The author traveled to Armenia for two weeks during the summer of 2004 as part of Project Harmony’s U.S.-Armenia Teacher Exchange, a program linking educators from both countries in a real and virtual classroom project. As part of this program, the author spent four days with the Harutyunyan family in Armenia;
As a reciprocal part of this program, his partner, Ms. Hasmik Harutyunyan, visited CFCC from April 1 through 8 of this year attending classes, meeting with students and faculty and staying with families of college personnel.
It was the last evening I would spend in Aghavnadzor, a village some 3500 feet up in the Caucasus, and the home of my friend and Project Harmony co-teacher, Hasmik Harutyunyan. She and her sister’s family were planning something special. A thicket of brush was collected by the young Artuck and placed by the late model white compact car. Lianna and Anahit, the family’s beautiful teenage daughters, sorted through various vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, and onions readying the best for later that day. Their father collected shish kabob skewers and other cooking materials, carefully arranging these items on the stoop at the back of the family’s home. Supplies of kavosh, the wonderful Armenian bread, and cheese were also set aside for our trip down the mountain for our picnic for all centuries.
I, the American from Ocala, Florida, was oblivious to this preparation, recounting it only now as I fondly remember this day. I had busied myself taking pictures in the back yard, of various bugs playfully meandering through the garden’s flowers, of chickens and cats separately cavorting in the fenced off garden, of shadows and angles caused by the radiance of the eternally moving sun. There were notes written in a journal, coffee sipped with various family members and quiet moments in this most quiet of villages.
At about four in the afternoon, the seven of us arranged ourselves in the family’s transportation. In the front seat, young Artuck straddled the gear shift between me and his father. In the back seat, Hasmik and her sister flanked the two smiling teens. Through all of this, I never asked a question, merely complying with their directions. The car seemed to crawl between the narrow paths from their home leading to the main, unpaved path. On this main road, a craggy, twisting series of S-curves, we coasted to the town’s lone gas pump for a fill up which would undoubtedly get us back up the steep five mile hill we were poised to descend. As I soon found out, we needed not this gas for the trip down; a simple pop of the clutch moved the car slowly down the hill in a silent, roller coaster ride to the bottom.
After five miles and now on the main road, we traveled another mile and stopped at a collection of Armenian food stalls for more vegetables and foodstuffs. Everyone knew each other, their smiles and pleasantries contagious. Hasmik bought us all ice cream bars; thirsty, I needed some chilled bottled water. Then, we leisurely moved farther down the road for a few miles before heading west through a beautiful, red limestone canyon. This rock formation stone formed natural skyscrapers along the five mile path which bordered a dry gorge, this part of the trip culminating in our penultimate destination, the monastery at Noravunk.
Noravunk is part rock, part Church, all chameleon, its structures so elegantly blending with the multiple hues of tan and red and brown brick, its craggy, bulbous nature part and parcel of the rock shroud behind it. As we emerged from the canyon, the illuminated precipice shaped our view of the late afternoon’s blue sky. Up the winding one kilometer path the family car trudged slowly to the top. Once there, we uncoiled our bodies and began to wander between the several churches on the ground, this hallowed earth sanctified by these 750 year old structures, the masterpiece of the talented sculptor and miniaturist, Momik. After pictures, prayers and posing, we perused the quintessential Armenian medieval national art form, the khatchkar, those omnipresent cross monuments strewn throughout the land. Some were sculpted into the Church; others scattered pell-mell on the surrounding monastery grounds like headstones in wait for another inevitable funeral.
The sun, still soaring in the sky, illuminated the primary monastery, St. Karapet Church. Young Artuck climbed up the outer steps to perch himself at a door some twenty feet above the ground. Inside, sepulchers and khatchkars, icons and memorial candles, gave texture to the sanctuary. All of us lit candles and placed them in the sand base near the sanctuary.
After pictures, smiles and private thoughts, we piled together into the car down the hill and appeared to be headed back through the gorge. Almost out of sight of the monastery complex (I stole backward glances every 100 meters or so and even once stopped the car for still another photograph of this masterpiece), we gently veered off the road onto a grassy knoll near a running brook. Almost like a drill team, the family members each assumed the picnic position, Artuck grabbed the thicket on top of the car; Anahit and Lianna carried the foodstuffs packed in plastic bags. Gurgen removed a pan of beef from the trunk and placed it near a makeshift cooking area, a place where others had picnicked before. With his son’s help, each piece of meat was slipped onto a skewer and then placed on the thicket fire. I helped spread out a blanket, got in lockstep with the food preparation regimen, and couldn't help but glance upwards at Noravunk every ten minutes or so. The sun at our backs illuminated the red rocks and the cone-like steeples. I was transported into the 8th Century and, at the same time, embedded in the real present with my Armenian friends. Everyone helped, smiled, ate, and shared, in a ritual of making peace with nature. We ate and cleaned up until the sun crept behind the canyon. Our journey back through the limestone colonnade, through the evening dusk, was equally as spectacular as our approach to Noravunk. Hanging out the window, I let the video camera capture the descent from the monastery and picnic area in this almost claustrophobic journey back to the main road.
