Today, July 19, 2014 is a good day

I am so very glad to be back at BC.  Life is good.

Degrees of Inequality5:30 a.m.

Started off my day reading Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream and thinking that we should probably have Civic Literacy as one of our Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs).

The author, Suzanne Mettler asks the question “Why (does) reform become possible?” The theoretical basis used by the author to structure the analysis is that of “three political streams”:

  1. Problem Stream – recognition and definition of need
  2. Political Stream – emergence of political will
  3. Policy Proposal Stream – existence of viable alternatives

The author makes three observations with regard to this theoretical framing

  1. These “streams” must be considered in the context of the existing “policyscape”, as this is what frames both need (problem) and alternatives (policy), as well as motivates willpower (political).
  2. The policy proposal stream is rarely the limiting factor – good alternatives abound – in this case, the alternative of “direct lending” by the government was around long before it was enacted in 2010. However, it took the convergence of the problem and political streams to make that policy stream viable.
  3. Frequently a “locked in” dynamic is established that is self-reinforcing for the status quo

You can see why I started thinking about how important it is for our students to leave BC with a fundamental knowledge on how to understand the political landscape and how policy impacts day-to-day life.

9:00 a.m.

Sonya Body Pump June 2014

Sonya Christian

After that I went to my Saturday exercise class which launched a new routine last week; hence the sore muscles :)

Here is BC’s wellness core value:

We believe health and wellness to be integral and foundational elements, and we understand that a holistic education improves all aspects of the individual and the society including the mind, body, and spirit; through education, we will positively impact the health of the natural environment and the global community.



10:00 a.m. It’s Possible at BC

I then headed out to BC to see what Steve Watkin and the BC gang were up to with the It’s Possible event.  Many counselors, advisors, staff and students were there helping new students assess, complete their orientation, their education plan and then register for classes. We registered approximately 125 students today.  Yes!!!!  See more pictures at the end of the blog.

Its Possible July 19 2014 Group

Sonya Christian with Steve Watkin and the It’s Possible Team. July 19, 2014.


Yay, I am officially a mentor:

At 3:30 p.m. today, I received an email from Janet Fulks assigning me two new students to mentor as part of the Making it Happen initiative that we are launching this fall.  This is a signature initiative that ties in the matriculation requirement of the SSSP, the equity requirement of the Student Success legislation, as well as our Achieving The Dream (ATD) plan. I was so excited that I immediately contacted them.  Here is my email to them:

Hi *****:

Just wanted to drop you a quick email and say hello.  I have been assigned to be your mentor as part of the Making it Happen (MIH) initiative that the College launched this year.  You are part of this pilot initiative.

I am including the two communications that you should have already received:

      1. A letter from Dr. Kimberly Blingh about the Summer Bridge that culminates with a dinner on August 15th.
      2. A welcome email from me and the Making it Happen team inviting you to the August 19th Convocation Ceremony.

Are you planning on attending both events? Let me know.

Also, my cell phone … .  Please feel free to text me if you have any questions. What is your number?

Looking forward to having you at BC.

Tina Johnson5:30 p.m.

Inspiring words from our classified union president:

Then I re-read an email Tina Johnson sent me about an article from a student success summit regarding just how important support staff are to the colleges they work for.

Joe Cuseo, an educational consultant, presented Integrating Academic and Student Affairs: Promoting Student Success through the Curriculum & Co-Curriculum. The full paper is available for download, but Tina sent me one part of the article. To each and every support staff who reads this blog, remember, you are critical to Bakersfield College and our students!  Here is the piece:

The Educational Role of Support Staff in Higher Education

Support staff at institutions of higher learning have the potential to be much more than customer service agents; they can also be experiential educator and student success agents. This expanded view of staff embraces the traditional emphasis on customer service, but is more inclusive and embraces the idea that students are more than customers; they are also clients and, ultimately, our “products” after graduating and assuming occupational and leadership positions. The work performed by support staff in a “learning organization” has loftier goals than the corporate world; it goes beyond merely satisfying customers and maximizing profit to enriching the lives of students and contributing to their future success.

In addition, because of their direct, first-hand contact with students on a regular basis, staff members also have the potential to functions as assessment agents by gathering data on student experiences that may be used to promote institutional effectiveness and continual quality improvement. For example, they can assess whether students are receiving clear and fair communication about campus policies and procedures, and are encountering the least amount of organizational red tape and insensitive institutional bureaucracy.

