking in front of an audience as they are of facing the IRS in an audit or the dentists’ chair. As with all true learning, public speaking needs rehearsal and practice in order to be accomplished in a captivating, coherent and convincing way.

There is a practice I have used (having been a speech teacher in a previous life) that has come to serve me well whenever I step up to the podium. (Yes, even seasoned public speakers get a case of the nerves from time to time). The practice is called visioning.

Borrowed from the sports arena, visioning entails seeing yourself as delivering that speech successfully before you ever say a word. Not unlike the great basketball player who “visions” himself sinking the 3 point shot, the successful speaker “visions” the speech to be flawless, articulate, teeming with great information and yes even humorous. The way I tell my students about it is to sit quietly in a chair an hour or two prior to the speech, close your eyes and actually “see” yourself from introduction to conclusion in delivering the speech. The act of “visualizing” success is tantamount to foretelling that indeed a successful speech is about to take place…from your words and your delivery!

The great Wayne Gretzy is often quoted, “You must skate to where the puck will be” and the same is true of speaking…you must envision yourself as the successful orator!


A Life Changing Event

When I was a student at MCC I worked in the tutoring center helping students with Math, Chemistry and German. I remember assisting several students but one in particular changed my life.

I was a Chemistry major at the time. All through high school I helped many of my friends with their homework and that is why I chose to work in the tutoring center when I got to college. I have always liked helping people. One morning while I was walking across the mall area at MCC on my way to class a female student, that I had been assisting regularly in the tutoring center helping her with math, screamed out my name and came running across the green grass at me. The mall of course was full of students changing classes. She came up to me and jumped in my arms. I was taken completely off guard. I had been helping her with math that she had a lot of struggles with. There was no relationship between us besides tutor to tutee. After she strangled me she said “I got an A on my math test! I got an A on my math test! I got an AAAAA!!!” I had never seen anyone so happy about a grade before in my life. That experience felt really great and I decided after that day that I would become a math teacher. As they say, the rest is history. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life and I have a student to thank!


And the Oscar Goes to….

On the heels of the Academy Awards, I was reflecting on our own “award winners” at GCC who are often unheralded for their tenacity and perseverance.  While attending the Arizona Academic All American awards ceremony last week, I met three such amazing students who were being honored with high academic achievement.  And like many Oscar nominees, the pathways they each encountered to reach this milestone were unconventional at best and complicated at least.  One of the individuals never thought college was in their future, having never graduated from high school.  Another was a non-traditional student who imagined the classroom would be filled with 18-year-olds and not conducive to a more life-experienced style.  Still another was bold enough to venture into a major where the prominent demographic was male.  In each case, these students climbed over rocks and traversed crater-like holes to achieve a GPA that qualified them for scholarships at one of the three public universities in Arizona.
We all know “potential All Americans” in our classrooms, walking down the courtyard, studying in our library.  They are dedicated but are challenged; they are accomplished if not introverted; they are reaching for a goal that no one thought they could attain and quietly and steadily making progress toward the goal…the degree or certificate that boosts them to the next level of success!  With small encouragement, these students too should be recognized for their accomplishments.  A word on their paper congratulating them on improvement from the last draft; full completion of a physics lab that had been particularly challenging; accomplishing the all-important verb conjugation that is a must in mastering another language.  While this progression may not be the stuff of fanfare, they are the significant steps as a student makes as they acquire the needed skills to continue to move forward.  
A Gaucho applause for the nominees and the academically accomplished winners!

Still Looking for the Easy Button

I continue to look for ways to improve my instructional delivery of material to my students. One of the best places I have found for doing that, is to visit the lunch room. Not only do I enjoy eating, but talking with my fellow instructors helps me to bounce idea off of them and to gain ideas from them. Many times someone, or myself, will bring up a topic and talk about how the students really struggle to get such and such. Often someone else will chime in with, I’ve tried this or that and found that the students understood it a bit better with that approach. Also, in the Math department we have had different instructors, in our mid-semester meetings, share ways that they have approached teaching certain topics in their classes. I have been fortunate to have been a member of a large department so that there have been many different folks in the lunch room from which to learn and gain ideas. There is a lot of good local talent here at GCC, use it. It has worked for me.