Once back on the road and a mile from the final ascent back up to Aghavanadzor, we stopped one final time along the noisy brook which paralleled the road. The only items we had not used on this “picnic for all centuries” were the two wooden fishing poles buried deep in the trunk of the car. Artuck had brought these and now enlisted all of us to watch him “play” the stream. But, before any line was put into water, Gurgen had to demonstrate his own method of fishing.
As we used the remaining petrol in the late model care to crawl back up the circuitous road to the village, I could only marvel at the Harutyunyan’s sense of family and respect for all life. The things I marveled at, the monastery sculpted into the side of a mountain, the skyscrapers made of rock, and the brilliant hues forged by the late afternoon sun, were also integral parts of their worlds. Yet, more than the natural spectacle and the expanded sense of history was the palpable goodness of this family, a close knit group which welcomed an American from Ocala, Florida into their home for four July days, in an epochal stay which changed all of us in heart and mind
Removing his dress shoes and warm up pants and left only with his underpants, he plunged into the moderately moving stream and quickly crossed to the other side. Hugging the rocks on the bank, he meticulously stepped and, at times stumbled. along the stream’s bottom, using his feet and hands to land an unsuspecting fish. This went on for about twenty minutes, drawing laughs and, at times gasps, from his audience as he unsuccessfully sought the catch of the day. He had done this before, I thought at the time, perhaps when he fought for five years in the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, living away from home during that period and surviving on his Caucasus bred instincts. Once back among us, Gurgen dressed himself for the final ride home, assisted by his daughters, Liana and Anahit.
I t was the start of a typical high school or community college day with students studying a wide assortment of subjects. “Why do I care about Macbeth,” a student asked. Another needed help adding fractions. One student was working on a paper highlighting the differences between a market economy and a command economy while her friend struggled with the differences between budding and binary fission as reproduction methods.
Factoring polynomials, dividing decimals and figuring out the final cost of a coat listed at $57 and discounted 12% occupied several students. One sixty year old student with low level language skills wrestled with the concept of nouns while another student worked on verb-subject agreement.
There were questions about the Bill of Rights, the French Revolution, the difference between a gerund and a participle, how to find the cube root of 8 and the best way to write a good transition paragraph. When not working with students, the instructor and aide had tests to give and grade, new students to enroll and progress reports to complete.
While it sounds like a typical day two factors made this day unlike a typical high school or community college day. It all took place in one room and all within the first hour of the class. Welcome to the many experiences that the CFCC Adult Learning Center Instructors encounter every class.
The Adult Learning Center (ALC) provides educational services to students in Chiefland, Bronson, Williston, and Ocala. It is a place for something I call “extreme teaching” because of the incredible variety of subjects and students we deal with daily. In addition to the student working to pass their GED exam, the center serves prospective college students needing remediation, existing college students who need tutoring, people who need to improve TABE scores to meet job requirements, and even high school students who need to make up classes. Despite the challenges, the center has a 100 percent passing rate for GED students who follow the center’s program recommendations.
Teaching in the ALC means an instructor needs to be ready to help students in subjects that include the basics of beginning mathematics, reading and writing, through all of the typical high school English, science, and social studies courses and well as college algebra. And the instructors must often move from one subject to the next with little time in between.
The basic instruction delivery system utilizes various student-centered modalities including self-paced printed and computer-based instruction, individualized and group break out sessions, learning teams and impromptu group lessons. The center has a wide assortment of diagnostic and remediation resources that help instructors identify and remediate specific learning needs.
The center operates day and evening classes at the four locations. This schedule accommodates the needs of adults with children in school, high school students, and working students. It also means the instructors need to be skilled in dealing with a variety of student issues.
Open enrollment means that new students can join the program at any time. The only requirement is that the prospective student must complete the entry requirements and attend a one-hour orientation program before attending class. The open enrollment allows people who have made a decision to pursue educational goals to get a quick start while the motivation is fresh.
In addition to the variety of subjects, the variety of students who enroll at the center also presents challenges. Previous educational failures have scared many adult education students. Some are reluctant to admit they lack a high school diploma. Often the center’s students are on the edge financially and emotionally and lack important support resources. The center also receives students who are court ordered to pursue educational opportunities as part of their probation or adjudication program. Keeping these students focused and motivated is both exhilarating when successful and heartbreaking when not.