Staff working on college campuses can play a major role as educators who contribute to students’ learning, development, and persistence to graduation in the following ways:

  • by the behavior they model,
  • by their sensitive and reasoned explanations and interpretations of college policies for students,
  • by how they handle student conflicts with college personnel,
  • by their responsiveness to and referral of students in crises, and
  • by their instruction and mentoring of student employees (e.g., work-study students).

The educational potential of staff can be maximized if campuses taking a more inclusive approach to promoting student success by being more intentional about:

  • * including staff in professional development opportunities,
  • * involving staff on key campus committees, and
  • * encouraging staff to be research and retention agents by seeking out and systematically documenting students’ campus perceptions and experiences, documenting “critical incidents,” and contributing ideas for streamlining or minimizing institutional bureaucracy

Unfortunately, staff influence of staff on promoting students retention, learning, and development has been underestimated, underutilized, and under appreciated on most college and university campuses. Robert Parker, Director of Human Resource at Stanford University, reports that “the best organizations see employees as contributing directly to the purposes of the organization and its success, [however] staff often feel like second-class citizens who are shown little appreciation and who aren’t sure in what way their jobs make a difference to the school.”

In a doctoral dissertation designed to identify key factors that impact the successful performance of students and staff, Vieira (1996) reported results indicating that positive student interaction with staff has a positive effect on students’ institutional satisfaction and persistence. Conversely, poor student-staff relationships were associated with student dissatisfaction and disconnection with the campus. Furthermore, it was discovered that staff members benefit from positive relationships with students, as evidenced by increased staff satisfaction with their work, increased satisfaction with their interactions with students, and a stronger feeling that their work had educational value. Lastly, certain factors were found to be consistently contributed to positive student-staff interaction and the provision of quality student service, namely: staff training, empowerment, teamwork, reward, and association with other service providers. Conversely, lack of empowerment, hierarchy, territoriality, and dissociation from other service providers were found to detract from the provision of quality service to students.

6:30 p.m. Call from my daughter

And then the cherry on top of this very delicious day was a call from my extremely busy and beautiful daughter Eisha letting me know that she was coming down to spend a weekend here in Bakersfield in two weeks.  woo hoo.  Life is good!

Enjoy these pictures:

Liz Peisner and Steve Watkin July 19 2014

Liz Peisner and Steve Watkin at It’s Possible. July 19, 2014

photo 2

SGA with Steve Watkin

Its possible July 19 2014 Photo 3

Victor Diaz and Emily Bartel at It’s Possible. July 17, 2014

photo 5photo 4

BC Renegade Pantry Fundraises with United Way

Donations to Renegade Pantry

Della Hodson, Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Kern County, Liz Peisner, Dalton Martino, and Shelby Sward.

On Thursday evening, May 15, the United Way of Kern County’s Women’s Leadership Council hosted an event at The Mark, to benefit the BC Renegade Pantry. KCCD Associate Vice Chancellor Dr. Michele Bresso opened the presentation with remarks, and Director of Student Life Dr. Elizabeth Peisner was asked to share some highlights of the BC Renegade Pantry, our proposed expansion of services, and the benefits to our students in need.

We were joined by SGA President, Ms. Shelby Sward, and Renegade Pantry Coordinator, Mr. Dalton Martino, who met with members of the community to share their insights about the Pantry.

Faculty and staff from BC, including Ms. Shohreh Rahman, were in attendance.

Other highlights of the evening included about 100 pounds of canned goods and non-perishable food items donated to the Pantry, and nearly $500. was raised in one night, all to benefit BC students in need.

The partnership began because The Renegade Pantry was the featured community project of United Way of Kern County’s Women’s Leadership Council. To drive home the impact of hunger, attendees answered a questionnaire as an icebreaker, filled with information about hunger in America, food banks on college campuses, BC stats about our students, and the history of our Renegade Pantry.

Community leaders in attendance requested to partner with BC, the Office of Student Life, and the Renegade Pantry, for upcoming donation drives, including Macy’s – Bakersfield.

Many thanks to United Way of Kern County CEO Della Hodson, for reaching out to Bakersfield College in partnership to benefit our students!

