Weekly Update – April 4, 2010

on April 4, 2010 in Weekly Update

Good morning –

I hope you all had a wonderful three-day weekend.  Even if you don’t celebrate the Easter holiday, I hope the beautiful weather on Saturday got you out of the house and enjoying the day.

This past week I spent a great deal of time participating in some of the initiatives I have spoken with you about previously on numerous occasions.  I had several meetings with the Economic Alliance of the Houston Port Region to review activities in this area and to continue discussions about our maritime programs. These meetings expanded to include representatives from the Port of Houston and the Houston Pilots Association. We have received several grants and are working on developing curriculum for these workforce programs.

The rest of my week was focused on reviewing budget projections and preparing for the Board of Trustees Workshop and Meeting on April 5th.  Both of these areas included discussions around our student success agenda. As you are aware, we are acutely focused on student success and considering what each and every one of us as employees can do to help just one more student succeed in whatever goal they came to our College to achieve.

As part of the Just One More campaign, several videos have been created in which the viewer can interact and select the ending. These “Achieving the Dream – Choose Your Own Ending” videos are on the web at: http://www.youtube.com/sanjaccollegeedtech. Here are the steps to participate. When you go to the site, you can click on the main video that is showing on the page and it will start the series. You will then be prompted to make choices as you move forward. If you make choices that cause the student to withdraw, you are given the option to go back and repeat to help find a path for success. I hope you will enjoy these, and they will trigger some actions that may help us retain more students. 

As a reminder, San Jacinto College is in its fourth year as an Achieving the Dream (AtD) institution. AtD is a national initiative designed to help more community college students succeed.  Our funding for this initiative is provided by the Houston Endowment, Inc., and supplemented with tuition dollars directed by the Board of Trustees. The theme “Just One More” has been selected to center our institutional dialogue about student retention. At the National Strategy Institute for Achieving the Dream in 2009, a small group of faculty and administrators were discussing how the College might improve student success rates.  The question was asked, “What would happen to our retention rates if we prevented just one more student in every class section from withdrawing?”  From this discussion, the theme of “Just One More” emerged.

To support our focus on retention, we have numerous initiatives and interventions underway, including mandatory orientation, a retention calling program, learning communities, math and writing labs, course re-design, and student success centers.   Just as important, however, is the dedicated faculty member, counselor, or staff member who takes the time to interact with students.  In a single conversation, you have the power to change a life.  I think you will find that these videos directly tie into these important strategies to help students succeed and will give you some serious and some humorous examples of what each of us can do to assist our students and enhance their ability to succeed. The phrase that you have heard me use is that we want students to finish what they start – a class, a semester, and a credential (certificate and degree). We know this goal takes all of us – the student experience occurs both in and out of the classroom.

On another note, San Jacinto College will be moving into a milestone year in our history.  In May, we will mark 50 years since our College endured fierce citizen opposition, including lawsuits and a hurricane, to establish a college, but eventually we were voted into existence in our community. The College opened nearly 18 months later for classes. We intend to celebrate the 50 years of operation in 2011. As we look forward to celebrating this milestone in our college history, I would like to ask for your help in telling the story of our College over the years.  I know several of our employees have a long history with the College, and I would like to hear your stories.  Please submit your stories to marketing@sjcd.edu and let us begin compiling the memories.  You will hear more about the upcoming festivities in the future.

We’re down to the last six weeks of the semester. Hang in there and do what you can to encourage and help our students hang in there as we complete the spring semester.

Best,

BH

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