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MWCC Shares Best Practices During Annual Teaching, Learning & Student Development Conference

Several MWCC faculty and staff shared best practices with colleagues throughout the state during the 2014 Massachusetts Community College Conference on Teaching, Learning & Student Development. The March 28 event, held at Northern Essex Community College, focused on the theme of Social Justice and the Community College.

“I am extremely proud of the Mount Wachusett Community College faculty and staff who presented five unique workshops that were well attended and spoke to the conference theme of social justice,” said Dr. Melissa Fama, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “I enjoy attending a conference where best practices in teaching are shared among the community college educators.”

The MWCC presenters focused on the topics of overall student success; civic engagement and service learning; and support for veterans transitioning to college.

In her presentation, “Active Learning Promotes Success in Science,” Professor Christine Kisiel discussed ways to provide opportunity for all students to succeed in science, regardless of their prior educational experience, background or skills. She shared examples of classroom activities that give students a voice in their learning, which empowers students to succeed.

Advisor and adjunct professor Robert Mayer presented “Soldiering On: Helping Soldiers Become Students and Active Citizens.” Soldiering On is a program for veterans transitioning to college and creates a cohort of students enrolled in a specialized First Year Experience course and English Composition 1. Examination of social, economic and environmental issues are integral parts of the curriculum to teach critical thinking, time management, writing, oral presentation and study skills.

Daniel Soucy, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Chair of Civic Engagement, discussed the new General Studies capstone course, “Global Issues and Veterans.” This unique course teaches social justice through the intellect and intuition, using the classroom and community veteran sites as learning spaces.

Fagan Forhan, Director of Experiential Learning opportunities and Civic Engagement and Director of the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, and Associate Dean of Students Greg Clement presented “Strategies for the Institutionalization of Civic Learning.” The session explored successful ways in which MWCC integrates social justice and civic learning into the student experience. The model begins with a foundation that supports collaboration among faculty, co-curricular programming and community partners.

Shelley Errington Nicholson, Director of Community Learning, and Human Services student Bryan Sanderson, founder of the Students Serving Our Service (SOS) program, described the launch of this successful new peer support program. Sanderson, who viewed his classmates’ struggles as a social justice issue, worked with the Center of Civic Learning and Community Engagement to develop the program. The program is aimed at increasing student retention and services by facilitating access to basic needs such as housing, transportation, child care, which can become obstacles to students’ success.