P.S. Maybe someday I’ll get it perfect. It could happen.


Chronicles of a Lifelong Learner

When I was a high school senior I remember sitting on my bed, reading a brochure about college in Ireland and literally fantasizing not only about going to college but also about going so far away from my little corner in Kansas where I grew up and had yet to travel no further than Missouri which was a scant 20 miles northeast!

Well, I have yet to make it to Ireland but I did make it to college. Kansas City Kansas Community College where it took me about four years to complete 12 credit hours. I had a lot going on – two jobs and a boyfriend and a cache of excuses for missing and later dropping several of my classes. I was a first generation, sometime, part-time college student who understood the value of a college education but just didn’t have the personal infrastructure to help me become successful. That is, until an opportunity to save gas money presented itself. You see, I was not alone in trying to carve out gas money in the early 80’s to drive 40 miles round trip in a less than fuel efficient car. I discovered that at least three other students , all from my home town, were also in need of a little monetary help to keep attending class. So, we did what any other budding college students would do – we carpooled! We continued to carpool for the next few semesters appreciating the little extra dough in our pockets but appreciating even more the support group we had created for each other. Any personal issues any of us were experiencing, well we had 20 miles there and back to find solutions. And we did! Together we found ways to juggle home and job and kids and sometimes we even found a way to deal with the spouse who just did not understand why his wife needed to go to college.

Because of that group of ladies I was able to complete 12 credit hours and gain the confidence to continue  my studies at ASU after getting married (to the boyfriend) and moving to Arizona.  While attending ASU, several of us Accounting students intentionally enrolled in the same classes/sections. We held each other accountable not only to ourselves but also to the success of the class.

That same practice of embedding myself in a study/suppport cohort helped me get through my Master’s and Doctoral programs. It’s a tried and true approach – find a third party to hold yourself accountable to! You can always rationalize to yourself why you shouldn’t study or continue but it’s not so easy when you bring someone else into the discussion.

Finding inspiration from others while continuing my journey as a life long learner has also served me well outside of the formal classroom environment.

Over the years I’ve pursued piano lessons using a book titled “The Older Beginner” (no kidding) and the encouragement of my then 12 year old daughter who was learning the flute and my nine year old son who was learning the drums. (I’m hoping to have earned some wings for that one!)

I’ve also explored quilting with the help of some ladies who are very experienced in needle work. These same ladies also helped me realize that it takes patience to be even a half way decent quilter and it’s not for everyone.

You see, support to continued learning can come in all shapes, sizes and ages. It’s important that we recognize and embrace the support available and to then reciprocate support  when possible.

Here’s to all of you Life Long Learners – enjoy the journey!


Sincere Thanks from an Adjunct

I have heard and read countless complaints about being an Adjunct Faculty member. I will admit, there are difficult aspects of being an adjunct – and let’s face it, we all know what those are.

Having served as an adjunct faculty member in a few different places, I must say that being at GCC is the best.

Here are some reasons why:

There are pleasant places to work while on campus. The work places I have used are open and set up to encourage collaboration and discussion among others. It helps me feel a sense of belonging.

The staff is very helpful, and will do whatever they can to help me accomplish what I want or need to do. This culture of going above the call of duty is the rule, not the exception here. It doesn’t matter to people whether I am adjunct or not – they just help where they can. I love how the staff has been so helpful in navigating the bureaucratic hoops one must jump through sometimes.

More seasoned members of the Residential faculty are generally available to advise and educate when asked. Emails are answered and phone calls are returned without delay – I’m often amazed at how quickly that happens. Questions one might expect to have a 1-2 day turnaround are often be addressed on the same day.

