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Chaparral 2018-2019: 27.5 Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues

Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues

by Julie Gamberg and Sandy Somo

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 (ssomo@glendale.edu; jgamberg@glendale.edu)

 

Joining us for this issue are Nonah Maffit in Instructional Services and Richard Cortés in Counseling.

How long have you been at GCC, and what do you do here?

Nonah

I’ve been an admin assistant in the Office of Instructional Services for over a year now. Prior to that, I was the part-time admin assistant in Biology for 10 years. For the past 3 years, I’ve also been the Classified Staff Professional Development Coordinator.

What do you wish people to know about your division or department that you think they might not totally understand?

Nonah

The Office of Instructional Services deals with anything and everything contained in the classroom. We assist with programs such as Curriculum & Instruction, inputting course and program data; Scholars Program, processing applications and assisting with requirements; and processing applications and payments for Study Abroad. We assist with Adjunct Ancillary Activity stipends. We schedule, run and administer student evaluations of faculty. We handle field trip forms. We post faculty absences and track faculty banking hours, overloads, etc. We update mailboxes. We organize Faculty Information Day. We help instructional divisions to notify each student about a course or section cancellation or addition. We support the adjunct faculty center. We provide Canvas support after regular hours. We take inventory of faculty offices and classrooms. We manage the Information booth and train student workers. In between all these, we answer general questions and guide students to the correct resources. We handle student complaints with discretion. We help students get to their classes. We help faculty get to their classes.

My day-to-day interactions with students and faculty help identify and prioritize training for the professional development of classified staff. The program was created as a separate program from faculty to respond to this need. Classified staff are the first and, most likely, the last GCC employees whom students will encounter. We are the brand ambassadors of the college. It is important that our staff are trained professionals. Our students and faculty deserve nothing less.

When you think about our movement toward a more student-centered campus, how can the rest of the campus be more supportive of your division/department?

Nonah

We need to create a culture of support, in Instructional Services and in every department, and foster deep collaboration among classified staff and with faculty. This is the role of classified staff in Guided Pathways.

It is important for staff to be informed of all the resources available to students. We are only as strong and effective as the information we’re provided. At the classified annual retreat last week, we had a dialogue in which we exchanged what each department does and what it doesn’t do, much like the questions you’ve asked here. We will continue to collect responses and create a quick reference guide.

Professional development has to be relevant. In the staff development plan, we outlined workshops which align with the Vision for Success goals. Classified staff needs to be able to adapt to changes and be educated on them. AB 705, for example, may affect classified jobs and workloads. The supplemental allocation in the new funding formula, based on a point system, will be increased to 20%. We should invite students to apply for financial aid as Armineh Gourgian, one of our Financial Aid advisors, discussed in these pages in October.

Based on data from our annual survey, we are providing most of the training on classified staff’s wish list, but professional development has to be more accessible to everyone, including our colleagues at Garfield and those who work non-traditional hours – cafeteria workers, custodians, instructional aides, police officers, etc. The two-day annual retreat helps address this; we get about 75 attendees at a local venue. Another solution we are implementing is to supplement the on-campus workshops with on-line one-hour lessons. We’re lucky to have the support of the Innovation Grant which has funded a professional instructional designer to create templates which could be used to develop on-line professional development lessons. The on-line lessons will be available to all employees, including part-time classified staff, adjunct faculty, managers and administrators.

How long have you been at GCC, and what do you do here?

Richard

I have had the privilege of serving GCC since August 2007 as transfer counselor and, eventually, articulation coordinator. As transfer counselor, I realized the importance of having a robust articulation because it helps transfer bound students become more competitive and better prepared for their major. When my predecessor retired, I did not hesitate to apply for the articulation role. Not only did I help close the articulation gap a tad bit more, but I also played a key role with helping faculty on the development of the Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADTs) and Course Identification Numbering System (C-ID). I am very proud of the work we accomplished thus far. 

What do you wish people to know about your division or department that you think they might not totally understand?

Richard

The student services faculty offer an array of expertise. Many of my colleagues specialize in serving students who have physical, cognitive, financial and/or emotional challenges. We help focus on strengthening their psychosocial wellbeing by offering individualized counseling, instruction, and psycho-educational workshops and support. Counselors have to be well-versed regarding the academic requirements of transfer institutions as well as understand industry demands and criteria. It is a very nuanced job when students are often undecided or indecisive about their career choices and transfer institutions. We are very proud of the courses we teach, because, oftentimes, students come ill-equipped with the necessary academic tools to be successful in the classroom. In our career exploration courses, we require students to take, at the minimum, 3 career assessment instruments to help them better understand their strengths, interests, personality, values, and career options. In our learning strategies courses, we teach students to take effective notes, apply good test taking techniques, and more importantly, help them identify the external factors that help or hinder their academic success. Like other discipline faculty, we proudly serve as student advocates via shared governance and when a problem should arise. 

When you think about our movement toward a more student-centered campus, how can the rest of the campus be more supportive of your division/department?

Richard

I have worked at a total of 6 community colleges, and I can say with confidence that we work in a cohesive manner, especially now with the implementation of Guided Pathways initiative. Yes, there will always be some silos; however, we could improve a bit more by thinking of more creative ways to work together. Working with Dean Jan Swinton and the Workforce Development team helped me realize that we can better get acquainted with each other when given the opportunity to attend career-related conferences together—which gives us student services personnel a better appreciation of the current industry. I have had the pleasure of co-coordinating STEM and Career (Technical) Education conferences throughout the years, and I have found them to be valuable, and in my opinion, it has helped strengthen the relationship we have with discipline faculty, classified staff, and students because it takes all of us to make an event successful. I, for one, enjoy planning for career-related workshops or events; it affords me the opportunity to see my fellow colleagues in action and meet industry professionals who can educate me on what employers are looking for. Finally, being the GCC articulation coordinator is an amazing role. I not only help students with filling the gaps in articulation, but this role has given me the opportunity to meet many other faculty and classified staff members who I may never have met if it were not for this position.

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