Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Great Expectations: Fostering powerful change

The VCCS' and Germanna's Great Expectations program helps get at-risk foster youth aging out of the system on track toward good-paying careers. Comments from GCC Educational Board member and Great Expectations program supporter Connie Kincheloe is featured in video.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Capital One donates $20,000 to Germanna's Middle College to help high school dropouts get GEDs, make transition to regular college

Raymond R. Hall, District Manager for Capital One, left, and Bill Fulton, the company's Cosner's Corner Branch Manager, pass the first of two annual checks for $10,000 to Germanna Community College Educational Foundation Executive Director Mike Catell and Middle College Director Carolyn Bynum. GCC's Middle College helps young adults who have not earned a high school diploma get their GEDs and make the transition to regular college academic classes and Workforce training. "If this helps one student become a success in life, it will be worth it," Hall said. "We want to give back to people in the community--to people in our back yard. Ninety percent of our local branch associates were born and raised in the area and we want to make a difference here."
"Believe me, this will help more than one person," Bynum said. "Germanna and the Middle College greatly appreciate Capital One's support."
"We look forward to a long relationship with Capital One," Catell said.
Capital One's Fulton said he's gratified that the funds will help "the less fortunate--those that have great need for help-- in the area."
The funds will help GCC Middle College programs from across the region, including Culpeper, Madison and Orange. Middle College is not funded by the state and depends on local donations.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Culpeper Regional Health System named Germanna Community College's 2011 Philanthropist of the Year

Culpeper Regional Health System Board Secretary Wayne Hawkins accepts Germanna Educational Foundation Philanthropist of the Year Award from Bruce L. Davis, foundation president.

Germanna Community College’s Educational Foundation named Culpeper Regional Health System its 2011 Philanthropist of the Year Friday night at the Lake of the Woods Clubhouse.
Culpeper Regional Health System's total investment in its partnership with Germanna over the last 10 years is $539,266, said Mike Catell, Director of the GCC Educational Foundation & Alumni Relations. The donations have been been made in the form of scholarships, grants for nursing program development and a faculty position, and contributions to events like Monte Carlo Casino Night and Distinguished Person of the Year, which support the Germanna Guarantee Program. The hospital and its affiliated organizations have also invested in the Jane R. Ingalls Nurse Educator Fellowship.
“The relationship between Culpeper Regional Health System and Germanna Community College is vitally important to our future,” said Wayne Hawkins, Secretary of the Board of Culpeper Regional Health System , in accepting the award. “We look forward to our continued collaboration and partnership for many years to come.”
"Culpeper Regional Health System is a critical partner in our mission,” Catell said, “and the Educational Foundation is very grateful for their extraordinary investment and long-standing partnership.”
Germanna President David A. Sam said support from partners like Culpeper Regional Hospital has made it possible for GCC to make sure the area has enough nurses as the Baby Boomer population ages and demand for health care increases.
Bruce L. Davis, President of Germanna’s Educational Foundation, and a member of its Local College Board, said Culpeper Regional Health System has displayed leadership in the community and vision in its consistent and generous support of GCC. The college doubled the size of its nursing program this year and added non-credit Workforce health care certifications. Meanwhile, the total headcount of students taking classes is approaching 14,000, including nearly 8,000 students taking credit classes. “Enrollment is way up, demand for academic programs and Workforce training is way up, state funding is down, and we need more funding from local partners and donors,” Davis said.
Doris Buffett, the Fredericksburg philanthropist and sister to Warren Buffett also spoke, explained her own support of GCC by saying: “Germanna and I do much the same things and share the same goals—including helping people who otherwise couldn’t afford to go to college get degrees . We both work in the real world.”