HerWorld Came to Bakersfield College

According to research, careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are growing 2-3 times faster than any other career field, but the number of high school students enrolling in STEM-related degree fields continues to drop. Bakersfield College’s effort to increase student participation and success in STEM careers is apparent in many of our efforts on campus and in the community. Building a STEM future, particularly among girls, starts early. This Spring, Bakersfield College partnered with DeVry University to present HerWorld, a day-long program for high school girls.Thank you Michele Bresso for making this connection for BC.

The event brought busloads of high school girls to the Bakersfield College campus for an opportunity to interact with peers, participate in educational and confidence-building activities, and receive advice from successful female leaders in the community to motivate them to prepare and succeed in college to reach their career dreams. HerWorld participants saw live demonstrations, toured STEM laboratories, and even built robots! Once again, Bakersfield College’s team effort made an amazing event – and hopefully – changed the education and career paths of a few girls!Thank you Liz Rozell and all faculty and staff in STEM for making this happen.

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SGA Students Take the Lead at Statewide Conference

20140504_105420During the weekend of May 2-4, Bakersfield College SGA students participated in the Spring 2014 General Assembly of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC), held in Los Angeles. This year’s theme was “Courage to Take the Lead: Inspiring the Future.” BC’s delegation included Acting SGA President, Shelby Ashton Sward, accompanied by incoming SGA 2014-2015 officers, Alex Dominguez (President-Elect),  Aeri Kim (Director of Finance-elect), and Reg Autwell (Director of Clubs and Organizations-elect), and advisor, Liz Peisner. Our students participated in a number of breakout sessions, collaborating with student leaders from community colleges up and down the state of California, on topics such as Veterans’ services, the upcoming implementation of SSSP, sustainability, and equity and diversity. Our BC students brought their Bakersfield regional experience to the table for statewide discussion, engaging in debate on matters unique to their region, such as Kern County’s priority of water conservation, and concerns over divestment of fossil fuel industries.

BmuPNxgCIAAM0U9In a move of solidarity with other California community colleges, BC delegate Shelby Sward participated in a heated debate on the GA floor, related to equity and access to academic services and student success for deaf and hard of hearing students.

Incoming SGA president Alex Dominguez reflected on his experience: “SSCCC was a great opportunity for all of us to better connect with other community colleges across the state. I saw it as a great leadership opportunity to represent and stand up for Bakersfield College and Bakersfield as a whole. Not only did I learn a lot, it was a great networking opportunity. I met countless counterparts along with many other college leaders. This also gave me an opportunity to better know my incoming SGA Board along with the existing SGA President. I strongly recommend that we attend this event again and that we bring several resolutions to the table in 2014/15. Bakersfield College has a very open opportunity to be known by establishing strong leadership and advocacy at this event.”

2014-05-02 09.31.09Informed by pre-conference feedback from our own BC faculty in the Foreign Languages and ASL department, Sward spoke up in opposition of dividing one of two resolutions, instead advocating for the importance of equity of access and services in the academic, counseling, and extracurricular environment. Following her sound leadership and advocacy, delegates immediately moved to call the question. The motion to divide failed, and the resolution passed in its entirety. The sponsoring delegation from Los Angeles Trade Tech College asked to meet with our team following the session, for pictures and discussion on best practices as implemented here at BC.

BmzgoWuCMAEkANUAutwell reflected on his experience, stating “For the most part I found this GA to be an interesting experience, as I have never been involved with student government before. I was surprised to find out how many colleges were in Region 5 and it was interesting to watch how our region works. The best experience I had was with the Spectrum Caucus. I am now Region 5’s interim representative for the caucus, and have been elected to be the representative for the new-year, starting in July. The Spectrum Caucus is very involved in providing information, not only to members of the LGBTQIA community, but also to students, about these groups. I am particularly curious on the plan to spread awareness regarding the Trans Gender population, and how they will support the Trans Gender students.”

Our newly revised constitution and restructuring of our SGA was a topic of discussion, and numerous advisors have contacted our Office of Student Life for best practices, training modules, information on the Renegade Pantry, and other opportunities for future collaboration. Our students entered General Assembly this year, with our continued promise for “Renegade Rises,” and came away with new allies in student representative government, demonstrating the best of BC, Renegade pride, and a fortified SGA.

