Monthly Archives: January 2021

COVID-19 Testing Ends at Osceola Campus

Friday, January 29, 2021

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

Osceola County, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Health, conducted testing for COVID-19 at the Osceola Campus from Monday, January 4 through Saturday, January 23, 2021. More than 7,200 tests were administered during this time, so this partnership was incredibly helpful for our community. Thank you to the staff on campus who ensured that this drive-through event was a success.


Monthly Archives: January 2021

Enjoy a Virtual Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architecture at Florida Southern College

Friday, January 29, 2021

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

Date: Thursday, February 4, 2021
Time: 12 – 2 p.m.
Location: Zoom 

Join a virtual tour of Florida Southern College, which boasts a great collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Our tour guide, Jack Coffey, is a native of Central Florida, a Wright enthusiast, and the Coordinator of Tours and Education Programs for the visitor center at Florida Southern College.

If you have any questions or need more information about this event, please contact Humanities Professor Adriene Tribble.

Monthly Archives: January 2021

The Osceola Humanities Department Presents ‘Immigration Under a New Administration: Rights and Reform’

Friday, January 29, 2021

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Time: 1 p.m. 
Location: Zoom 

You and your students are invited to join Sara Mora, a DACA Dreamer who came to the United States with her parents when she was three, for this Zoom event on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 1 p.m. Sara is a sought-after voice in the work of social change with a focus on helping the migrant community. She aims to ensure that migrant communities have a platform where their voices are being heard. Sharing her story as an undocumented immigrant led her to become the voice of Teen Vogue’s campaign for voter registration. She is the first Latina co-president elected for Women’s March Youth Empower National. In March 2020, she was named one of the top 10 young Latinx activists/leaders changing the world by Pop Sugar and Do Something. She believes that the world can be changed and is certainly doing her part.

Please share this event with your students. Feel free to email Humanities Professor Kathryn Cairns if you have any questions or you would like to participate in future events.

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Faculty Governance Update — January 2021

Thursday, January 28, 2021

A Message from Stanton Reed, Past President, Collegewide Faculty Association

It has been quite a journey being your representative in our governance structure in this moment. We’ve read books together. We’ve faced the COVID-19 challenge together in our homes, which became our place of work, living, and family space. We’ve shared our understanding and grace with one another. We’ve navigated teaching fully online together. We’ve met the needs of our students in this season together.

We’ve been confronted with the difficult reality of social injustice in the world and here in our Valencia community together. We’ve also written letters and expressed how we feel about the issues of racial inequity together. We’ve celebrated together. We’ve met faculty on other campuses whom we would have never met without this crisis, which led us to redefine words such as Zoom and Teams. We even created team names such as Flash, Planning Continuity and CARES, among others.

We created policies for our students showing our empathy and ensuring their success in this uncharted season. We’ve had collegewide and campus town hall meetings. We’ve had our first virtual Academic Assembly and an after party to celebrate our new school year. We’ve experienced our senior team meet the challenges of this season with focus, attentiveness, sensitivity, and integrity. We’ve experienced Valencia College in ways we never dreamed possible. And most of all, we have been grateful and shared these experiences together.

As you may recall, in August 2020, I shared that our new Faculty Association President Patrick Bartee was facing a health difficulty that would be deeply challenging to him for six months. So Patrick could focus his energy and concentration on healing, I assisted him by serving as interim president until his return. I am elated to share that Patrick has returned and is now fully in the role as Faculty Association president through the remainder of his term, and I will continue in my role as past president. Welcome back Patrick!

Before I sign off from my last message, I want to thank you — faculty, deans, staff and senior team. I am forever grateful to all of you and am appreciative of your support during my original and extended terms. If you could see me now, you’d see a tear. This has really been a remarkable experience to be a part of the governance process in this way.

With that, I’ll pass it on to Patrick, who is quite an extraordinary person, and I assure you that you’re in great hands. To read about him, click here. Patrick, take it away!

A Message from Patrick Bartee, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

Hello faculty! I am so excited to return to my Valencia College home and to be your Faculty Association president through August 2021.

I have some really big shoes to fill! First, thank you Stanton for your support and continuing the momentum of our fine Faculty Association while I was out on leave. And thanks to Stanton, as well as former past presidents John Niss, interim executive dean, Winter Park Campus, and Al Groccia, professor, mathematics, for preparing me for this role and especially teaching me that listening is actually more important than talking.