About 58 percent of the center’s students are adults. The rest are underage (17 or younger). We’ve noticed more students in the 16 and 17-year old group. Known as over-aged middle schoolers, these students are high school age, but lack the educational credentials to attend high school. A growing number of these students are opting for the GED classroom rather than continuing to struggle in traditional class environments. To help them achieve their educational goals, the instructor must first create an environment of trust, boundaries, and expectations.
In order to establish the appropriate learning environment, the center recently implemented an intensive orientation program. Students enrolling in the center’s adult high school or GED program must attend the orientation before attending classes. In addition, parents of underage GED students must attend the orientation. The goal of orientation is to help set students’ expectations regarding the adult education programs. It is also an opportunity to inform parents of underage students how the program works and how we can best partner to help their student achieve his or her educational goals.
The center uses a time clock program that tracks student’s classroom attendance hours. This tool helps to create an awareness of their time commitment to their educational goals. Copies of the attendance reports are sent home each month so parents can have some indication of the student’s progress and attendance.
An important feature of any adult education program is student recognition and reward programs. The center hosts a graduation ceremony at the end of each semester for those students who have passed the GED exams and thereby earning the Florida High School Diploma. These well-attended events feature lots of friends and family, a guest speaker, refreshments, pictures, and plenty of pomp and circumstance. In addition to awarding high school diplomas, the center awards CFCC tuition scholarships for the top graduates.
Recently, the National Adult Education Honor Society (NAEHS) granted the center membership in the organization which recognizes adult education students for their achievement and commitment. It is one of only seven NAEHS charters granted in Florida.
2005 National ACDA Convention
by Cory Alexander, Fine Arts
In early February I had the opportunity (thanks to funding by the PDC) to attend the American Choral Directors Association’s National Convention in Los Angeles. During this four-day convention, which boasted an attendance of over 17,000, I heard approximately two dozen of the country’s finest choirs. All varieties of choral groups were featured, from children’s choirs to professional organizations to school choruses. Some familiar ensembles were the St. Olaf Choir, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Dale Warland Singers. I also had the opportunity to hear Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen in the new Disney Concert Hall. Perhaps you have heard that the city of Los Angeles has ordered that the shiny metal roof of the structure be sand-blasted to avoid blinding drivers at certain times of the day (you can see why from some of the photos on this Web site: http://wdch.laphil.com/wdch/photos/index.html )
In addition to the concerts, I attended several lectures and reading sessions.
Attending the convention was quite refreshing. Since the last major ACDA convention I had attended in 1999, I have had few opportunities to hear such high quality performances or to sit in audiences with such impeccable concert etiquette. It was a very worthwhile experience and I plan to bring some of what I have learned to my own choirs at CFCC.
Online Course Assessment
by Michele Wirt, Humanities
A must for anyone involved in online and/or hybrid courses, this seminar, sponsored by the Partnership for the Advancement of Distributed Learning in Orlando, addressed student behavior patterns online, the revision of “knowledge is power,” the master/servant dichotomy of technology, and models for assessing both the efficacy of distance learning courses and student success in such courses.
According to Charles Dziuban and Patsy Moskal of UCF, survey says! that the most successful learners in online courses are NOT independent learners. Of the four types identified, Aggressive Dependent learners come out on top (as opposed to Aggressive Independent, Passive Independent, and Passive Dependent). In addition, somewhat surprisingly, satisfaction in online courses is minimally related to learning styles.
These UCF researchers also indicate the generations of students and their likelihood of success in distance learning environments; of the four types, the “millenials” (as opposed to the matures, the baby-boomers, and the generation-xer’s) responded less positively to online and hybrid (blended) courses than the others. (We already knew they were the least likely to display or practice higher-order thinking.) These students value engagement and interaction above all, and prompted the authors to reframe the metaphor “knowledge is power,” to “the ability to use knowledge is power” and “teamwork is power.”
In a joint study by Ransford C. Pyle and Charles Dziuban, it turns out that grading is the biggest factor behind the decline, nay the cadaver of higher education, which is so closely tied to testing. The loss of the culture of learning for its own sake, lamented by these authors, is the direct result. Pyle said, “The most successful test ever used incorporated in the test procedure itself the substance I was trying to teach,” specifically a multiple choice test for an ethics course that incorporates a set of rules requiring complicated decision making on the part of the students.
