Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mistakes to avoid when applying for financial aid

Financial aid helps put community college within reach for thousands of Virginians, but a few common mistakes and misconceptions can prove costly. VCCS Director of Financial Aid, Laurie Owens, offers some insights on how to navigate a path to success.
1. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is available Jan. 1, but students often don’t apply until the last minute. What sort of problems does this present?
Unlike the Federal Pell Grant, there are many forms of financial aid that are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis due to the fact that there is a limited pool of funding. Therefore, it is imperative that students apply early to maximize their eligibility for financial aid. Furthermore, if additional information is needed from students to determine their eligibility, that can slow the process down. It is important that students account for this possibility by applying early. In this way, their aid can be in place in time to register for classes. What can financial aid advisors do to help? It is imperative that colleges make it clear to students what their priority dates are for financial aid. Colleges accomplish this in a variety of ways including but not limited to outreach events at local high schools and in the community, posting information on their websites, and reaching out to current and perspective students using a variety of communication methods.

Math in Action adds up for area teachers

Germanna's Center for Workforce and Community Education hosted its second annual "Math in Action: A Conference for Math Teachers by Math Teachers" in June at GCC's Fredericksburg Area Campus.
The Virginia Department of Education’s Michael Bolling,
Director. The Office of Mathematics and Governor's
Schools, was the conference's keynote speaker.

The Germanna Center for Workforce had visited area school systems and asked how it could help with professional development. Math teachers wanted help dealing with the strict changes in math requirements. It partnered with area schools to bring in teachers who could share best practices with each other. 
The conference is designed for teachers interested in helping students achieve at the highest possible levels in math. Attendees heard the latest news about mathematics instruction from the Virginia Department of Education’s Michael Bolling, Director, The Office of Mathematics and Governor's Schools.
Teachers had the opportunity to participate in sessions focused on instructional strategies for the teaching of math. The break-out sessions were conducted by teachers sharing best practices, helping to build a network of support throughout the region

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Camille D.G. Mustachio's 'Language of Dr. Who' makes linguistics fun

Jason Barr, an English instructor at Blue Ridge Community College, wore a  “Run DLK” t-shirt to breakfast at a Virginia Community College System Chancellor’s Developmental Education Institute event.
Everyone looked at Barr blankly except for Camille D.G. Mustachio, an English instructor at Germanna Community College who happens to be a huge "Dr. Who" fan
Camille D. G. Mustachio
Camille D. G. Mustachio
She cracked up.
The shirt put a hip hop, Run DMC twist on Dr. Who’s arch enemy the cyborg Dalek race--an inside joke for ardent fans of the longest-running science fiction show on television.
The pair hit it off and began exchanging messages via email and Facebook about a possible project related to "Dr. Who."
They pitched the idea for a book to Scarecrow Press in Maryland and it was accepted.
Then they sent out a call for essays and the response was “overwhelming—fantastic in a way.”
The result is Barr and Mustachio's new book, “The Language of Dr. Who: From Shakespeare to Alien Tongues,” on sale now at Amazon.com.
Every incarnation of Dr. Who’s 11 “regenerations” and all 50 years of the show are covered. The book targets an audience of science fiction scholars and serious fans of the show seeking new perspectives.
According to the book description, it presents essays that: “explore how written and spoken language have been used to define the Doctor’s ever-changing identities, shape his relationships with his many companions, and give him power over his enemies—even the implacable Daleks.”
The book deals with the shows use of fairy tales, myths, nursery rhymes and Shakespeare, among other things. “Contributors consider how the Doctor’s companions speak with him through graffiti, how the Doctor himself uses postmodern linguistics to communicate with alien species, and how language both unites and divides fans of classic ‘Who’ and new ‘Who’ as they try to converse with each other,” according to the description.
Why does "Dr. Who," a story about the powerful lone survivor of an advanced civilization traveling the universe, have such staying power?
“It’s a fun story of adventure,” Mustachio said, ushering “the audience through space and time,” that’s capable of bridging the gap between generations.
“My kids and I have favorite episodes,” she said, adding that she and her husband have their own favorite episodes dating back to when they were children.
“ 'Dr. Who' is timeless,” Mustachio said, but added, “from a feminist standpoint, I like seeing how the companions have evolved over the years.”
She said there was a learning curve in working on the book that “put me back in the position of what my English 111 students are going through… I had a moment of vulnerability my students have when they bring papers into a workshop.”
Mustachio said that while she loves Shakespeare, “sometimes it’s difficult to connect with students with dead writers as opposed to [characters] they can tune into… I would love to see "Dr. Who" used in the classroom. That would be beyond fun.”

Sales of Germanna President Sam's new book to benefit GCC Educational Foundation

Sales of Germanna Community College President David A. Sam's new semi-autobiographical book of poetry, “Memories in Clay, Dreams of Wolves," go to the GCC Educational Foundation. The book officially launches this Sunday, June 15. It's on prelease sale now on Amazon.com.

It’s Dr. Sam's first full-length collection of poetry.

He has readings and signings set for 2 p.m. next Sunday, June 22 at The Griffin Bookstore and Coffee Bar in downtown Fredericksburg and for 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 11 at The Raven's Nest Coffee House in downtown Culpeper.

