Go to this link for additional information
A unique Soundhealing experience
Join Lynn Miller for a therapeutic Sound session at the
Healing Arts Studio in Phoenixville, PA
Lynn has a special tool, a Svaram soundbed (a wooden massage table with 50 strings underneath.) As one lays on the table, she plays the strings underneath giving a vibrational massage. The session also uses Tibetan sound bowls, Native flutes and voice. The vibrations nurture the emotional-physical system which can move energy releasing blockages. This tuning of the system leaves a feeling of regeneration, well-being and harmony.
Additional info: Spiritarts.us
Malvern, PA –Hoover Financial Advisors, P.C. (HFA) recently added Edward (Ted) Braun, CFP® to its growing staff. Braun is a financial planner with outstanding credentials. His appointment was announced by Pete Hoover, CFP®, founder of the firm.
Prior to joining HFA, Braun was a project manager in Financial Advisor Services at The Vanguard Group. He began his career at Vanguard and held various leadership positions during his tenure. In 2014, Vanguard awarded him a Financial Advisor Services Divisional Star. Prior to that he earned a Participant Experience Divisional Spirit Award from the company.
Braun, who holds a BBA degree from Strayer University, completed his financial planning education at Kaplan University. He is a resident of Kennett Square.
“Hoover Financial Advisors offers exactly what I was looking for,” says Braun. “It is a place where I can build my career and make a difference in people’s lives.”
HFA, which is headquartered on Moores Road in Malvern, was launched in 2005 by Pete Hoover, who has been an independent financial advisor for more than 30 years. Since its inception, HFA has quadrupled in size. Staff members include certified financial planners, financial advisors, investment analysts, insurance and tax specialists, attorneys, a certified portfolio manager, and an information services manager. In 2012, HFA was selected as Small Business of the Year by Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry. For more information, visit its website at http://www.petehoover.com or call 610.651.2777.
This yearly event is a fun-filled day with activities for all ages including games, music, dancing, and crafts. Tucker’s Tales Puppet Theatre will present interactive puppet shows and will also provide festive historic music around the grounds during the event. Signora Bella will delight audiences with her acrobatic feats. Colonial conjurer Levram the Great will perform historically-themed magic shows and entertain visitors with pocket magic tricks throughout the day. Members of the Tapestry Historic Dance Ensemble will demonstrate authentic English country dances. As always, visitors will be invited to join in and dance around the maypole to help open and close the fair!
In addition to the entertainment, a variety of early American crafters and demonstrators will be on hand to display historic skills and trades and sell their wares. Young visitors will have the chance to meet colonial farm animals, watch a blacksmith at work, see how candles were made, play with colonial toys, try an 18th-century bat-and-ball game, dance around a child-size maypole, help churn butter, and more! New this year, the site will also be offering free make-and-take crafts for kids.
The first floor of colonial ironmaster John Potts’ 1752 manor house will be open for self-guided tours during the fair. Visitors will also be able to shop at the manor’s museum shop for colonial games, books, and unique gifts. MMG Concessions will offer a variety of refreshments for sale, including burgers, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, sausages, sandwiches, fries, hand-rolled pretzels, and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
The fair coincides with the third annual “Pow-Wow on Manatawny Creek,” celebrating the culture and traditions of the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans. The pow-wow will be taking place during the hours of May Fair and will be held at Memorial Park, less than a block from Pottsgrove Manor. The public is encouraged to visit both events for an experience that spans time periods and cultures!
For a schedule of the day’s activities and a list of vendors and craftspeople that will be at the fair, please visit http://www.montcopa.org/1421/Annual-Colonial-May-Fair.
A donation of $2.00 per person is suggested for this event. Visitors can park for free at the Carousel at Pottstown building, 30 West King Street. Limited overflow parking is available at the Pottstown Quality Inn across the street from the Manor. Paid parking is also available in the “shop & park” lot at High and Hanover Streets in downtown Pottstown. There will be free trolley rides during the fair between the carousel parking lot, the pow-wow at Memorial Park, downtown Pottstown, and Pottsgrove Manor.