Pyle also indicates that, after teaching his first online course that face-to-face courses were “child’s play” by comparison, likening that experience to “a game we play instead of teaching.” His example was having students learn to create briefs for legal cases. In class, he basically dissected the case, labeled the components, elaborated on them, and answered questions at the end. He had “no such luxury” online. He felt compelled in that format to express every facet with clarity, and then provided self-assessments for students online, followed by an inundation of e-mail if something went wrong.
He cautions “not to attempt to translate a lecture course to a web course,” and that “we need to closely examine what we are doing and what we want students to know.”
Along these lines, a team of UCF Instructional designers proposed assessment techniques for online courses and students, and urge that both formative and summative strategies be employed, on both formal and informal levels. They provided examples, such as scenario based activities, which can also be used in quizzes and tests, and simulations.
In one such instance, students learning about non-profit organizations actually formed one from the students in the course, including several committees, board members, and officers.
In conclusion, Pyle indicates that “we have a rare opportunity to transform higher education” using the blended and online format, and that the tendency for technology to be master must be reversed, so that technology serves the faculty. Finally, in remembrance of the “crash of ‘05”, one attendant indicated that he gave points for technology failure so that the students wait for it, instead of the more natural fear and loathing!
Perinatal Update 2005
by Angel Sanders, Health Occupations
I want to thank the T/LI for the opportunity to attend this conference, which was held in Savannah, Georgia on March 2-4. It was rewarding professionally and personally. I was able to meet and interact with nurses from 28 states and several foreign countries.
The conference included breakout sessions, which enabled the exchange of information on standards of care and treatment modalities in various regions.
In the highly specialized and continually developing fields of maternal-fetal medicine, it is essential to maintain a current knowledge base of emergency trends and practices. The conference objectives included: explaining teamwork, communication and quality reviews to improve performance; methods to decrease maternal mortality by preparing for perinatal emergencies; reviewing legal case studies; describing the current treatments for high risk neonatal conditions; and methods to support emotionally stressed family members of diverse cultures.
The highlight of the convention was guest speaker Dr. Edmund Funai, Chief of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Yale University. I look forward to sharing his research discussions with my students and colleagues.
Each time I attend this conference I come back excited to share my new found knowledge. Thanks again for this opportunity.
Florida Community College Early
Childhood Educator’s Network
by Marybeth Kyle, Public Service
Held in Wakulla Springs on March 22-25, our network was briefed on information concerning the new requirements of CDAE renewals, which I will share with my credit and non-credit students. We heard from several guest speakers, including Ann Chan from the Agency for Workforce Innovation, who spoke about the legislation and developing requirements concerning the Voluntary Pre-kindergarten Education Program ( VPK). I will include these requirements in my classes. In addition, I learned about the DOE’s role in the Office of Early Learning standards, Pre-K assessments/curricula accountability and CDA articulation. This information will help our Early Childhood programs to stay in compliance.
This forum also provided me with information about the Florida T.E.A.C.H. scholarship and DCF-Licensing/CDA & CDAE renewal/Director credential(s), which I will pass along to interested students
College Music Society
by Sarah Satterfield, Fine Arts
On February 24-26, I attended the Southern Chapter of the College Music Society’s regional conference at the University of Florida. On the first evening I gave the local premiere of Jorge Ibanez’s “Aire II for Flute and Piano,” accompanied by Brazilian pianist and UF doctoral candidate Ilka Vasconcelos Araujo. The composer, a native of Bolivia who currently resides in Miami, attended the performance and commented afterward that Ilka and I captured the “true essence of the piece”: improvisatory at the outset and in the finale, rhythmically driving and texturally dense in the mid-section. The composition was the second in a series of pieces for flute written by Jorge Ibanez. The first, premiered by acclaimed Israeli flutist Na’ama Lion, was written for Baroque flute and harpsichord in 1990. The second was originally intended for this same instrumentation, but later the composer decided to score it for C flute and piano in order to make it more accessible for modem players. The composition’s melancholy character is reminiscent of Bolivian folk music and more specifically music generally played the “quena,” a type of Bolivian flute. Though the roots are in traditional sources, the melodic and harmonic language of the piece are undoubtedly modernistic, using flutter tonguing and Carter-esque metric modulation in the flute part and progressively more intricate tone clusters in the piano accompaniment.
In addition to premiering the above work, I presented a paper entitled “French Revolutionary Era Rescue Opera: The Birth, Evolution, and Decline of a Genre.” Earlier this month I presented a paper on a similar theme as part of the University of Florida's Presidential Visiting Artist Lecture Series (Musicology Division). In the CMS presentation, I discussed how the likes Gretry, Sedaine, Cherubini, Spontini, Beethoven, and Sibelius contributed to this short-lived form, the rapidity of its decline being hastened by such diverse factors as changes in French and Napoleon's musical tastes, the closing of several smaller theaters in the aftermath of the revolution, and censorship.