I feel like I’m an important contributor to the community here too. My advice is sought, my ideas are heard, and my opinions matter. My intellect is stimulated – and I learn new things at work all the time. This is a far cry from the second-class-citizen feeling that often accompanies being an adjunct.

The positive feelings and willingness to help I have experienced outside the classroom spills over into my classes as well. Students are the direct beneficiaries of this. I can be more available and am more willing to advocate for them when needed, because I am happy and comfortable in the environment.

Thank you GCC!


Exercise is Medicine for Stress

The people have spoken! According to the survey results from last week’s blog, the number one reason that GCC employees exercise is for…wait for it…relief from stress.

The stress relief gained from just one exercise session can last for 60-90 minutes! This is due to the release of endorphins – chemicals that act like pain killers!  According to WebMD, “…that feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.”

Just from reading some of the awesome Write 6×6 blogs, you get a sense of the anxiety and tension experienced by employees and students alike. You don’t have to read the blogs to know the amount of pressure we are all dealing with.


One of the most common stress responses felt by students is test-taking anxiety.  You know…that feeling when you have stayed up all night to cram for a big exam, and realize the next morning that absolutely nothing was committed to memory. The exam paper staring up at you. Panic sets in. Eyes dilate. Heart races. Breathing increases. Sweat beads begin to emerge, but nothing coming from the brain.

As employees we may feel similar tension related to deadlines, presentations, forging through “red tape,” miscommunications, personality conflicts, cultural differences, personal beliefs…the list is endless.

So grab your work buddy and take them for a brisk walk around our beautiful campus! Encourage your students to move more every chance you get! Be the role model and show people in a positively active way how you handle your stress!

Don’t think you have time to exercise? Watch this video, “23 and 1/2 Hours,” and I promise it will make an impact on your decision.

Next week I will tell you about all of the wonderful on-campus opportunities to move more and have fun doing it. If you can’t wait ’til then, come find an exercise professional on the west side of campus! We are here to serve you!

Results from the survey “My Benefits of Physical Activity.

More energy (have enough energy to play with the kids after work, stay productive after lunch, take care of the house on the weekend) 75%
Less chance of colds and flu 75%
Relief from stress 100%
Increased productivity (feel confident that I can accomplish all I want to do and invigorated when I get things done) 75%
Clean thinking (able to concentrate, sort things out clearly, and solve problems) 75%
Healthy and strong bones, joints, and muscles (lower my risk of injury, tackle heavier household chores, and try new activities) 75%
Increased vitality (feel alive and full of energy, like I can take on the world) 50%
Better quality of life (stay active in retirement, keep up with family and friends on vacation or around town, do things for myself) 50%
Stronger, healthier heart and lungs (climb stairs without huffing and puffing; become more active and less fatigued around town or on vacation) 75%
Better sleep 75%
Decreased feelings of depression or anxiety 75%
Improved physical fitness 75%
More effective weight control (be able to reduce or maintain weight) 50%
Reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes 50%
Brighter mental outlook (feel good about life, ready to take on the day, and confident that things will work out) 75%
Reduced risk of colon cancer 0%
Healthier and longer independent life (reduce my risk of disease and maintain my independence as I grow older) 75%
Improved self-esteem and self-image 75%




Random Acts of Relief

As mid-term approaches, students are often stressed with upcoming exams, papers, projects, team presentations and the like. I remember the feeling well and the thought of multiple assignments due all at once was simply overwhelming. What I also remember were “random acts of stress relief” that were welcomed respites from otherwise intense, despair-ridden feelings that simply helped get me through the day.

This relief came in some of the most unintended forms: A classmate invited me for hot chocolate; a faculty member brought in a fitness trainer to help us with stress relief exercises; the cafeteria stayed open later so that when pulling an all-nighter, coffee and goodies were available. But more than that was a kind word of reassurance from faculty and staff that offered assistance, guidance and confidence, which allowed me to navigate the most stressful times.