Handicapped parking is available in the museum’s parking lot.
Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Pottsgrove Manor is operated by Montgomery
County under the direction of the Parks, Trails, and Historic Sites Division of the Assets and Infrastructure Department. For more information, please call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor. Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pottsgrovemanor.
Blue Bell/Pottstown, PA —Montgomery County Community College is pleased to announce the appointment of Eleanor M. Dezzi, of Gladwyne, to its Board of Trustees by the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. The 15-person Board of Trustees is the policy and governing body of Montgomery County Community College.
Dezzi is chair of the board and past president of The Dezzi Group, Ltd., a full-service government relations and business consulting firm in Philadelphia. She is a political commentator for Fox 29 and NBC 10 in Philadelphia, and she co-founded the Genevieve Society, an organization to promote professional women in the political and corporate world. In 2015, Dezzi served as an executive producer of the documentary film Urban Trinity, which was produced as part of the Papal visit.
Since the beginning of her career, Dezzi has been active in civic and political causes and has worked on campaigns at the federal, state and local levels. She has served on many boards in the region, including the Philadelphia Archdiocesan School Board, the Blue Ribbon Commission to study the future of Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and the President’s Council at Gwynedd Mercy University.
Dezzi has been honored by numerous organizations. She is one of the few women to receive the St. John the Baptist de La Salle Medal for Distinguished Service to the Christian Brothers. In 2000, she was named the March of Dimes Woman of the Year in the field of Business, and in 2001, she received the “Women Making History Award” from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). In 2007, The Philadelphia Business Journal named her among its Women of Distinction.
Along with her husband Alfred, Dezzi received the St. Jeanne Jugan Award in recognition of their service to the Little Sisters of the Poor and the elderly poor of Philadelphia. Most recently, in 2015, Dezzi was named the Ambassador of Hope for the City of Hope National Cancer Center.
Blue Bell, PA — Over the past two years, Montgomery County Community College’s Office Assistant Certificate program, offered through the national Job Ready, Willing and Able (JRWA) Initiative, has helped dozens of unemployed workers find jobs.
Patricia Karpinski, Hatboro, was one of those workers. She found herself out of a job after her employer of 27 years ceased operations.
“I was nervous, as I had spent so much time in the food industry. I was not sure what to do next,” she recalled.
Karpinski heard about Office Assistant program at MCCC and decided to give it a try. Today, she works as an office manager, thanks to the training she received.
“I am sure that I would not have been asked to interview nor offered the job had it not been for this course,” she explained. “The lessons and practice gave me the skills I needed.”
In the 16-week, competency-based Office Assistant Certificate program, students learn critical computer literacy and other skills expected by employers in business environments. Course modules include Business Software Essentials, Microsoft Word Applications and Modern Office Management. The program also provides built-in job placement assistance and a coach to guide students through the training and certificate completion.
“I liked the modules and materials that were covered, including the Microsoft Office applications,” said Karpinski. “I needed to see what skills were currently needed in the marketplace, and the Business Software Essentials module really opened my eyes to the latest technology used in offices and companies.”
The next cohort of MCCC’s Office Assistant Certificate program will run from May 23-Sept. 7. Prospective students can learn more about the program by attending information sessions on May 10 from noon-1:30 p.m. or May 11 from 6-7:30 p.m. in room 101 of the Advanced Technology Center at MCCC’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.
The Office Assistant Certificate program is primarily taught online, with optional open computer labs on Mondays from 6-9 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-noon. Labs are held at MCCC’s Central Campus.
After completing the certificate program, students may pursue the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam for Microsoft Word 2013. This sought-after credential provides students with marketable skills that will further increase their chances for employment. In addition, students who complete the certificate can apply the courses to MCCC’s Office Management credit certificate program.