While attending the conference I had the opportunity to attend many interesting lectures presented by colleagues in my profession, music historians, theorists, and educators among them. Perhaps the most timely presentation was on the importance of fluidity in the collegiate curriculum. I plan to write on this topic for a future issue of Directions.
National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology
by Karla Wilson, Humanities
In addition to hearing some of the most recent research in various areas of psychology at this meeting in St. Petersburg Beach on January 2-5, a great number of the workshops and presentations were focused on applications of teaching and learning in the classroom. Keynote addresses included “The Impact of Media Violence on Children” by Ed Donnerstein of the University of Arizona; “What’s New in Fatherhood Research” by Ross Parke, University of California, Riverside; and “Styles of Learning Versus Fundamentals of Learning” by Robert A. Bjork, UCLA.
I found the presentation by Bjork to be very thought provoking, as I am interested in the utilization of learning styles as a classroom approach. Bjork poses a very compelling argument, opposing the emphasis on individual learning styles approaches to teaching, which are utilized by a great number of educators today. He states that such an approach to learning “impedes progress toward more effective instruction.” He also proposes that many educators overemphasize the role of aptitude and underestimate the power of practice, effort, and experience. The challenge we face is that student classroom performance may be best when information is provided in a manner which closely follows the text and other course objectives. However, in this research recall of the same information is poor after the semester is over. Bjork argues that the orderly method of presentation actually leads to less than desirable long-term outcomes of knowledge and skill acquisition. In studies where skills were taught in a random pattern, initial performance was poor but longer term retention of those skills was achieved. For academic settings, Bjork suggests some manipulations to introduce desirable difficulties for the learner. His and other research suggests a process of interweaving concepts to lead to better long-term recall, as compared to presenting concepts in a predictable pattern. This doesn’t mean not following your syllabus, but instead finding ways to introduce topics in such ways to stretch student engagement with material.
Overall, I found this conference to be very meaningful in providing some very practical classroom tools, as well as gaining knowledge of research trends in the field.
Weekend Immersion in Nursing Informatics
by Cynthia Ehrhardt, Health Occupations
The WINI conference was held in Tampa November 19-21. It provided an intensive overview and update on one of nursling’s newest specialties, informatics.
As area hospitals have begun to incorporate electronic record keeping and medication administration, it is important for faculty to become familiar with basic concepts of nursing informatics. The conference was comprised of lectures and applying concepts via group problem solving sessions, and the varied backgrounds of those attending the conference provided a wealth of input to various problems in the “real world;” approaches to identify those variables; and application of interventions to achieve a successful outcome. Each problem-solving session brought me new insights that I will be able to communicate to my colleagues and nursing students.
Overall, I felt this conference met my objectives. It allowed me to expand my knowledge base in nursing informatics and share this new-found knowledge back to the A.D.N. program.
~ Here’s Wishing Happy and Safe Travels
to you this summer! ~
“As music is the poetry of sound, so is painting the poetry of sight.” – Whistler
by Lynne Boele
How does one sum up Jack Thursby and his contributions? How can we convey gratitude for his gifts to students and colleagues, to the community, to his friends? It’s the 13 th labor of Hercules, a painting I can imagine Jack producing...
I first came to know Jack when we both served on the Curriculum Committee in the late 80;s. Hours into a meeting, Jack was the person who would find a missing comma or some other minutia no one else bothered about, while the rest of us rolled our eyes and looked at the clock. He was and is “Mr. Curriculum”—after all these years he remained on the committee, still the careful guardian of protocol and correctness in courses of study down to the last punctuation mark.
We became real friends, however, at an Austin, Texas conference to which we were sent, one of the NISOD attend-or-be-damned events of the Campion era that a few readers may remember. The 20 or so members of the CFCC delegation (there was some sort of prize for the community college with the largest number of attendees) became a close-knit surrogate family, forming a united front against the Texas Two-Step gatherings, the nightly social event. Jack had come prepared for the sessions. According to his roommate, Kevin Mulholland, Jack brought several suitcases which he stacked next to Kevin’s one duffle bag, and their shared bathroom was swamped with Jack’s toiletries, forming a tidal wave of grooming and cleaning agents which threatened to flood over Kevin’s small kit. Indeed, the crisis of the first evening (before the Texas Two-Step) was Jack’s discovery that his shampoo had exploded in one of the suitcases, sudsing some of the dapper wardrobe. You have to admire a bald man who packs shampoo. Jack rose above that crisis with good humor, sporting a different blazer each day, elegantly turned out as always. When we weren’t attending meetings, he led some of us on a merry march around Austin in search of a place that sold authentic Kachina dolls. Jack made our forced attendance at that conference memorably joyous.
