As the fall semester continues to unfold, it was wonderful to see the re-emergence of activities on campus. Our sports teams are in full swing. The annual plant sale is on until October 19, and our Culinary Arts program has lunch meals to purchase on Wednesdays. I viewed an emotional exhibit in the Art Gallery titled “Mom, I Can't Do This Anymore”. The exhibit focused on themes of mental illness, suicide, healing, and the bond between daughter and mother.
In tandem with this, the opportunities to meet in-person college partners and community groups is expanding. I was the guest of the AAUW at an evening event to acknowledge past AAUW scholarship awardees. There were six current or former Mendocino College students there to share their stories. I was also interviewed for the October Newsletter of the California Retired Teachers Association Mendocino branch. Read it here: https://div55.calrta.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2021/10/RTA-Bark-10.21-master-pdf.pdf .
I was invited, along with Trustee Nickerman, to give a brief presentation to the Mendocino Law Enforcement Advisory Committee. It was beneficial to meet the leaders of the law enforcement agencies in the county and to share the programs (degree/certificate) Mendocino College has in relation to criminal justice and law enforcement. These connections will strengthen our alignment with regional workforce needs.
In Lake County, I was able to introduce myself to Kelseyville Unified Superintendent McQueen and Clear Lake High School Principal Roderick. We have a strong partnership with these school districts and they applauded the work done at the Lake Center under the leadership of Dean Amanda Xu and were excited with Director Monica Flores joining the Lake Center team.
Through an introduction by Trustee Anderson, I was able to meet with the Lake County Health Programs Coordinator. We met at our Lake County Center. We discussed how our two agencies could work together to increase awareness on many health issues facing Lake County.
Coastside, the Blue Economy Coalition continue to meet. Biology instructor Briana Zuber, Dean Xu, and Vice President Polak represent Mendocino College. As part of this work, there is planning for a May 2022 multi-day event in Fort Bragg. The City of Fort Bragg and the Noyo Center are the lead groups for this work.
Graduations are always fun. I have the pleasure of attending the second cohort graduation for the ULC Arborist program. Seven students participated in the cohort.
Vice President Cichocki volunteered to serve on a peer review team as part of the ACCJC accreditation process. Peer review is a critical part of the accreditation process and, while very time consuming, it is also rewarding. Serving as a peer reviewer serves the college being reviewed and benefits the participant as well as their home college through exposure to best practices at other colleges.
On October 1, the Equity Workgroup of the Guided Pathways Leadership Team coordinated the first of a series of planned Equity bookclub meetings. Close to 20 adjunct and full-time faculty participated, half zooming in from across the state. The group discussed the first half of Geneva Gay's influential work Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research and Practice and brainstormed how her ideas could be applied to their own teaching. Those who were able to attend in person enjoyed lunch together beforehand by Pomo Plaza. Several more books are planned for this year including Ungrading this fall and Grading for Equity in the spring semester.
With the 2022-23 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and California Dream Act Application (CADAA) now available, the financial aid staff has begun their yearly outreach to all high schools in our district. Starting with Laytonville High School on October 5, staff will host in-person and virtual workshops to provide students with information on financial aid and scholarships and provide assistance in submitting their FAFSA or Dream Act applications. In total, financial aid staff will visit 12 schools and tribal education centers to provide vital assistance to future Mendocino College students. Financial Aid staff will also provide virtual and in-person workshops to assist current students who need additional assistance with completing the 2022-23 FAFSA and CA Dream Act Applications.
On September 8, CAMP hosted Xicana Code Switchers who presented “Podcasting as a Tool for Digital Storytelling”. The workshop highlighted Xicana Code Switchers Podcast co-host Patricia and Ariana who have interviewed 35+ guests within the past 2.5 years. In this workshop they discussed topics on how podcasting has provided a space for Ariana, Patricia and podcast guests in taking ownership of their stories, critically reflecting on their roles in higher education spaces, and using their voices to empower others. Both co-hosts are first generation, immigrant, and higher education professionals who have worked in various universities. They are passionate about helping students and families navigate college and beyond. The goal of the workshops was to expose CAMP scholars to using technology, podcasting specifically, to create voice in a time were we have gone virtual. Using technology to expand their experiences and connect with others in similar situations.