The cost of the Office Assistant Certificate program is $495, which includes instruction, workshops, course textbooks and the Microsoft Office Certification exam fee. Deferred payment is available to those who qualify. To learn more or to apply, call 215-461-1468 or email JobTrakPA@mc3.edu.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, office and administrative support occupations comprise one of the largest occupation groups in the Commonwealth. The Center for Workforce Information and Analysis projects 105 annual openings in this field in Montgomery County. Additionally, there is a growing need in the Montgomery County region for general office clerks, with an expected 338 annual openings in the County and an estimated 14,620 total jobs in 2016.
Through JRWA, MCCC joins 16 other community colleges across the country in providing middle-skills training, industry recognized credentials, and access to employment across varying industry sectors for unemployed individuals. The initiative is funded by a three-year grant from the Walmart Foundation and is led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
We are the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing The Secret Valley Line and restoring its services to offer the greatest turn-of-the-century railroading experience in the nation.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Colebrookdale Railroad. Quite literally, the train doesn’t roll down the tracks without them.
Our volunteers are:
the source of all accomplishments of our programs
the most critical and unique resource we have
the leaders in our organization
committed long-term with frequent participation
committed to a safe, productive, and cohesive workplace
responsible for our future
Our dedicated family of volunteers does everything from track work, to passenger car restoration, to operations.
If you have what it takes to work on the railroad, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org! Be sure to include the words, “I Want to Volunteer” in the subject line.
o To serve as a catalyst for economic development in Southeastern Pennsylvania through the preservation and interpretation of the historic, cultural, and natural heritage of the middle Schuylkill Region, birthplace of the American iron industry.
o To establish national-caliber heritage and recreational anchor attraction around an authentic Edwardian-era experience of the sort offered on the grand limited trains of the 1900-1920 era by developing the Colebrookdale Railroad, its infrastructure, equipment, and real estate, and by building local and regional partnerships.
Happy Earth Day to all of our supporters, gardeners, volunteers and to those who care about gardens (and our planet)!
Our Home Garden Contest is Also Near – Enter Today!
Home Garden Contest
Mosaic’s Annual Home Garden Contest is underway! Contest details, categories and a list of awesome prizes can be viewed athttp://www.homegardencontest.com/. This year, you can enter the contest online! Kudos, to The Pottstown Mercury Fit for Life, the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation, Colonial Garden, Pine Hill Tree Farms, Achin’ Bank, the Pottstown Garden Club and others for your support!
Another Note of Thanks!
Mosaic wants to also thank Genesis Housing, Pottstown School District, XL Insurance, our private supporters and other volunteers for your continued support of our community garden and land trust initiatives!
Donating Made Easy – Use AmazonSmile
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. Preservation Pottstown (our 501c3 registered name, also known as Mosaic CLT) is now available as your charitable organization on Amazon Smile! The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. The purchase price is the amount paid for the item minus any rebates and excluding shipping & handling, gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges. Use smile.amazon.com and choose Preservation Pottstown as your designated non-profit organization you wish to donate to!
Pottstown, PA —Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) University Center, in partnership with its Career Services and the TriCounty Community Network (TCN), will be hosting a Mobile Job Lab and Open House on Monday, May 2, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the University Center, 95 S. Hanover Street, Pottstown. The Mobile Job Lab and Open House are open to the community as well as MCCC students.
At the Mobile Job Lab, MCCC’s Career Services representatives and volunteers from TCN will assist participants with searching for jobs, writing resumes and using LinkedIn to create career profiles and broaden their networks. The services are free, and walk-ins are welcome.
During the Open House, visitors can meet with representatives from the University Center’s partners—Albright College, Cabrini College, Chestnut Hill College, Immaculata University and Temple University—to learn about their programs and available degrees and certificates. MCCC representatives also will be on hand to provide information about the Virtual Campus and admission process.
MCCC’s University Center will be hosting future Mobile Job Labs on June 6, Aug. 1, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5.
For more information about the University Center, visit http://www.mc3.edu/university-center.
For updates, like and follow the University Center on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UniversityCenterMC3.