To the casual observer, Jack appears confident, even aloof. In reality, he is a warm, engaging human being, an advocate concerned with the welfare of others, a perfectionist whose canvas is life. His art reveals a special humanist, a classicist connected to diverse people in varying walks of life. His people are real as well as mythic, his messages particular as well as universal. With a draftsman’s eye, he carves out brilliant allegories of age, isolation, illness, and celebration. He is both playful and probing, ironic and sincere in presenting the human condition.
I admire Jack as a dedicated and insightful professional who strives constantly for improvement; as a colleague who cares deeply about students and their learning; and as a friend of unfailing honesty and affection. Jack Thursby has enriched my life.
Jack is “Mr. Curriculum” at CFCC. His dedication, thoroughness and most of all patience set the standard for future chairs of the curriculum committee.
~ Sharon Cooper
The influence of Jack Thursby on our students, our college, and our community is incalculable. His creative vision has inspired us all. Besides teaching art, Jack taught students to play games. Here he is teaching a student a game of patty-cake.
Thank you, Jack.
~ Joe Zimmerman
I was a first year coach at CFCC in the fall of 1990 and anxious to design a new, powerful, artistic and professional logo to let everyone know that women’s basketball was going in a new direction. Trouble was, we had no money and only a few ideas. Jack came to our rescue and designed a logo that was simply “out of the box” successful. Jack has always had a full plate, but has had time to help many, especially a new coach with a dream. Thanks, Jack.
~ Gary Ashlock
Friend, colleague, and visionary, Jack Thursby has profoundly influenced all of us who have been fortunate enough to know him.
Because of his caring and compassion, many of us are far better people and have opened our minds to the nuances and symbolism around us.
~ Robin Seymour
I adore Jack Thursby. I occupy the office in building 4 that he had for more than 20 years—an honor! And his new office is just across the hall, so he was one of the first colleagues I met and saw daily when I came here to CFCC three years ago January. Feeling somewhat lost and lonely as I did that first semester, I was delighted to find on my desk one morning a beautiful ceramic coffee mug with a cat design—it was a gift from Jack. His card said, “Saw this in a cute shop and thought you would enjoy it because you love both coffee and cats.” I still use it every single day and it makes me smile.
That’s the kind of delightful, charming, generous man Jack is. And from that moment on, I felt welcomed into the department. It’s only the first in a dozen’s dozen kind gestures this man has done for me and for others in our department. He’s a marvel, and how he shall be missed...oh my.
~ Cassandra Robison
Jack was one of my first teachers here at CFCC. He continues to teach me through example as a creative artist, gracious friend, and an inspirational colleague.
~ Amy Mangan
Jack has been one of those rare persons who becomes the heart and soul of an organization. His love for teaching and for students has made him the epitome of the teacher as servant, and he has been an inspiration for all who want to make education their life work. His legacy is all around us in the work of his students, in the varied and interesting art through the college, and in all who his artistic soulfulness has touched.
~ Chick Dassance
What a “Class Act.” You’ve elevated us all, not only through your art, but also through our associations with you. You’ve showed us how to rise above our differences, work together, and accomplish great things. You have contributed so much to CFCC that a tremendous void will remain when you leave. May the years ahead be filled with wonder, accomplishment, excitement, and personal satisfaction. We will miss you!
~ Kathy Kilcrease
The first time I didn’t meet “the” Jack Thursby-
When I started teaching for the college as an adjunct, Lynne Boele had taken me under her wing, and invited me to meet “the” Jack Thursby over at HOPs for lunch.
I was excited and frantically searching ahead of time for clever things to say. After an hour, we decided that Jack had stood us up! But, it turned out he had a good reason, as his son had come into town unexpectedly and it was fine that that took precedence. Now, after 10 + years, I was fortunate to be in on the panel discussion about the responsibility of the artist with Jack; it was worth the wait.