During my term, my goal is to ensure that you have a voice and are not overlooked. I consider the faculty to be the lungs of Valencia College, and without us the College would not breathe or have life. I want to make sure that everyone knows and hears us and that we will continue to be knowledgeable about the overall well-being of the College as a whole.

Before we move into some business, I want to share with you my personal cell number. As I’m functioning without vocal cords, please text me at any time at 407-529-6595 or contact me via email at if you have any faculty questions, concerns, etc. I can’t wait to hear from you.

Now for some business. In the Thursday, January 21, 2021, Faculty Council meeting, we covered the following:

Faculty Ombuds Representative
In collaboration with the Faculty Association, the Equal Opportunity team is soliciting interest for a faculty ombuds representative to support all faculty in navigating College policies and procedures and connecting faculty with available dispute resolution resources. The faculty ombuds representative serves in a collegewide capacity to support full-time and part-time faculty. To read more about this opportunity, click here.  

Atlas Transition
This spring, Atlas will be upgraded with a new look. With this new upgrade, you will have access to all of the content currently in Atlas, with an enhanced user experience that will allow for an enhanced user experience, mobile responsive and ADA compliance.

In preparation for the launch of the new Atlas in March, a group of faculty and staff members have been assembled to perform testing and documentation review throughout February. Thank you to the faculty who volunteered to be a part of this testing team:

  • Brandon Armstrong, professor, mathematics
  • Emilie Buckley, librarian
  • Laura D’Alessio, professor, biology
  • Dominic DiPaolo, professor, digital media
  • Jerry Hensel, professor, computer programming and analysis
  • Amanda Kern, professor, graphic design
  • Robin Simmons, professor, English

Again, I am so elated to represent you this year. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns via text at 407-529-6595 or email at

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Faculty Highlight: Laura Sessions Provides an Interactive Lab Experience During COVID

Thursday, January 28, 2021

By Claudia Zequeira

What does it take to successfully teach Organic Chemistry I in a purely online environment?

The answer, of course, depends on whom you ask, but if you ask Laura Sessions, professor, chemistry, she’ll tell you it takes at least 37 videos.

“And that’s just one lab experience for one class,” said Laura, who began teaching at Valencia in 2010.

With the help of Valencia Productions, Laura has painstakingly directed the creation of these videos in an attempt to replicate a laboratory experience lost to students after the pandemic caused our campuses to close.

“At the beginning of COVID, this was a PowerPoint of still pictures,” said Laura, who also teaches Organic Chemistry II. “It was not nearly as dynamic and we missed all the lab techniques … This is a step up from what the students experienced at the beginning of all this.”

“It was important to me that it be real and have video of actual reactions in the lab. And it was important to me to that it was interactive so that there was a little bit of the critical thinking for students,” she added.

Because of the high quality of the recordings, modeling laboratory techniques with precision became possible in her Organic Chemistry I course.

Suddenly, students could differentiate between two separate but incredibly similar liquids and observe proper techniques for purifying, mixing and measuring them. The videos also showed students how to wear personal protective equipment like goggles and gloves and how to handle laboratory equipment correctly; among other vital skills required by industry.

Watch one of the demonstrations below as student and Lab Assistant II Rosarnie Perez demonstrates lab techniques in one of Laura’s class videos.

Under Laura’s direction, the videos were then integrated into a holistic learning experience. In order to accomplish this task, she enlisted the help of Gary Kokaisel, faculty development, instructional designer.

With Gary’s help, she was able to integrate a navigation pathway through her virtual lab lesson that guided students through a series of steps that both imparted and tested knowledge.

Specifically, students were tasked with identifying an unknown chemical, which could only be accomplished by measuring and comparing physical properties and by conducting certain qualitative chemical tests.

The process, which involved creating nine possible pathways for students to follow, essentially mimicked real-life scientific inquiry and made for a very interactive experience as students sought to solve the given puzzle.

“[After arriving at each pathway] students have to make a decision … and say, okay, am I going to measure the density, am I going to look at the solubility, and then they have to do careful observations of each procedure in order to make the identification,” said Laura.

A screenshot of one of the many interactive pathways created for the ”Qualitative Analysis of an Unknown” lab for Organic Chemistry I lab.

Although the credit for creating the lesson goes to Laura, she made sure to praise the work of lab staff, designers and videographers at the College who made it all possible.

Besides Gary, Laura commended the work of Michael Maguire, operations manager, video productions, and Scott Smith, producer, multimedia, who filmed and edited the videos; Rosarnie Perez, laboratory assistant II, who lent her talent to on-camera demonstrations; and Justine Monsalve, manager, laboratories, who assisted with securing lab materials and equipment.