Grimmway Academy Thrives in Arvin

barbara grim, the principal, jim young and a student

Barbara Grimm with the Principal of Grimmway Academy, a student, and Jim Young

Many of our BC students come to us from Arvin High School, so we are familiar with the city of Arvin and its population. In fact, we have a group of Arvin High students participating in our CalSOAP Student Success initiative. What you may not know is that, Arvin is home to one of Kern County’s newest and most forward-thinking elementary schools- Grimmway Academy.

Grimmway Academy is a “charter school” founded by Barbara Grimm-Marshall, co-owner of Grimmway Farms. The largest producer of carrots in the world, this company has called Kern County home for more than 30 years. Though her family’s business had supported education through various programs and activities since 1981, including starting a scholarship program in 1998, Barbara Grimm noted that the numbers of applicants to the company’s college scholarship was seemingly low. Through research, Grimmway discovered that many of these children were performing far below grade level in reading and math, as well as suffering from alarmingly high rates of Childhood Obesity and Diabetes. So, in 2010, Barbara Grimm-Marshall founded the Grimm Family Education Foundation to help raise expectations and outcomes for the students of Kern County. Wanting to make a positive impact on the education of these young children, the foundation sought to open its own charter school in Arvin, which had the county’s lowest rate of math and English proficiency in elementary school students.

Grimmway Academy has students in grades K-5th.  In January 2011, after overcoming numerous obstacles, Grimmway Academy opened its doors in August of that year with 280 K-3 students. Two years later, the school has added two grades and almost 160 students since. So, what makes this school so unique, what is the vision Barbara Grimm-Marshall fought so hard to unfold? To start, Grimmway Academy operates on a “block” schedule in which students cycle through four “blocks” a day of various subjects throughout the week taught by teachers who specialize in their fields, not unlike the way a typical high school schedule works. Grimmway Academy strives to build a solid relationship with students and their teachers by featuring an extended school day (from 8am to 3:30, with multiple enriching after school programs until 6), 20:1 student teacher ratio, and individualized student attention.

Grimmway Academy students

Grimmway Academy classroom

Grimmway’s curriculum combines creative classroom learning with state-of-the-art equipment.

In addition to its excellent teachers, Grimmway Academy has state of the art campus facilities privately funded by the Grimm Family Education Foundation. Along with brand new classrooms equipped with Smart Boards, the school features a full-sized soccer field (which holds after school soccer programs in partnership with CSUB Soccer). The school holds 25% of students’ instruction in its interactive learning lab. Filled with computers, shelves of books, and individual learning stations-it also has a gallery of college flags and banners lining its walls. One of the main goals of the school is to ensure every student who graduates is fully prepared to apply to college when the time comes, and it instills this in its students constantly.

Grimmway Academy Edible Schoolyard

Grimmway Academy’s curriculum features an Edible Schoolyard – teaching students the basics of agriculture.

Perhaps the most unique part of Grimmway Academy is its Edible Schoolyard. It is an organic garden and kitchen classroom located onsite, in which students learn about and develop a healthy relationship with the food they eat by growing, nurturing, harvesting and preparing food with their fellow classmates. This hands-on experience is like no other, and truly gives children a deeper sense of understanding of the natural world around them, and the “real life” process of how food makes it from the farm to their table. Additionally, the Grimmway Academy’s cafeteria (or the Cafe as they call it) chefs create meals that feature the same seasonal produce that the children engage with in the Edible Schoolyard, bringing the “curriculum” full circle.

Parents whose children attend Grimmway Academy are required as part of enrollment to volunteer in some capacity at the school. This is something that really solidifies the connection between school and home as part of the students’ overall community life. While some were initially turned off, many parents have come to enjoy the enhanced relationship with their students’ school life. This last year, 97% of parents completed the required hours, and 100% attended all parent conferences.

So, has it worked? The numbers seem to point to a resounding “Yes!”. Along with the parental involvement rates mentioned previously, in the 2012-13 school year student attendance was 97.5%. Additionally, the school’s Academic Performance Index (API, the score that California Department of Education uses to measure a school’s academic performance and growth) jumped from a 788 in 2011-12 to a whopping 839 the following year (39 points over the standard of 800 that California sets).

Congratulation Grimmway Academy!  Looking forward to having you enroll at BC while you are in high school and then later becoming a Renegade.


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