~ Michele Wirt
tales and tips for staying on track
written by and for our Adjunct Faculty Members
The Myth of the Perfect Professor
by Danielle E. Batog, Social Sciences
It was one month, two days and twelve hours ago that I was asked if I would like to write an Adjunct Junction article for the April issue of Directions. I confess that during the days and weeks that followed I anguished over topics, perspectives, format and even the task of creating the appropriate title. I questioned my ability to dispense anecdotes, wisdom and entertaining snippets of my life here at CFCC from an adjunct’s perspective. Now, one month, two days and thirteen hours later, I continue to question my eager acceptance of such a daunting task. Yet, as any continual student of the school of psychology would do, I challenged myself to look inward and explore the possibilities of why I perceive the simple task of writing an article so daunting—especially this particular article. After all, I have written many articles for other publications ranging from anger management to the challenges of maintaining adult friendships. What makes this article so different? Is it the opinions that this article may generate? Could it be my perceived expectations of fellow faculty members? Or, could it be my own expectations of missing the mark and not producing the “perfect” article?
My “ah ha” moment finally arrived! One month, two days and fourteen hours later I have decided to write about what I know best (aside from my curriculum as an adjunct instructor of course). In my “other” off campus life, I own a consulting business that develops and presents workshops and seminars for women. Our most requested workshop is from our Navigating the Paths Women Share Ô series, titled “The Myth of the Perfect Woman.” If I can speak confidently to auditoriums of extraordinary women across the United States then certainly I can create an article that has the potential to speak to other adjuncts and provide them the opportunity to experience their “ah ha” moments.
Therefore, one month, three days and twelve hours later I present to you “The Myth of the Perfect Professor.” I don’t know about anyone else but I keep a running checklist of the qualities that I believe the “perfect” professor should exhibit. Although this list may change from time to time depending upon the kind of day that I am having, there are a few personal favorites that remain constant:
She/he can transform knowledge into effective student understanding.
She/he has effective strategies that encourage open communication.
She/he is able to provide appropriate student feedback while respecting strengths and weaknesses.
She/he has learning strategies that allow students to become actively involved in their learning.
She/he understands the latest trends and technology and can master the learning station without a hitch.
Where did this list originate? Did it originate with my undergraduate advisor Dr. Stephen Hobbs who allowed me to take Statistical Analysis three times until I got it right and then authored my letter of recommendation to graduate chool? Or was it Dr. Raylene Statz, my group counseling professor that encouraged me to be creative with my group research project to the extent that it became a successful business endeavor? Or was it Dr. Tommi Atkinson, my graduate school advisor, who believed that I could overload my last semester and graduate before my career Army husband was transferred to yet another foreign country? All of these individuals, and many not mentioned, are indeed the threads that make up my woven image of the “perfect” professor. Yet therein lays the myth, for there is no “perfect” professor. It is easy to create the image…by our own definition of “perfect”…but impossible to fulfill it.
We cannot compare ourselves to a myth. They are merely thoughts, with no true substance of who we are. I remember when I became pregnant with my first child and my mother was aghast that I actually thought I would be able to take care of a tiny infant. My response was, as long as I love this baby with all my heart then I can’t go wrong. The same belief holds true in regards to being an adjunct, I’m not perfect and never will be. However, as long as I continue to ove what I am doing, with all my heart, I will achieve my own personal best… my own definition of “perfect” and my students will reap the rewards.
One month, three days, and fifteen hours later I will share with the readers what I have learned on this journey of writing the “perfect” article:
Admit your need to be perfect. Accept that you are not. By reducing perfectionist demands on yourself you reduce stress.
Set realistic expectations. Aim for measurable improvements and attainable goals.
Concentrate on things you do well.
Avoid comparing yourself to others. Different does not mean better.
Define your own “personal best.”
And for those individuals that will be asked to contribute in the future to Adjunct Junction, remember—there is no such thing as the “perfect” article.
Dear Dr. Pantagruel,
My students asked to choose the sorts of tests I gave them, and they wanted True/False. I thought T/F tests were supposed to be easy, but my students are not successful. What’s my problem?
Perplexed in Poly Sci
Your problems are legion, beginning with your perverse notion of what students want. They want choices? Then do this: in addition to “T” and “F,” add “B” (both), “N” (neither), “S” (sometimes), “AA” (all of the above), and “AB” (all of the below). Next is your bizarre desire to make tests easy. The purpose of testing is to flunk students. Randomly assign correct answers to your key. A few students will slip by, but most will fail. That is success.
Dear Dr. Pantagruel,
I’ve been here for ten years, and I’m thinking of getting a doctorate. Should I go for an Ed.D. or a Ph.D.?
Baffled in Biology
Shame! You have the integrity of your discipline to uphold. Don’t sell out. Forget all about “scholarship” and “contributing,” blah blah blah. After all, why did you hang around here for ten years unless you plan to go into administration? Send Nova a check for an Ed.D., and double that salary. It’s either that, or work.
Dear Dr. Pantagruel,
I’m worried about this Baxley Bill’s attack on my rights. Is my academic freedom really in danger?