CAMP staff hosted two scholar/parent CAMP orientation presentations on Sept 16. We hosted two sessions so that we would be able to connect with as many scholars and parents as possible. Since we had a good number of CAMP scholars enroll/join CAMP after the New Student Welcome, this was an opportunity to remind scholars of what the program entails, a reminder about their responsibilities and what CAMP staff is doing to support them. This also gave us all an opportunity to connect and answer questions or concerns CAMP scholars had so far in the semester. We also provided more information on on-campus resources.
CAMP director met with HEP director and Migrant Education staff/team on Sept 29. We discussed each programs objectives/goals, recruitment and outreach strategies and what support might be needed from each program. We established dates for recruitment presentations for the 2021-2022 academic year. We also established next meeting dates to continue to provide information on the status of our programs and ways to support each other. While the Migrant Education Region 2 coordinator is part of the CAMP advisory board, this meeting was a good opportunity for CAMP to meet the entire Mendocino-Lake MEP staff especially their recruitment team, so that CAMP had more support while recruiting in areas like Fort Bragg, Lake, and Anderson Valley. The next meeting will include participation from all of CAMP staff.
We have increased our Adjunct Counselor pool. We have two new adjuncts that will be going to the board meeting this month to assist us support students at our centers and with our programs. Specifically, we will be adding counseling support to our North County Center to support evening and Saturday (Weekend to Success initiative) hours. Funds have been identified to provide additional support for our Dream Center as they work to assist our AB 450/DACA students. To this end, we have identified two adjunct counselors that have a rich and unique experience in supporting Dreamers through the often discouraging steps required to engage in a college education experience. These services will include hybrid, in person and remote support for students.
Our DSPS Department attended a CAPED training titled Focusing on Student Success as We Pivot Back to Campus. The takeaway, was that we at the college and our DSPS program and services are up to date with best practices during remote services and in our planning for safely returning to in person services. The Department is scheduled to attend the Fall CAPED conference scheduled for in person at South Lake Tahoe.
The initial three-year grant with the CalFresh specialized program concluded at the end of September. However, we are now entering an additional three-year contract agreement to continue with CalFresh outreach. Despite the challenges caused by the pandemic and transitioning to remote services, we have maintained regular contact, communication and reported on our efforts to find workarounds to increase student enrollment in the CalFresh program and services. Due to our due diligence towards these efforts, we will receive extended funding, allowing us to offer a full-time Student Life Coordinator that will be funded through threaded funding, primarily through CalFresh.
Towards the end of September, multiple student support departments implemented a queue management technology. This technology, which still being tested, allows students to enter a virtual line instead of having to stand in a physical line in our different areas. Students are able to see wait times for these departments on their phone and can check in to a spot in the virtual line before they get to campus. This service allows us to continue enhancing the safety and transparency of our services. Additionally, this technology will help us keep better track of student traffic to make more data-driven decisions regarding scheduling, staffing and support.
The Career Hub, in partnership with Leadership Mendocino, was thrilled to meet with the Caring Kitchen teen volunteers. All teens completed the Career Coach Assessment and print outs of their results to share with friends and family. We had a great time discussing careers and the educational path required to reach the end goal. Teens enjoyed exploring different regions of California and how it affects the median salary and annual job openings for their identified career goals.
The 15th annual Plowshares’ Empty Bowls event took place on October 9. Over the past 15 years, Mendocino College ceramics professors, instructors, instructional assistants, and students have made and donated over 2000 bowls to this important cause. This year, Mendocino College Culinary Arts students made minestrone soup for the event. The concept is that artists make bowls, and the soup kitchen fills them at the fundraiser. At the end of the event, all leave with an "Empty Bowl", serving as a reminder of the hunger that far too many of our fellow citizens take to bed with them every night. 100 percent of the funds raised from this event goes towards the Plowshares Meal-On-Wheels and Community Dining Room Programs. The event was born in the spring of 2006 when Mendocino College Professor Emeritus Larry MacLeitch and Professor Doug Browe were talking under the Oaks about a similar event that had taken place in Michigan. MacLeitch was the President of Plowshares at the time and the two decided it would be an excellent fundraiser for the local non-profit.