“I want to emphasize that this was only possible because of the great team of people that we had from all these departments,” said Laura. “That’s what it took to do all this work.”

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Testimonial Videos Show How Faculty and Staff Are Using LifeMap to Improve Their Practice

Thursday, January 28, 2021

By Sally Leslie, Campus Director, Faculty and Instructional Development

When we decide to devote our time to earning a certification at Valencia College, we might seek out colleagues who have been there before us and ask them what the experience is like. Now, the LifeMap team has done this for you by asking colleagues to share short video testimonials that speak to both the LifeMap Certification experience and its practical use in the learning environment. This certification is Valencia Faculty Development’s oldest certification and with good reason. LifeMap offers its participants one-to-one mentorship and is open to both faculty and staff.

In the LifeMap video, you will see LifeMap faculty alumni speaking about how they have each employed the following LifeMap Certification outcomes:

  • Apply the principles of LifeMap, one of the Essential Competencies of a Valencia Educator, to improve their practice.
  • Integrate LifeMap and College Success Skills into their current practice.
  • Engage in continuous improvement processes, through the completion of an infusion project, with the goal of enhanced student learning.
  • Develop professional relationships throughout the division, campus and College.
  • Contribute to an evolving community of peers focused on reflection, innovation and enhanced student learning.

In this video, you may recognize your colleagues whom we would like to thank for their participation in this project: Tina Tan, professor, speech (voice over artist); Kaitlyn Brooker, faculty, New Student Experience (face-to-face teaching clip); Ashley Cabrera; multimedia designer (video editing); Patrick Bartee, professor, speech; Jane Maguire, professor, education; Len Kornblau; part-time faculty, business; David Freeman, professor, English; Jen Brunk, professor, English; Jasmine Nokaly; professor, English; Cheri Cutter; interim dean, business; Carl Creasman, professor, history; and Bianca Alamo, former faculty and instructional support specialist, who was our film maker on this project.

If you are interested in signing up for the LifeMap Certification, we have the first course in the series, LFMP3339: Fundamentals of LifeMap beginning on Monday, February 8, 2021. Click this link to register. We look forward to seeing you there!

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Important Associate Faculty Certification Program Reminders

Thursday, January 28, 2021

A Message from Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice President, Teaching and Learning

This is an important reminder regarding Valencia College’s Associate Faculty Certification.

Initial Certification
If you are currently taking courses toward initial certification for the 2021 – 2022 academic year, please remember that the deadline is Tuesday, June 15, 2021, to submit the online application. Initial certification requires the successful completion of a minimum of 60 professional development hours including LCTS1110: Teaching in Our Learning College (as reflected on your Valencia faculty development transcript).

Certification Renewal
If you are seeking renewal of your certification for the 2021 – 2022 academic year, please remember to complete the application by Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Renewal certification requires the successful completion of a minimum of 20 professional development hours at Valencia. With dean approval, up to five of those professional development hours may now be completed outside of Valencia College, such as a conference, workshop, course, etc. To include external professional development activities toward your renewal for the 2021-2022 academic year, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The external professional development activities must be related to one of the Essential Competencies of a Valencia Educator.
  2. You must seek approval from your dean to apply external professional development activities toward your Associate Faculty Certification Renewal prior to participating in the external activities. Your dean will provide all the required details, the form for documentation needed to complete the external activities, and the amount of professional development hours awarded (up to five per academic year) that will be applied toward the 20 professional development hours required for your renewal.
  3. Once you have completed the approved external professional development activities, submit the form with your dean’s signature along with the documentation of the completed activities as part of your Associate Faculty Renewal with external PD application by Tuesday, June 15, 2021.

Please visit the Associate Faculty webpage for further details.

For questions, please contact the Campus Directors of Faculty and Instructional Development:

Shara Lee – Osceola Campus, Lake Nona Campus and Poinciana Campus
407-299-5000, extension 4723

Dori Haggerty – West Campus and Downtown Campus
407-299-5000, extension 1051

Sally Leslie – East Campus, Winter Park Campus and School of Public Safety
407-299-5000, extension 5142

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Add Open Education Resources and Free Library Materials to Your Courses

Thursday, January 28, 2021

As you continue planning for the spring semester, consider adding Open Educational Resources (OER) content and free library materials to your course. OER are teaching and learning materials that are free and legal to share, use and re-mix, depending on their license. These materials can help increase student success by lowering economic barriers presented by the high cost of textbooks, and they allow faculty to include diverse perspectives to meet their students’ needs.

