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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.
The Firefly Cafe has opened in Boyertown offering vegetarian/vegan breakfast and lunch options.
The cafe, owned by Michael and Loriann, uses the best locally sourced ingredients to prepare their delicious and healthy food. So far, the reviews are very positive from folks around the area.
The hours of operations are:
Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. ’til 2 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. ’til 4 p.m.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fireflycafeboyertown/
Their menu is found on the website so you can peruse their selections.
We hope you get the opportunity to check them out and support a local business who uses locally sourced ingredients! We hope they succeed!
Blue Bell, PA—PECO President and CEO Craig L. Adams will deliver Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) 2016 Commencement address on May 19 at 7 p.m. in Blue Bell. Adams also serves on the board of directors of MontcoWorks, Montgomery County’s Workforce Investment Board.
“Partnerships between education and industry are essential for developing a comprehensive workforce development strategy. Montgomery County Community College and MontcoWorks share a vision—to build a 21st-century workforce and to strengthen the economic vitality of our communities,” said Dr. Kevin Pollock, MCCC president.
MCCC’s graduates provide much-needed human resources to the County and Commonwealth. According to a 2014 graduate survey, 68 percent of MCCC alumni are employed in Montgomery County and 97 percent are employed in Pennsylvania. In addition, a 2013 study by Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) reveals that the average income at the career midpoint of someone with an associate’s degree in Montgomery County is 35 percent higher than someone with only a high school diploma.
The partnership between PECO and MCCC is an outstanding example of education and industry working together to strengthen the community’s workforce. For more than a decade, the organizations have collaborated to enhance student access and success and to help students complete their education and find gainful employment in their careers.
In honor of MCCC’s 50th anniversary in 2015, PECO awarded $25,000 in scholarships to 50 high-achieving STEM students to help defray the cost of tuition, textbooks, lab supplies and other program-related costs. PECO also supported Engineering Innovation, a collaborative effort between MCCC and Johns Hopkins University that provides an academically challenging summer program to high school students who aspire to pursue careers in engineering.
In addition to these, PECO has supported MCCC’s LEAD Institute, a program for underserved, at-risk high school juniors and seniors; Minority Student Mentoring Initiative, which helps African-American and Latino students reach their educational goals; Upward Bound, a program that encourages Norristown and Pottstown high school students to pursue higher education; and Gateway to College, a national initiative that helps at-risk students graduate from high school and earn college credits.
“PECO values education and is especially supportive of Montgomery County Community College’s efforts to improve college readiness and to build a pipeline of professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM),” said Pollock. “I have no doubt that Mr. Adams’ keynote will motivate and inspire this year’s graduates.”
As president and CEO of PECO, Adams is responsible for leading PECO’s overall performance, delivering innovation and advancing smart energy to provide safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy and energy services to customers. He also guides the company’s philanthropic efforts, which provide more than $5 million annually to hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the region.
Civically, Adams holds board positions with a number of educational and community organizations in the Philadelphia area. He is president of the board of directors at Camphill Special School and chairman of the board of LEADERSHIP Philadelphia. He also is a board member of WHYY, the American Gas Association (AGA) and the Energy Association of Pennsylvania (EAP). He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from the State University of New York in Albany.
Allentown, PA — Muhlenberg College dancers tell their stories through movement, as the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department presents “Dance Emerge,” a showcase for dance works created by emerging choreographers, April 13-16 in the College’s Studio Theatre. Jeffrey Peterson is the artistic director for the concert.
“Choreographers in this year’s ‘Dance Emerge’ are honoring their own unique voices as they create personal dances which celebrate the joys of life and unearth the depths of their souls,” Peterson says. “The journey for the audience will undoubtedly juxtapose the human experience with quirky character-driven studies and more intimate work — all blending physical skill with choreographic imagination.”
“Dance Emerge” will showcase 8 choreographers and 60 dancers from the department’s dance program, which is among the most highly regarded programs of its kind. The concert features costume and lighting designs by the department’s acclaimed professional staff.