LEHIGH VALLEY, PA – The Lehigh Valley Arts Council is presenting 3 complimentary workshops in Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties in effort to support applicants in the planning stages of the 2016-2017 Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA) Project Stream grant application process.
“The PPA Project Stream is a critical source of state and federal funding for eligible individuals, community groups and nonprofit organizations interested in conducting arts projects with a clear public component,” stated Randall Forte, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley Arts Council. “As our region’s partner, we have accepted as many as 60 requests in any given year, awarding grants to community projects including, but not limited to exhibitions, films and performances that impact a wide range of constituents from young children to senior citizens, regardless of ability, ethnicity, culture or socioeconomic status.”
The keys to successfully navigating the Project Stream application process lie in a deeper understanding of content, format and fiscal expectations set forth by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. By attending one of the following workshops, applicants will gain a thorough understanding of review criteria, suggestions for constructing compelling and comprehensive narratives and guidance in building detailed project budgets.
Applicants are encouraged to RSVP and attend one of the following workshops:
May 10, 2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Lehigh Valley Arts Council; 840 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA
May 12, 2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation; 20 West Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA
May 24, 2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Touchstone Theatre; 321 E. Fourth Street, Bethlehem, PA
Josh Blue, the celebrated comedian who uses his own affliction with cerebral palsy as part of his routine, will perform in Easton at 7 p.m. June 14 at Lafayette College, Easton, Pa. The event is sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, in cooperation with the Williams Center for the Arts at Lafayette, to celebrate LVAC’s yearlong Arts & Access program, a call for Valley arts organizations to be more inclusive of persons with disabilities.
Blue was the grand prize winner at the Las Vegas Comedy Festival, has appeared on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and is a favorite on the college comedy circuit. He is known for his ability to improvise and encourage his audience to overcome preconceived notions about people who are labeled as “disabled.”
A recent L.V. Research Consortium survey revealed that more than 13 percent of the Valley’s population has a disability and that this population grows by about three percent per year.
“Josh Blue is the ideal ambassador for greater inclusion of the disabled,” says LVAC Executive Director Randall Forte. “We are overwhelmed at the success of the first year of Arts & Access, particularly with the enthusiasm of our participating arts organizations.”
Since June 14 is also Flag Day, the program has been tagged “Red, White and Blue.” Invitations are in the mail to Arts Council members and the clients of Lehigh Valley non-profit agencies serving clients with challenges such as blindness, deafness, autism and other disabilities. A limited number of tickets will also be available to the public, particularly for individuals with disabilities, by calling LVAC at 610-437-5915.
The event marks the culmination of the Arts Council’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The LVAC program was a response to a request by the L.V. Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community to encourage local arts organizations to reconsider how their offerings can better serve disabled individuals.
For example, the Josh Blue event will be interpreted by an American Sign Language practitioner, will be audio-described, and the hand-out program will be available in Braille and large print versions. LVAC offers arts groups assistance and lends the special equipment needed for audio description.
As a result of Arts & Access, 30 cultural organizations have teamed with social service agencies over the past year to provide greater accommodation at more than 50 disability-friendly events, including sensory-friendly performances for children with autism, movement classes for Parkinson’s patients, audio-described and open-captioned theatrical performances, lectures, exhibitions, poetry readings, film screenings, and public meetings. LVAC reports that as a result of Arts & Access 2015-16, 589 people with disabilities attended those events, accompanied by 705 family members and friends.
For supporting documents and materials, please click here: http://www.lvartscouncil.org/red-white-and-blue/
Pottstown, PA —Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) Software Developer Academy (SDA) will offer the first course in its new, part-time iOS Developer Program in Pottstown starting June 6.
The inaugural, seven-week course—iOS Application Development—will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-10 p.m. at MCCC’s West Campus in the Sustainability and Innovation Hub, 140 College Drive, Pottstown. Optional, guided lab time will be available to students on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The course runs through July 28. To learn more, visit http://www.mc3.edu/sda.