In past years, Valencia College librarians have worked across the disciplines to help faculty incorporate OER into their syllabi with success. Making course resources accessible has never been more important. The Valencia College Library also has subscriptions to many resources that can be embedded in Canvas to supplement your course materials. Even though these resources are not technically OER, they can be used together with free, reproducible, online content to reduce students’ costs. For additional information, please read our FAQs below.

Faculty OER Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using OER?

  • OER eliminate the barrier to education that the high cost of textbooks often imposes.
  • They help to reduce equity gaps.
  • They can increase the currency and relevancy of content, since most content can quickly be updated. Also, students learn more when they have access to quality, relevant materials.
  • OER help your students have access to the materials on the first day of classes.
  • OER can be freely edited, mixed and redistributed in accordance with their license terms.

Where can I locate OER materials and free library resources?

These following websites offer textbooks as well as supplemental course content:

  • MERLOT: The MERLOT collection consists of tens of thousands of discipline-specific learning materials, learning exercises and content builder webpages, together with associated comments and bookmark collections, all intended to enhance the teaching experience of using a learning material.
  • OER Commons: A digital public library and collaboration platform that offers a comprehensive infrastructure for curriculum experts and instructors at all levels to identify high-quality OER and collaborate around their adaptation, evaluation and use to address the needs of teachers and learners.
  • Open Textbook Library: Textbooks in the Open Textbook Library are considered open because they are free to use and distribute, and are licensed to be freely adapted or changed with proper attribution.
  • Mason OER Metafinder: The Mason OER Metafinder will search multiple OER repositories at once, so you can get an idea of the resources available to you across multiple channels.
  • Items in Library Databases: While these items have more copyright restrictions than OER (for example, they usually can’t be modified), the library has purchased licenses that allow you to freely use this content in your courses. They’re another great way to reduce costs for students and ensure access on the first day of class.

Where can I find films?

The library has several databases with short educational clips (interviews, lab demonstrations, etc.), feature-length documentaries and major motion pictures. If a film isn’t available, email your campus librarians to see if we can add it for you.

  • Films on Demand: lots of educational content, including short clips
  • Swank: full movies, documentaries and major motion pictures
  • Kanopy: full movies, motion pictures but also educational documentaries from BBC, PBS, etc.

All of these are accessible by logging into Atlas. On the Employees tab, under Libraries, click on Search the Library Catalog. Then click the Databases A-Z button at the top of the screen and scroll down to view databases alphabetically.

How can I embed this content in my Canvas course?

The Library’s Faculty Quick Start Guide has video tutorials on how to embed content from each database.

How do I know what materials are OER?

Most OERs are covered by Creative Commons Licenses. For the most part, you’ll see CC-BY or CC-BY-SA as the license type. These give you permission to modify or “remix” the content as long as you attribute the original author. Our Creative Commons LibGuide breaks down the different Creative Commons license types and the requirements associated with each of them. If you have any questions about what is covered in the license, please reach out to the OER committee or your campus librarian. We’d be happy to help you interpret it.

What if you don’t have what I need?

If you have any supplemental resources like an eBook, journal article or film that you’d like to embed into your course, a librarian can help. Resources like eBooks and films are especially popular. While they’re not modifiable like an OER, they are great resources that you can offer to students at zero cost. Email a librarian to request the purchase of library materials.

How do I find out more?

You can find more information and links to OER repositories by visiting the OER LibGuide or contacting a librarian for a one-on-one consultation.

Who can help me add or incorporate OER content and library materials in my course?

Contact your campus librarian or any of the librarians on the OER Committee below. We’re happy to help!

Emilie Buckley, librarian – Lake Nona Campus
407-299-5000, extension 7009

Ciara Hensley, emerging technology librarian, East Campus
407-299-5000, extension 2812

Adam Johnson, emerging technology librarian, Winter Park Campus
407-299-5000, extension 6019

Devika Ramsingh, librarian, West Campus
407-299-5000, extension 1536

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Teaching for Equity: Introduction to Culturally Responsive Teaching

Thursday, January 28, 2021

A Message from Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice President, Teaching and Learning; Isis Artze-Vega, Vice President, Academic Affairs; Sally Leslie, Campus Director, Faculty and Instructional Development; and Claudine Bentham, Faculty Director, Teaching and Learning Academy 

The College has taken important steps in our equity efforts since the last edition of “Teaching for Equity.” Among them, our District Board of Trustees approved Impact Plan goals and metrics, each reflecting our commitment to equity; and several equity-focused work teams have begun meeting, including groups focused on our Black male students, our employee experiences, leadership for equity and equity-minded practices in pedagogy and curriculum. Meanwhile, the Teaching and Learning team has developed new courses in the equity-minded practice series, including Antiracist Language and  Linguistic Justice and Creating an Inclusive Syllabus.