I suggest to all of us at GCC, now is the time to pay it forward with these and any other great ideas to give our students the extra nudge to the finish line. Stopping a student on the sidewalk and simply asking how they are doing, or walking through computer commons or the Library and checking in with students as they are busily working on the computer. Better yet, when a student is in line at Grounds for Thought, offer to pay for their coffee. These small gestures go a long way to assure students know we care about them and their success.


The Horse to Water Story

I have been teaching math for 28 years. Even as I have recently been asked to perform the duties of a Dean I still have taught a math class in the Fall semesters. I have seen many successful and, unfortunately, unsuccessful student stores. I have seen my teaching techniques evolve over the years from my attendance in many teaching conferences and workshops. I’m confident that I’m better at my profession than I once was. But, you knew the “but” was coming didn’t you 🙂 , as you look at success rates of students over the many decades the change is not earth shattering. I believe it is because of the old quote  “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”. I always preach to my students throughout the class that I know they all can succeed in this class if they put the proper time into it. I remember one particular student. She was your normal, fresh out of high school, student. She came to class most everyday but didn’t speak up much unless called upon. Her test scores were not very good through the first half of the class. One day when I was passing back one of the tests she asked me about what she could do to improve her grade. My first thought was, where were you the past 7 weeks when I’ve talked a lot about good practices. But, I simply asked her “Tell me what you have been doing with this class?” She told me, it wasn’t much as I suspected, thus I said “I think that if you would go to The Math Solution when possible to do your homework where you can get instant assistance, and come to my office for answers to your questions when needed, and not be afraid to ask about items you are uncertain about in class, and spend at least 1 hour each day doing your math homework, you will see a definite improvement in your grade. The next test was 72% and so I wrote a nice note on the top of it encouraging her. The next was even better, so as I was passing back the test I said “You are doing very well keep it up.” She smiled and said “You were right, I just needed to put in the time necessary to do well. I wish I had listened to you from the beginning of class.” I smiled back and said “Better late than never.” She was able to raise her grade up to a B by the end of the semester. It is a joy, as a teacher, to have those moments where you get to see a student’s light bulb come on! Just like with people who are struggling with addiction though, unless a person makes the choice to do right, all the leading in the world isn’t going to make a difference. I do everything within my power to create fertile soil in the classroom but unless a student applies him/her self, knowledge just isn’t going to grow.

I have been fortunate to have had many good student stories. I hope your life has been filled with them too!


Student Affairs…By Any Other Name

What is Student Affairs?  What does it mean?  Why should I worry about it?

At GCC, we use the phrase “Student Affairs” but other colleges call it Student Services or Student Development.  By another other name, “Student Affairs” is the group of dedicated people focused on student success through their academic courses and also in developing the whole person.

Many years ago when I started my career as a member of the Faculty, teaching Mathematics at South Mountain Community College, I never even entered the Enrollment Center, other than to drop off my grades (this was way before SIS and electronic grading, we actually had paper grade sheets).

I never considered how my students made their way to my class, I was just so happy to have a full class and to teach a subject that I really enjoyed.  But most of all, I was so happy to have a captive audience that I could mentor, encourage, inspire; to help them believe in their ability because I truly believe that people are more mathematical than they believe and can do more than they believe possible.

Later, I realized, and truly appreciated, the army of individuals dedicated to serving our students  Staff who are as passionate about helping students reach their goals as the faculty.  Staff who go above and beyond to reach the students.

I am honored to serve as the Vice President of Student Affairs at GCC.  My amazing and dedicated team is split into two groups:  Enrollment Services and Student Life.  I’m going to use the next six weeks to share stories of student success and to help strengthen the bridge between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs.  As we all know, it takes a village…and we all have a part to play in student success, but most of all, as we move forward to the next 50 years of GCC, our programs will be strengthened as we continue to work together.