Thursday, July 18, 2013

New Germanna Dean Shashuna Gray: 'It [isn't] just about the answer'

Shashuna Gray had straight A’s until she took a biology class in the tenth grade. The toughest teacher she’d ever had gave her a B. But, because of his approach to teaching, she decided to become a biology teacher.

New Dean of the Arts and Sciences Shashuna Gray

“It wasn’t just about the answer,” says Gray, named Germanna’s new dean of the Arts and Sciences in June of 2013. “It was about why the answer was important and how it would impact you. Too many students just repeat facts, and they become disengaged and disinterested.” She says too many decide they don’t like science because they don’t understand how it relates to them as individuals.

 She believed that through teaching biology, she could ease the anxiety many have about the study of science in general.  “I wanted,” Dean Gray says, “to make the students feel comfortable in the classroom and make a difference.  I have a passion for teaching and for helping students succeed.”

 At Germanna, she says, helping students succeed goes well beyond the classroom.

Germanna students, she says, “find themselves in an environment where they can come to faculty when they have other problems--not just enrolling in classes and having their financial aid approved.

“I see so many students in Target and Panera who tell me about their lives,” Dean Gray says. “They really feel we care about them, whether they’re pursuing a degree or just taking one class.  And we do. They’re part of GCC family.” Both on the credit side and through the college’s non-credit Workforce Development side, she says, “We’re able to provide students skills and opportunities they might not otherwise have a chance to develop, and to find their passion.”

She has 19 years of college teaching experience.  Eight of those years have been in the Virginia Community College System. A doctoral student in Old Dominion University’s Community College Leadership Program, Dean Gray has both a bachelor of science degree and a master of science degree in biology from Alabama State University. She spent the last year serving for a year as acting dean of Arts and Sciences. Before that, she was a faculty member teaching biology and microbiology.
Dean Gray, who lives in North Stafford, has a daughter attending Germanna and two younger children.
“I love Germanna and I believe in it 100 percent,” she says. “I really believe in the community college system.”







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