 Here’s what two respected poets have to say about “Memories in Clay, Dreams of Wolves”:

 “David Sam is a poet of deep identity with the natural world. In these intimate narratives of discovery and awe, the poems speak often with an almost breathless urgency, reminding us of the inexhaustible life within life, testaments to a unique sensitivity, in a boy and then a man. In journeys both actual and metaphorical, the self is not different than rivers or sunrise. ‘I am made of water and wild air,’ one poem says.  The lucky reader breathes deeply.”
- Allan Peterson, author of “Fragile Acts” and “All the Lavish in Common”

David Anthony Sam’s poems are literally rooted in the earth, seeded in the rich, dark soil.  Whether he’s writing about childhood or the rivers of Pennsylvania, these poems are filled with fields, mountains, lakes, snow and stars; they remind us that human life is found in the morning air, in the golden rays of the rising sun, in a bird’s call as dusk arrives.  Memories in Clay, Dreams of Wolves is an impressive book that will transport you into the natural world where, as Sam writes, you will become ‘forgetful and human again.’”

- David James, author of “She Dances Like Mussolini,” winner of the 2010 Next Generation Indie book award in poetry

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Germanna student's modeling career gets a boost

Congratulations to Germanna student Charnee Long, who has won online voting for a modeling contest and will appear in a national ad for Ambi, a skin care product. She's a general studies major planning to complete her last course this summer and transfer to George Mason University to major in early childhood education with a minor in communications.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Germanna Center for Workforce CEO training boosts startups

Startup CEO training cited as example of GCC responding to region’s workforce needs

During a roundtable discussion about college affordability at Germanna Community College this week, Sen. Tim Kaine praised the way Virginia’s Community Colleges in general—and GCC in particular—tailor workforce training to meet needs in their service regions.
Sen. Tim Kaine watches an unmanned aerial vehicle built by Germanna engineering students take off during a visit to the college this week. The UAV design won a recent  Philadelphia competition for the GCC student team, besting Drexel, Yale and more than a dozen other universities.
Sen. Tim Kaine watches an unmanned aerial vehicle built by Germanna engineering students take off during a visit to the college this week. The UAV design won a recent Philadelphia competition for the GCC student team, besting Drexel, Yale and more than a dozen other universities.
“I just stuck my head in a CEO seminar down the hall,” he said.  ”It’s for local CEOs—mostly from startup technology companies. They get together with a  teacher-facilitator to share best practices and become more productive.”
The CEO offering is part of SkillUpVA, a Germanna Center for Workforce and Community Education program that provides individuals with the skills to make the most of career opportunities in an economic environment shaped by rapid technological change and increasing global competition.
He noted that each community college works to address business climate needs unique to its region.
“Community colleges do a great job not only in educating individual students, but also in thinking about what the workforce trends are here and then taking an approach that meets the region’s needs. That flexibility is really important.”

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Open Educational Resources: 'At some point, Western Civ is Western Civ is Western CIv'

As the cost of textbooks has approached the cost of tuition for classes at some institutions of higher education, faculty are taking matters into their own hands, virtually willing an Open Educational Resources movement forward. OER involves replacing textbooks with openly licensed and easily accessible documents and media.
Richard Sebastian, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies for the Virginia Community College System, Prof. Cheryl Huff of Germanna and GCC Instructional Designer Dr. Julie Mersiowsky speak about Open Educational Resources to a group of about 50 faculty members today at GCC.
Richard Sebastian, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies for the Virginia Community College System, Prof. Cheryl Huff of Germanna and GCC Instructional Designer Dr. Julie Mersiowsky speak about Open Educational Resources to a group of about 50 faculty members today at GCC.
Germanna Community College hosted a two-day OER Academy Thursday and Friday for faculty members from GCC and other colleges in the region.
“Creating courses that use free and open access materials works best collaboratively, so we gathered faculty from around the VCCS to train, brainstorm, team build, and share for two days,” said Germanna Prof. Cheryl Huff, who organized the event with Dr. Julie Mersiowsky, GCC Instructional Designer. “We have plenty of data in the system already, showing how we can save students large amounts of money on classes and degrees, and even increase their success in courses.”
The Virginia Community College System is supporting these initiatives with funding, Huff said, “but there was a groundswell of people already doing this for good reasons, and many more will continue to, as we gain momentum.  It’s like a grassroots movement in some ways – no one wants to hear that a student can’t afford to buy an expensive text and is trying to struggle along without one, so designing courses that meet all the learning objectives using open educational resources has broad benefits. It levels the playing field for many students.”
Huff received a grant from the VCCS in 2013 to develop OER for one of her Germanna English classes. Four other Germanna faculty and library staff members received grants for similar projects this spring.
As the movement grows, “What we should start to see in increased student success,” said Richard Sebastian, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies for the Virginia Community College System.
Attendees heard that publishers are already moving away from hard cover books in general and textbooks in particular--that they are in reality less and less “publishers” with each passing month and more and more and more digital content services, finding and vetting content.
“At some point, Western Civ is Western Civ is Western Civ,” Sebastian said. “The real variation is delivery.”
Changing the means of delivery can make it easier for students from families with less financial means to learn, to do well in classes, stay in school and earn degrees.
“You know there are students in your classes who don’t have the textbook,” William Preston Davis, Director of Instructional Services at Northern Virginia Community College said. “You don’t know why unless they tell you why. [But} when everyone has access to the material, their chances of success improves.”