Through a generous gift made to MCCC’s Foundation, students who are selected for admission into the inaugural course will receive full-tuition scholarship, valued up to $2,350. Supplemental hardware may also be provided based on need.
The iOS Developer Program is designed to prepare students to become entry-level mobile developers who are capable of creating applications for Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. In the first course students will learn to use the appropriate programming languages and tools necessary to work as professional iOS developers.
“Our goal is for students to learn the skills they need to work as developers. But, just as important, they’ll also learn how to be positive and contributing members of the technical community, which is critical for their career development,” explained Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jason Wertz, who is coordinating MCCC’s SDA.
According to Wertz, the program is ideal for existing developers who are looking to change careers or for programmers who are new to the industry. To be considered for admission, applicants should have at least one year, or equivalent, of programming experience in a modern object-oriented programming language like C# or Java. This prerequisite can be met through work experience or coursework. Prior knowledge of iOS is not required.
Prospective students must complete an online application, available at http://www.mc3.edu/sda, as well as an in-person or video chat interview. Admission decisions will be made within a week of the interview.
Future courses in the iOS Developer Program will include Advanced iOS Application Development; User Interface, User Experience and Accessibility Design; Development Methodologies; Career and Personal Development; and Developer Essentials.
Allentown, PA — Now in its third year, the student-directed Muhlenberg Circus Workshop will take the stage again this spring with another original contemporary circus performance. Running April 21-24, “VOD” takes up the story of Pandora’s Box, in the setting of a post-World War II traveling circus.
Written and directed by two of the Circus Workshop cofounders, seniors Noah S. Dach and Henry Evans, “VOD” will showcase the talents of 14 aerialists, acrobats, dancers, jugglers, actors, tappers, and acrobats. New in this year’s production is a performance featuring Chinese pole dancing. Another senior, Tyler Holoboski, choreographs the production.
This year’s production will be presented in Muhlenberg’s 120-seat Studio Theatre, a blackbox style space with flexible seating. Dach says the audience will enter to an empty space, and then witness its dramatic transformation into a 1940s circus tent.
“‘VOD’ is the story of humanity’s modern Pandora’s Box,” he says. “It’s set in the period when mankind developed and atomic bomb — the moment when we acquired the ability to extinguish ourselves and our world.”
The production follows the success of last season’s sold out circus production “Atlas,” a contemporary circus adaptation of the Alice in Wonderland story. The group operates under the artistic supervision of Muhlenberg’s Dance Program chair, Karen Dearborn.
“Karen has gone above and beyond for her students and has given everyone that has been a part of the Circus Workshop an unforgettable and truly life altering opportunity,” Dach says. “Without her inspiring vision, care, and dedication, this program would not be where it is today.”
Dach, Evans, and other graduating members of the Workshop have plans to go pro after graduating this spring. They spent spring break this year scouting locations and laying the groundwork for the Atlas Circus Company. The company seeks to create a new kind of narrative circus performance, catalyze circus education around the country, and build a home for circus artists in America. They further describe their plans at http://www.atlascircus.com
“VOD” runs April 21-24 in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
Performances are Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 3 and 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundy at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for patrons 17 and under, and $8 for students, faculty and staff of all LVAIC colleges. Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or http://www.muhlenberg.edu/dance.
Allentown, PA — “Ulysses,” James Joyce’s 1922 epic widely regarded as one of the most important works of modernist literature, takes the stage at Muhlenberg College, in an adaptation that director James Peck describes as “weird, sexy, and a little dangerous.” “Ulysses in Nighttown” plays April 27-30 to conclude the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department’s mainstage season.
Peck says the production employs vivid imagery, unconventional storytelling techniques, and Joyce’s own spectacularly vivid language to capture “a journey into the unconscious.” The play excerpts one lengthy episode of the novel (known to Joyce aficionados as the Circe episode), taking place mostly in the red-light district of Dublin, Ireland.