Caroline County student to earn Associate's Degree at GCC before high school graduation

Paige Romeo will begin college as a junior, thanks to Germanna's affordable Dual Enrollment program
Caroline High School student Paige Romeo will walk at Germanna Community College's commencement in May before she graduates from CHS in June. GCC's Dual Enrollment program, which allows students to get credit for college courses at their high schools, has allowed her to leap ahead and save money at the same time. The cost of GCC courses is about one-third of the cost of classes at four-year-colleges and universities.
The 18-year-old Romeo is also more comfortable with the idea of going off to college because of her GCC Dual Enrollment experience. She plans to attend Virginia Tech in the fall. "I've gotten a taste of what college is like and still had the (home) support system," she said, adding that she believes it will make adjusting to college life away from home easier.
"The experience has been awesome. All the professors have been nice. I thought their expectations might be too much, but all you have to do is do the work."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

John Hollis, author of “Life in the Paint: A Black Man Fighting for His Identity” will speak at GCC's Sealy Auditorium at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4

John Hollis with his 5-year-old son, Davis. His "Life in the Paint" teaches people to be themselves. Don't try to be white. Don't try to be black. Just be you.
When he was growing up in Fredericksburg, John Hollis found a way to not only live, but thrive, in both the black and white worlds at the same time.

His skills in the classroom earned him scholarships to Woodberry Forest and U.Va. His skills on the basketball court earned him the respect of other young black males who considered getting good grades to be "white."

He's gone on to write for CNN and Time and to cover professional sports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And his brutally honest book, "Life in the Paint: A Black Man Fighting for His Identity" provides clues on how we can fix one of the major problems affecting our education system.

Q: Your dad left and your mom, Phyllis Hollis, a Stafford County teacher, raised you guys on her own, right? She drilled into all three of you the importance of education, didn't she? Have you had contact with your dad in later years--has he congratulated you on your success?

JOHN HOLLIS: Yep, my mother (A Howard University grad who has a master's degree in education from U.Va) raised the three of us on her own after divorcing my father when I was very, very young. We were still living in Germany--my father was in the U.S. Army--when their marriage ended and my mom returned to the U.S. with three sons to support. My youngest brother, Rick, was just a newborn baby at the time. I vaguely recall seeing my father once or twice while growing up, but not all since I was about 8 or 9, I guess. He sent two e-mails to me a few years ago in 2003, congratulating me on my success. I never responded back to either of his e-mails, although I did a few years ago speak via phone to the 20-something-year-old son he had by the German woman from his second marriage. I have never hated my father or anybody else for that matter. I truly have no feelings towards him whatsoever. He just wasn’t there when we needed him while growing up, so I don’t need him now. In fact, I look at it as a blessing of sorts that he wasn’t in my life because there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be the person I am today had there been such negative daily influences around me during my formative years. As for my mom, she was always preaching the value of education to us, ingraining in us at a young age that we would be good students, that we would be going to college and that our behavior in the classroom would be as exemplary as our academic performances. As I’ve grown into a man and become a parent myself, I realize how important that was in setting high goals for us and challenging us to meet those goals. All the more so for young black men. According to the statistics, my brothers and I should most likely be either dead or in jail. I’ll be forever indebted to my mother for demanding excellence from us. It’s a lesson from many other people could learn.
Q: Do you agree with the messages of Bill Cosby and President Obama that black families need to stress the importance of education more?