The eight original dances include contemporary jazz, dance theater, and modern works that investigate such topics as aging, censorship, and the individual vs. the whole. Choreographers drew inspiration from such diverse sources as dance history, travel, personal relationships, and college experiences.
Muhlenberg College’s Theatre & Dance Department offers one of the top-rated college performance programs in the county, according to the Princeton Review rankings. Muhlenberg is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa., offering Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. It has been named annually among The Fiske Guide to Colleges’ top 20 small college programs in the United States, and the American College Dance Festival Association has consistently recognized dances premiered on the Muhlenberg stage for excellence in choreography and performance.
“Dance Emerge” runs April 13-16 in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
Performances are April 13-16: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 16, at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for patrons 17 and under, and $8 for students, faculty and staff of all LVAIC colleges. For groups of 15 or more, tickets are $13
Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or http://www.muhlenberg.edu/dance.
Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.—Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) will join communities across the world in celebrating Earth Day 2016 with a series of activities that engage students, faculty and community members with the institution’s sustainability efforts.
MCCC’s celebration kicks off on Monday, April 18 with the grand opening of the college’s Sustainability and Innovation Hub, located 140 College Drive in Pottstown. The opening marks the completion of the multiphase Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center project, which transformed a former energy substation and three-acre Brownfield site into a state-of-the-art center for STEM education, conservation and recreation. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m., followed by tours of the Sustainability and Innovation Hub, as well as tours of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area’s Interpretative Center.
Prior to ceremony, MCCC’s West Campus will host a Sustainability Fair in its South Hall, 101 College Drive, from noon-1 p.m. The fair will highlight many of the College’s green practices and STEM-related academic programming.
MCCC’s observation of Earth Day continues on Wednesday, April 20 at noon with a Sustainability Festival in the Advanced Technology Center at the Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. The festival will feature sustainable student and College exhibits, as well as information and activities from green vendors and community organizations. Assistant Professor of Biology Jerry Coleman will also offer a walking tour of a proposed trail route that will pass through MCCC’s Central Campus, weather permitting.
Following the Sustainability Festival on Wednesday, April 20, MCCC’s Student Environmental Sustainability Club will host a discussion with Montgomery County Recycling Coordinator Veronica Harris in Science Center room 308 from 2-3 p.m.
During Earth Day events at both campuses, MCCC’s Ceramics Club, in collaboration with the Inter-Faith Housing Alliance in Ambler, will be selling handmade bowls as part of its Empty Bowls Project—an international grassroots effort to raise awareness in the fight to end hunger. Individuals who purchase a bowl—or who bring their own bowl—can receive a 25-cent discount off the purchase of soup in MCCC’s cafeterias.
Since signing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, sustainability has become a core value at Montgomery County Community College and is incorporated into the institution’s strategic plan, core curriculum, and in everyday best practices as they relate to facilities management, campus operations and transportation. A team of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members comprise the Climate Commitment Advisory Council, which guides MCCC’s sustainability efforts toward attaining carbon neutrality by 2050.
Volunteer Day! We need YOU!
It’s time to start creating our community center! The basement has been cleared out, beams added, April 23rd we’ll be installing stud walls. We can use people with some “construction” experience to help. We will also be painting, working on trails, clearing areas for our “playground features”, and more…. something for everyone! Please come!
Saturday, April 23rd, starting at 9am
We’ll be there all day.
Picnic lunch provided!
Rain date: Sunday, 24th
We have some but can use more if you’d like to bring them!
If you’re willing to work on the house: Nail gun, electric saw, tools in general
Outside work: Need shovels, rakes, clippers
Painting: Bring extra brushes, extension roller, scraper
Everyone: Work Gloves!
Friends of the Arboretum
Monday, May 2nd, 7pm
2019 Mimosa Lane
(around the corner from the Arboretum, off Snyder Road)
So much going on! Find out what’s happening, add your ideas!
(Here’s more about the Friends)
And the Winner Is…
PENN”S WOODS TRAIL!