“The play gives shape to the desires of the three characters at the heart of ‘Ulysses,’” says Peck, a professor of theater at Muhlenberg. “It is surreal, stream-of-consciousness — we go inside the minds of the characters, experience their hallucinations and their faltering sanity. The play is coherent, but it’s coherent in the way that dreams are coherent.”
Aching for fellowship, middle-aged ad salesman Leopold Bloom pursues the alienated young novelist Stephen Dedalus on a late-night bender through Dublin’s red light district. There they find themselves confronting their feverish fears and passions, haunted by their transgressions and fetishes. Full of portent and hallucination, Joyce’s sprawling text takes a dark turn in this episode, which playwright Marjorie Barkentin has adapted as a stand-alone narrative, with context derived from the rest of the novel.
At a fundamental level, Peck says, “Ulysses in Nighttown” is the story of a friendship between two men dealing with loss — Stephen with the loss of his mother, and Bloom with the death of his child and the disintegration of his marriage to Molly, who he knows has taken to pursuing affairs with other men. But the play, like the novel, hardly lends itself to simple synopsis.
The production will feature an original musical score by percussionist Douglas Ovens, a professor and former department chair of music at Muhlenberg, who has previously provided music for “Orlando,” “The Other Shore,” “The Possibilities,” and other plays at Muhlenberg. Ovens will play the score himself in performance.
Peck says he was moved to direct the play by its storytelling challenges and by Joyce’s linguistic virtuosity — but also for more personal reasons.
“I hadn’t done anything strange for a while, and I wanted to do something strange,” he says. “I also think this is some of the most evocative English language that has ever been written. I wanted to delve into that language in the way that creating a production for the stage forces you to do.”
He continues: “I think when I was in my 20s, when I first read ‘Ulysses,’ I identified with the character of Stephen. Now in my 50s, I feel like I identify more with Bloom. When you’re younger, you feel like the world of possibilities is wide open. Then as you get older you find that as many doors are closed to you as are open. I think the play delves very deeply into that maturation, that sense of gain and simultaneous loss that comes with maturity.”
“Ulysses in Nighttown” plays April 27-30. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Regular admission tickets are $15. Tickets for youth and LVAIC students and staff are $8. The production is recommended for mature audiences.
Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre or by phone at 484-664-3333. Performances are in the Empire Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
Please reply to email@example.com if you are planning to attend either of the two absolutely-FREE workshops. Bring the kids and other family members, you are sure to have a fun, informative time!
|RUSH TICKETS AVAILABLE!
Last Minute Discount
Adult Tickets $9.99, Student Tickets $6!
|Lehigh Valley Arts Council
www.LVArtsCouncil.org ◊ www.LVArtsBoxOffice.org Rush Ticketing is a service of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. For more information, visit:
Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.—Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) is ranked as the top community college in the country for its use of technology according to a recent Digital Community Colleges Survey issued by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Education (CDE). The 250 data-point survey analyzes how community colleges use digital technologies to improve services to students, faculty, staff and the community at large.
MCCC, with campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, Pa., has ranked among the survey’s top 10 large community colleges since CDE introduced it 11 years ago. This is the fourth time MCCC has ranked first.
“Earning the top spot in CDE’s annual survey is an impressive honor. Earning it four times in the past 11 years is extraordinary. I am extremely proud of Montgomery County Community College’s faculty and staff for embracing technology and using it in creative ways to build student access and success and to improve student retention and completion,” shared MCCC President Dr. Kevin Pollock.
A key reason for MCCC’s success over the last decade is its holistic approach to using technology.
“IT innovation is no longer about the technology itself. However, when that technology is combined with vision, creativity and leadership, it has the power to revolutionize teaching and learning,” said Dr. Celeste Schwartz, vice president for information technology and research at MCCC.
At MCCC, Schwartz and her team of IT professionals play an integral role in college-wide initiatives and planning.
“It’s important for my team to see the connections between their work and the work of other areas—to understand, for example, how IT can support initiatives in Academic Affairs or Student Affairs,” said Schwartz.
