In this column, employees of Glendale College with different roles engage in dialogue about their departments/divisions, as well as thoughts about a more student-centered campus. Partners are given the same three questions to ask one another, and the option of additional questions and/or taking a selfie together. If you are interested in participating in this dialogue, please feel free to email Sandy Somo or Julie Gamberg (email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Roger Bowerman and Peggy Renner hired me in January 2007 to teach a women’s history course. I teach courses in History, Social Science, Ethnic Studies and even co-taught a Humanities course with Julie Gamberg once. I also worked as the Faculty Coordinator of Accreditation & Planning from 2015-2022. This July I’m starting a new job, Division Chair of Social Science.
I really love and feel so fortunate to be part of the Social Science Division. We represent the disciplines that teach students how to be good citizens and caretakers of the world. We teach students to think deeply about themselves and their place/space. We also require that they think beyond that place/space to recognize that different cultures, environments, and structures exist, have value, and may vary greatly from their own reality. This is also why I love the name of our pathway, People, Power, and Perspectives. It fits us so perfectly.
For years, our Division has had conversations about how to “google-proof” our assessments (thank you, Mike Dulay). I’m so grateful, especially now as we are learning how to cope with systems such as Chat GPT. The world is changing very rapidly. As educators, we need to change too. And as states such as Florida try to limit learning about diversity, I would love to see Glendale faculty embrace this 100%. I know that saying “decolonize your classroom” sounds scary, but what it really means is, “try using a different lens to discuss your field.” I remember years ago, the GCC History courses about Asia were called, “The Far East” and Rich Kamei asked, “Far from where?” Let’s embrace the concepts of DEIA in our classroom. It opens up new possibilities and new insights. When we are excited about our curriculum, our students will be excited about it too.
Excited? Oh, is that what you call those butterflies? I'm looking forward to learning more about my colleagues in the Division. I also feel that this is the perfect opportunity to really promote our Learning Pathway as students are finding their way back to campus. When I had my job as Faculty Accreditation Coordinator, I had release time then too. I AM happy that I get to keep teaching while being Chair. I've always told my students, "You're the best part of my day. PLEASE, come pull me out of a meeting if you need to." - lol
I was able to join the GCC family in July 2022 as the Superintendent/President, but the GCC family made an impression long before that. Several years back, the college hosted an MLK Day presentation on the history of Glendale and it was impressive to see a college so willing to explore its historical challenges as part of its DEIA efforts. The people on campus were so open and welcoming and I knew then that this would be a wonderful place to work.
I wish that everyone knew that the President’s Office really is open and wants to know more about what is happening in each area of the college. A central function of the Office is promoting the college and advocating for the needs of students and employees alike. It is a blessing to be able to hear the amazing work being done throughout the college and share those successes with pride. It also helps in decision-making to not only understand what is going on functionally, but to also understand the people involved.
Often we think of the student in student-centered as plural. We look to what we can do to support the students, which can cloud the understanding of the individuality of each student. Each student comes with their own unique outlook and needs built on the intersectionality of their lived experiences. I think that truly being student-centered is about the singular student and asking ourselves whether our systems, culture and practices support their individual needs and goals. A colleague once challenged me to think of each individual student interaction as the one moment when that student decides whether or not to continue to pursue higher education. This was a profound challenge that forced me to consider our collective approach. Based on this, I think what we can all do to be more student-centered is make it a point to build relationships with our students. When current students, alumni and members of the community speak about the excellence that is GCC, they speak of the people, and the relationships that impacted their lives. Being student-centered is building on this culture and systematically ensuring that each student is able to have this exemplary experience.
My whole family is filled with educators. I was convinced that was not my path and had been working as a social worker at Cedars-Sinai. In that role, I worked with clients who were suffering from addictive and/or mood disorders. This work included conducting research with the Department of Psychiatry to evidence effective practices. During this time, I was offered an opportunity to teach Biological Psychology as an adjunct. I knew immediately that that is where I needed and wanted to be. I loved being with students and found that education was social work, but at a broader level and with an even bigger potential impact. The idea of providing opportunities to uplift students, their families and their communities was a calling.
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