Fearful in physics
Surely you recall the immortal words of Rhodes Scholar Kris (Doctor Raucus) Kristofferson—“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” The real Bobby McGee was Kristofferson’s and Baxley’s mentor and a proponent of the thought of a first century Jewish sage who said that true liberation is relief of earthly burdens, like your precious little “rights.” Stick out a contrite academic thumb, climb up into the Baxley Bill diesel, and shed those shackles that you call academic freedoms. And remember, “Nothing ain’t worth nothing if it ain’t free,” which is as sensible as the bill.
Dear Dr. Pantypull,
Suddenly my classes have become Gordon Rule. Do I actually have to read and grade those papers?
Woeful in Wellness
Let me get this straight—you grade in wellness? Ha! That’s a good one.
Dear Dr. Pantagruel,
I give cumulative final exams in which I use questions from my previous tests. My students were tested on the material before, but they still do poorly on the finals. What gives?
Flummoxed in philosophy
Congratulations! You have: (1) saved yourself the trouble of making up a final, (2) stifled the whiners by letting them think the final will be easy, and (3) still flunked ’em aplenty. Can you do a workshop for the rest of us?
Dear Dr. Pantagruel,
Sometimes I hear my dean telling us to “get on the same page,” but then we are warned against a “cookie-cutter” approach. We are told not to try to “reinvent the wheel,” but then told to “think outside the box.” Help!
Reeling in religion
Three years ago our administrators attended a soirée in a mountain lodge in one of the rectangular states. The head charlatan from the Institute of Administrivial Mystification served up a chicaning chop suey called “Oriental Wisdom in Educational Leadership” in which he taught them the “ancient Chinese secret” of yin/yang, as well as how to carve radishes into water fowl. They returned home to do the Dance of the Incompatible Clichés or the Paralogical Pas de Deux. See them kick up their heels to “maintain highest standards” then gracefully dip to “meet students’ individual needs.” They tango along the “cutting edge” then pirouette to “focus on the basics.” But the alternative would be for them to select one cliché and be consistent. Would you want us all crowded onto one page or, dear God, banished from the box?
Dear Dr. Pastabowl,
Lately all I’ve heard is Jack Thursby this and Jack Thursby that. Who the hell is Jack Thursby, anyway?
Searching in Psych
Someone we’ll miss. Very much.
Here are two books that I recommend for summer (or anytime) reading:
Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, a very interesting concept for a novel with an extensive bibliography too!
I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books of all time, Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in anticipation of the movie’s release at the end of April. Can’t wait for the movie to come out!
~Liz from the Library
A powerful novel I recently read is 1990’s Age of Iron by J.M. Coetzee. The setting is the author’s native country of South Africa, where an elderly white woman with terminal cancer faces the reality of apartheid when her black housekeeper’s son is killed by police. After a lifetime of refusing to acknowledge black oppression, the lead character comes to terms with the brutality of her nation’s white minority rule—which clings to power despite its own increasingly terminal fate. Coetzee forces the reader of any time and place to ask what obligations we have in the face of injustice, for “when madness climbs the throne, who in the land escapes contagion?”
Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen.
Only one of the five ships of the Armade de Molucca returned; only a handful of the 250 sailors who had set out in 1519 to find the Spice Islands survived. Ferdinand Magellan himself was brutally killed (no thanks to his crew); but the circumnavigation of the globe was accomplished and the view of the cosmos forever changed by this expedition.
This book is very readable and informative. Bergreen gives his readers vivid glimpses of Magellan’s ambitious personality, life at sea in an early 16 th century vessel, and, thanks to a man named Antonio Pigafetta who kept a dairy of the excursion, fascinating descriptions of life on islands previously untainted by western civilization.
~ Joe Zimmerman
The CFCC Book Club Announces 2005-2006 Readings.
All book discussions will be in the Professional Development Meeting Room, Building 1 from noon to 1 p.m.
Friday, September 23 The Partly Cloudy Patriot
by Sarah Vowell
facilitated by Sandra Cooper
Friday, October 28 The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
facilitated by Dean Blinkhorn
Friday, November 18 Running with Scissors
by Auguston Burroughs
facilitated by Stacie Priest
December (TBA) Book Donation Party
at Amy Mangan’s
Friday, January 27 Who is Jesus? Answers to Your Questions About the Historical Jesus
by John Dominic Crossant and Richard Watts
facilitated by Ron Cooper
Friday, February 24 Confederacy of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole
facilitated by Amy Mangan
Friday, March 24 Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady
by Florence King
facilitated by Susan Bradshaw
Friday, April 24 “Open Mike” Poetry Sharing
facilitated by Dennis Owen
You are welcome to join us!