Watch for your chance to participate in making this a model of native plants and education.
Time to sign up for Summer Camp! Three choices this year: Water Week, Wildlife Week and Outdoor Science Week. Discount when you sign up for all three!
- GreenAllies received a grant to complete the Arboretum’s Master Plan including a Low Ropes Course and a Children’s Forest Trail. Work will begin this spring and continue throughout 2016.
- Franklin Institute will provide the funding for GreenAllies to run a Climate Change Action Summit for college students at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. College volunteers will be trained in climate action projects for middle and high school students for the purpose of serving as mentors during the upcoming school year. The goal is to inspire student environmental projects across the region.
- Emerald Ash Borer: The invasive insect is forcing the township to cut down all the ash trees near trails and other “targets” throughout the township. Althouse Arboretum has over 200 ash trees on its property. Plans are being formulated to cut some trees immediately; monitor and cut other ash trees when needed in the future; and to SAVE some of the most important trees through chemical treatment. Looking for supporters to sponsor a tree and help fund the chemical treatment to SAVE THE TREES.
|Date of Event:||4/16/2016|
|Time of Event:||1:00 PM – 3:00 PM|
|Description:||Join us on Saturday, April 16 from 1-3 pm on the grounds of Pottstown High School for this free event! PEAK, Pottstown’s school readiness initiative is partnering with Pottstown YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day. Fun family activities and resources from more than 40 community organizations are being planned along with music from D.J. Steve, moon bounce, celebrated mascots, and Pipper the Clown to name a few. The YMCA will be providing fitness activities and more. We thank Pottstown Memorial Medical Center http://www.PottstownMemorial.com for once again being the main sponsor for April’s PEAK Month of the Young Child events. For more information contact Jane Bennett – email@example.com or 610-256-6370, http://www.peakonline.org.|
|Location:||Pottstown High School
750 N. Washington St
Pottstown, PA 19464
Pottstown, PA—Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) West End Student Theatre and Theatre Arts program are proud to present “A Lie of the Mind,” a darkly comic family drama by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Sam Shepard. Show dates are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 21-23, at 7 p.m., with a 12:30 p.m. performance Friday, April 22. All performances will be held in the College’s South Hall Community Room, 101 College Drive, Pottstown.
Tickets cost $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, please visit http://www.mc3.edy/livelyarts or call 215-641-6518. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Laurel House, offering services for victims of domestic abuse and their families.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard’s “A Lie of the Mind” follows two families in the Montana plains, connected by one marriage and a brutal incident which leaves the wife, Beth, in her family’s care. Filled with enormous vitality, and humor, it explores the destinies of Jake and Beth, torn apart by jealousies and distrust, welded together by the needs of the human heart and the destructiveness which it can engender.
“This is the reason why I feel art is so powerful,” says director Samantha Clarke. “One in four women will experience abuse in their life. With numbers like that, it’s hard not to accept that abuse knows no race, gender, socioeconomic status, or creed. However, abuse, harassment, and discrimination often go without a voice; this play gives us a voice in which to speak for those who cannot, will not, or know not how.” This production contains adult language and themes.
In conjunction with the production, the students of West End Student Theatre will be creating a ‘Post Secret’ wall to offer a voice for members of the community who are facing domestic abuse, bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Anonymous drop boxes will be available on campus, and students and community members may leave a note to be posted on the ‘Post Secret’ wall at the South Hall Community Room during performances.
“The drop boxes will also have resources and literature available,” says West End Student Theatre advisor Tim Gallagher. “We want the opportunity to speak to empower the members of our community who are dealing with these issues.”
Samantha Clarke and stage managed by Morgan Carasquillo, the cast includes Kayla Velasquez, Eric Reyes, Hailee Tyson, Tess Devlin, Hunter Thorsen, Tyler Sanderson, and Joe Donley. The production is designed, produced and presented by the students of the West End Student Theatre, under the guidance of Tim Gallagher and Christopher Kleckner.