Empowerment is key. MCCC’s IT team works with faculty and staff to help them leverage technology so they can make informed decisions that lead to improved student access and success. The technology can, in turn, empower students to take charge of their education.
Analytics through MCCC’s learning management system Blackboard provides an excellent opportunity. By using analytics, faculty can follow student behavior trends and can personalize the student learning environment, identify potential learning concerns and adjust the course content flow as needed.
To illustrate, MCCC Political Science Assistant Professor Jodi Empol-Schwartz worked with
Instructional Designer Mary-Kathleen Najarian to redesign course assessment based on student retention throughout the semester.
“Throughout the semester, student retention would fluctuate based on the due date of the assignment. I tried to adjust the dates, introduce rough drafts and instituted a number of failed reforms, but retention and the level of critical thinking did not change,” explained Empol-Schwartz.
She worked with Najarian to change the assignment. Instead of one large research project, she divided it into two parts—one research and one analytics. She also divided her exams into two parts—multiple choice and essay—and gave students an entire class period to complete each.
“After using Blackboard Analytics, student retention not only increased, but the students were actively engaging in critical thinking. The quality of the students’ work increased dramatically,” she said.
MCCC faculty also use predictive analytics to help students stay on the path to success.
“Analytics might not tell you the whole story, but it does give you talking points to start the conversation with a student and provide early intervention if he or she continues on the current path,” said Najarian.
The students, themselves, can also access analytics tools in Blackboard so they can see, in real time, how they are doing compared to their classmates.
“Don’t be left behind by your fear of data. You can use data to lead the pack,” said Empol-Schwartz.
Advising and Student Planning
The College’s redesigned advising process is another example of how MCCC uses technology to improve student success and completion. A grant from the Gates Foundation enabled MCCC to launch an Integrated Planning and Advising Services (IPAS) initiative as part of its Student Success Network.
Phase one of MCCC’s Student Success Network was comprised of three parts: an early alert system that enables faculty and advisors to monitor progress and identify at-risk behaviors; an educational planning tool that allows students to map out their entire degree or certificate program; and a student dashboard system that provides a single source for information about their financial aid, Blackboard engagement, early alert and education planning.
“We have seen a number of positive results. There has been an increase in student persistence as students gain greater access to planning resources and as they receive greater feedback on their progress. We have also seen increases in full- and part-time persistence rates from 2011 through 2015 for all new and returning students,” explained Assistant Professor and Academic Advisor Stefanie Crouse.
Work on phase two is underway and includes building out career exploration and financial planning components of MCCC’s Student Success Network, as well as adding additional analytics.
“This work will complement our ‘Student Success Matters’ resource: an online, open-source, interactive series of free courses we developed to educate students in the areas of financial, civic, and digital literacies,” explained Crouse.
Earlier this year, MCCC’s Virtual Campus received its first-ever “Learning! 100” award from Elearning! magazine. The award recognized the comprehensive process through which MCCC faculty design and refresh their online courses.
According to Kelly Trahan, director of MCCC’s Virtual Campus, that process is two-fold. New faculty learn how to teach online and build academic courses by participating in a collaborative course of their own—e-Learning 101 (EL 101), facilitated by an instructional designer. Meanwhile, existing online faculty engage in a “refresh” process any time curricular modifications are made.
“Our faculty are dedicated to creating a high-quality learning experience for students, regardless of location,” shared Trahan. “We also have a very strong information technology team that supports faculty and students and is always looking for the best products and tech to improve students’ experiences.”
MCCC’s Virtual Campus also offers support services to online students. Examples include online advising, access to live tutors, support discussion boards and online readiness resources.
“We have a tutorial that teaches students how to navigate Blackboard, time management and technical literacy. It’s free once they register for an online course,” said Trahan.
About the Center for Digital Education
The Center for Digital Education is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy, and funding. CDE provides education and industry leaders with decision support and actionable insight to help effectively incorporate new technologies in the 21st century.
CDE is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education. To learn more, visit centerdigitaled.com.