JOHN HOLLIS: I think President Obama and Bill Cosby were both right on the mark in chastising some African-American parents for failing to put the proper emphasis on education. They were both roundly criticized by apologists from within the black community for reasons still unclear to me, other than it’s always easier to simply blame the messenger rather than take a hard look at the message. Let's call it what it is and address the problem rather than bury our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist. I certainly can’t speak for all African-American families, but I do think many of those I see daily here in the Atlanta area anyway concede education, for whatever reason, as somehow an exclusively white domain, that somehow the sports arena is the only avenue out of a poor socio-economic situation. Black kids who excel in school or speak proper English are often ribbed as “acting white” as if underachieving were somehow synonymous with African-Americans. Black kids who athletic, however, are the unquestioned kings of the kingdom, free to have whatever they wish. It’s absurd, and it has to stop. Don’t get me wrong – I love sports and it has always played a major role in my life. But there’s never been a doubt that I or my brothers could always do a lot more than that. We have never bought into this ridiculous and incredibly insulting concept that all African-American males can do is either play basketball or be a rapper. The failure of our nation’s education systems has long been well documented, but nowhere is it more glaring than among young black men, only about half of whom graduate from high school these days, dooming themselves to a challenging life that more often than not leads to poverty and criminal behavior. I’ve always been dumbfounded by this line of thought because of the flawed underlying premise that says there are certain things African-Americans can’t or won’t do. It’s because there are such low expectations of black men in America – from both whites and blacks alike – and rather than be insulted and hell bent on proving people wrong, too many folks just meekly go along with the status quo. Bad grades and poor efforts in school are tolerated by way too many African-American parents because the bar is set so low and that’s what is expected of them. It’s about time we in the African-American community started asking – no, demanding - better from all black students, especially black males. That means turning the TV off at night to do schoolwork, it means becoming involved with your children’s education and it means not letting their son play sports if he or she is not getting it done in the classroom.I have been amazed at how many African-American parents in the Atlanta area anyway see nothing wrong with letting their son play sports despite their academic shortcomings. Many of those same parents – especially in the case of the fathers- couldn’t ever be found in a parent/teacher conference, but you can bet they won’t miss their son’s football game or practice. It absolutely makes no sense to me, and it is detrimental to the entire black community as a whole. Sports is a privilege to be earned, not a right. We played all kinds of sports while growing up, but my mom always made it very clear to us it was a luxury we would lose if we didn’t get the job done in the classroom. Critics will say that these young black men often come from broken homes with no strong parent to guide them like my mom did. But such academic deficiencies are nowhere near as prevalent among African-American females, many of whom come from the same homes. The difference is that expectations are considerably higher of black females. I would like to see young black males held to the same high standard so they, too, can have a chance at a good life. Many will rise to meet the challenge if only they are pushed. We owe them that much. I was raised by a single mother who instilled in us a belief from a young age that we were smart and that we could do anything or be anything that we chose. I have firmly believed that my entire life and will always believe that. It wasn’t easy, but we overcame the major life obstacles in front of us b/c much was always expected of us. Others can do likewise, but it’s going to take a lot more effort from more African-American parents

Q: You say that your ability on the basketball court allowed you to straddle the line and relate to both sides. What do you think would have happened if you didn't have those skills?

JOHN HOLLIS: I’m not sure what might have happened if I didn’t have a little game back in the day. That innate confidence to know I could thrive in whatever my environment I might have found myself has been very pivotal for me. I might have turned out differently without the basketball skills, but who knows for sure?

Q: You write about other black kids you played basketball with being as smart as you but either being killed or going to jail for selling drugs because they bought into the idea that doing well in school was a white thing.

JOHN HOLLIS: I’m not sure that the friend of whom I spoke in the book as being as bright as me ever bought into the idea of studying made you “white.” I always believed this friend “Jimmy” was more a victim of life’s circumstances than anything else. He turned to selling drugs when the single mom raising him and a younger sister became ill. But there are plenty of young black males who don’t have the confidence to dare go against the grain. Often young and looking to fit in, too many black males do buy into that flawed premise, often with terrible consequences. I was always blessed to have lots of self-confidence, and I was determined to never let other people or different environments define me. Only I could define me. Yes, I was different than a lot of guys I played pickup basketball with, but I think I earned their respect because I always had the confidence to just be me and not try to be something else.

Q: Sports were a real blessing to you---they not only helped you relate to others who might have shunned you, they got you your start in journalism. But isn't it true that for many, they lead a lot of kids—especially poor kids-- to believe they can succeed without studying?

JOHN HOLLIS: “I’ve always believed sports can serve as a great life lesson. You learn to win with class and dignity, as much as you learn to lose gracefully as well. And when you lose, you go back, practice and get better so you can do it right the next time. You learn teamwork in sports and how to work together towards a common goal with others who might be different from you. Kids who want to be successful athletes will have to be talented, yes, but they’ll also have to be willing to put in the long practice time and planning necessary to be good. The same principles apply to school as well. African-American parents just need to expect more of their sons in this realm as well and hold them accountable when they don’t meet expectations. Just like their coaches would.”