News and Notes

June 30, 2011

News and Notes

Libby Gore, instructor of learning support mathematics and director of the First Year Experience at Georgia Highlands, has been named a Governor’s Teaching Fellow for academic year 2011-2012.  The fellows are chosen from around the state for a program jointly sponsored by the Institute of Higher Education and the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia.  The fellowships were created by former Governor Zell Miller to provide Georgia’s higher education faculty with expanded opportunities for developing important teaching skills.

Gore is one of 12 faculty members who will be taking six three-day symposiums in Athens at the Institute on a variety of pedagogical subjects.  This year’s subjects include grant writing, conflict management, instructional practices and learning styles, distance education and student engagement.

Each fellow is required to complete a project after the summer sessions are over that relates to one of the symposium subjects.  Gore expects hers to focus on the First Year Experience and educational technology, which will help her in efforts to improve the FYE for all students.

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Lisa Blumke, instructor of biology, will attend a training workshop to learn how to write a competitive grant.  The workshop is designed to increase the quality and number of grant submissions from two-year college faculty.  She will also receive peer mentoring from successful grant recipients.  Just to attend the workshop she had to write a project abstract and submit letters of support.

Once through the course, Blumke will try to get grant funding from a National Science Foundation TUES (Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science) grant. She hopes to use bean beetles for inquiry-based labs.  Inquiry-based learning is a student-centered learning style that requires active input from the students and allows them the freedom to think critically about achieving their chosen project.  Bean beetles are small insects that require a room-temperature environment and beans on which to lay their eggs.  Students design their own experiment using the beetles.

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Other faculty members are running a summer institute for math and science teachers who teach kindergarten through fifth grade.  The program is part of the Math-Science Partnership program through a grant sponsored by the Northwest Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency.  GHC is a partner in the grant.  MSP grants are federally funded, and the monies awarded to Georgia have been disseminated to these partnerships between primary or secondary schools and institutions of higher education.  This year’s cohort at GHC comprises teachers from Chickamauga, Floyd County, Cartersville and Calhoun.  This group is taking a two-year continuing education program that will earn them a science education endorsement.  They will then get an annual $1,000 stipend for the remainder of their teaching career.

Teaching the primary school educators are GHC faculty members, including Mark Knauss, professor of biology; Andrew Dawson, assistant professor of biology; and Mark Pergrem, assistant professor of physics.   They are covering earth science, life science, physical science and pedagogy.   The summer institute has focused on the application of grade-specific Georgia Performance Standards in the design and implementation of the teaching activities.  Dawson and Knauss have scheduled several field trips to expose teachers to educational resources they might not otherwise be aware of.  Their goal for the program is to produce an acclimated, committed, focused and interpersonally connected set of teachers to improve student outcomes in the science and technology disciplines.

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The Georgia Highlands College chapter of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges received one of the organization’s national Model Programs Awards in April.  Meredith Ginn, assistant professor of communication, heads the GHC chapter and accepted the award in New Orleans at the annual conference of the American Association of Community Colleges.

The Model Programs Award is designed to highlight the accomplishments of colleges, AAWCC members and chapters, individuals and community partners that support women in professional development, leadership training, career advancement, service activities, mentoring and networking.  There are three categories of specific awards under the Model Programs umbrella: chapter, program and community college.  GHC won the national chapter award.

The GHC chapter was cited for its volunteer work in the community, helping girls at Living Water for Girls, a rehabilitation center for young women who have been victims of sexual trafficking.  There they provided personal hygiene products, cleaning aids, gift cards and school supplies.  The group also hosted a variety of recruiting events for members and potential members.  Because they are an educational group, they held two book club gatherings to discuss Kathryn Stockett’s book The Help and Isabelle Allende’s The House of Spirits.  The GHC chapter held a variety of educational events, in fact, including a series of presentations on great women in history as part of Women’s History Month, student workshops on job skills and dressing for success and an outing to view the Diana, Princess of Wales exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta.

Breaking ground for memorial garden

Breaking Ground for Memorial Garden

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Devon Rediger, biology lab coordinator and adviser for Green Highlands, GHC’s environmental club, took students to Tybee Island for the group’s annual Spring Green service trip.  They participated in an educational marsh trek with the Tybee Marine Science Center and met with the Tybee Beautification Association.  They also broke ground on the Jon Penny Memorial Garden at the Burton 4-H center on Tybee.  Penny, 22, died while in military service last year.  But the visit wasn’t all work.  They also managed to get in some sightseeing to the Tybee Light Station and Fort Screven.

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GHC and Southern Polytechnic State University have received a Foreign Language Teaching Assistant grant from the Fulbright program and the Institute for International Education. Thanks to a collaborative effort between the two institutions, GHC and SPSU will jointly host Ignacio Lau, a faculty member of the National University of Tucuman in northern Argentina, for the 2011-2012 academic year.

As a foreign language teaching assistant, he will work with GHC Spanish faculty Amanda Nichols at the Marietta campus and Kathryn Garcia at the Cartersville campus. Lau will serve as a native assistant in the classroom, a tutor, guest speaker and cultural ambassador.  He will also take courses in American literature and history at GHC and SPSU and will assist Bernice Nuhfer-Halten, who is a Spanish professor at SPSU, with her courses.

GHC and SPSU received the Fulbright FLTA grant through the efforts of Bronson Long, director of the Global Initiatives and Study Abroad program at GHC and Raj Sashti, director of International Program Development at SPSU. While SPSU has hosted Fulbright scholars in the past, this is the first FLTA grant for both institutions.

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The Office of Student Life was recognized in the spring by the Association for Promotion of Campus Activities in several categories.  GHC won the national award for Best Student Leadership Development Program for the college’s Emerging Leaders program, in which selected students from each campus attend an eight-week session on leadership.  This year’s group numbered 46, an increase of 14 over last year.  The college was also a finalist for two other national awards: the APCA Shoestring Award, presented to the school that does the most programming with a small budget, and the Red Carpet Award, presented to the school that most graciously treats visiting performers (as voted on by the performers).

Two GHC students, William Gourdine (Paulding campus) and Ashly Traylor (Marietta campus) competed in the APCA Star talent show.  Both made the finals of that competition.

John Spranza, student life coordinator, was named the new southeast regional director for the organization.  He will serve on the executive board, and be directly responsible for assisting the APCA headquarters staff with the administration of member services within the region.  He will also coordinate recruitment efforts for new member schools in the eight states that comprise the region and serve on the planning committee for regional and national conferences.

Ken Reaves with Providence Elementary School students

Ken Reaves with Providence Elementary School students

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Ken Reaves, campus dean at GHC-Douglasville, recently spoke about the importance of higher education to 140 fourth- and fifth-grade students at Providence Elementary School, a new facility in an at-risk area in Temple.  He identified the courses students should be focused on now to prepare for college when they complete high school – English, math, science foreign language, social science.  He also reviewed GHC’s programs of study and advised them to aim for a career, not just a job.  “A job is something you just go to everyday,” he said.  “A career requires specific skills and preparation.  I can assure you, a career is more interesting.”  Reaves cautioned the children against constantly using “bummer” words that reinforce negative feelings and actions.  Words like never, no, can’t or won’t achieve nothing, he said, but words like try, reach, aim or do keep the mind on positive actions.  After his presentation, he asked a series of questions to the kids about his words, and provided laser/compass key chains for correct answers.

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