This communication contributes to our collective development toward equity-mindedness by introducing a construct and set of practices known as culturally responsive teaching (CRT), one well aligned with our diverse student population and ambitious equity goals. After defining and briefly describing the origins of CRT, we offer a glimpse of what it looks like in practice and share a few key resources.

What are the origins of CRT, and how does it work?

American pedagogical theorist and educator Gloria Ladson-Billings introduced the concept of culturally relevant teaching in the early 1990s. While studying effective teachers of African American students, she noted that many students’ experiences and cultures had been excluded from their schooling and identified three goals on which the effective teachers’ practices were grounded: students’ academic success, the positive development of their racial/ethnic identities, and their ability to name and critique societal inequities. She saw that culturally relevant practitioners were empowering students both intellectually and psychosocially.

Since then, a deep field of research has developed around CRT in both the K-12 and higher education sectors, including important work by Geneva Gay, Sonia Nieto, Zaretta Hammond, Margery Ginsberg and Raymond Wlodkowski.

One widely used definition of culturally responsive teaching is Gay’s (2000) pedagogy-focused version: “using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them.” Scholars offer varied descriptions of how CRT “works,” how it leads to more equitable outcomes for students. Two of the strongest rationales relate CRT to student motivation and cognitive science: Ginsberg and Wlodkowski developed a culturally responsive framework focused on motivational conditions, given the central role motivation plays in learning and their conviction that motivation is inseparable from culture. Meanwhile, Hammond’s text “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain” (available as an e-book in our libraries) and her Ready for Rigor Framework exemplify a cognition-based approach. By helping instructors “understand the brain-based principles that govern culturally responsive teaching,” she writes, we can stimulate “students’ cognitive development and grow self-directed learners” (p. 6).

One specific example of a culturally responsive principle rooted in cognitive science is that our brains are wired for connection; we learn and store information more effectively when we are engaged. That connection and engagement can be enhanced by acknowledging what students bring into the classroom every day, including their culture, language, and life experiences.

An Asset-based Mindset

Culturally responsive teaching practices convey that we value all students and recognize that their varied backgrounds and life experiences are an asset to their learning. CRT moves us away from approaching instruction with a deficit mindset — a focus on what we perceive a student cannot do or cannot manage. When we are culturally responsive, we identify students’ assets and use them to create rigorous, learning-centered environments — an explicitly asset-based approach.

Where to Start with Culturally Responsive Teaching

CRT is not a single strategy, lesson, activity, or assignment. Instead, it is a nuanced, purposeful approach that can be laced into every aspect of our teaching. We can think of CRT as a lens through which we can more clearly see our students. Here are two ways to begin infusing cultural responsiveness into your teaching:

  1. Heed Zaretta Hammond’s advice and start with relationship-building, as “relationships in the form of learning partnerships are the starting point of becoming culturally responsive as an educator;”
  2. Given the centrality of relevance to CRT, help students develop a positive attitude toward your course goals and content by asking them to craft personal goals in relation to a course lesson/module/assignment. Click on Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2 to expand the images and review additional strategies for each of the four areas of the motivational framework.

As part of our Equity-minded Practice Series, we will offer a course on CRT this term, so please stay tuned for the timing of this offering. In this course, we will unpack CRT, self-reflect on being a CRT practitioner, engage with resources to use in our learning environment, and apply cultural responsiveness when engaging with others.

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Be the Next Faculty Ombuds Representative

Thursday, January 28, 2021 

A Message from Ben Taylor, Assistant Director, Equal Opportunity

In collaboration with the Faculty Association, the Equal Opportunity team is soliciting interest for a faculty ombuds representative to support all faculty in navigating College policies and procedures and connecting faculty with available dispute resolution resources. The faculty ombuds representative serves in a collegewide capacity to support full-time and part-time faculty.

“Holding the role of faculty ombuds representative allowed me to grow at Valencia College by becoming well-versed in the College’s dispute resolution processes so I could answer questions for faculty and discuss their concerns,” shared Anna Saintil, who has served as the first faculty ombuds representative since fall 2018. “In each situation, I was able to serve as a navigator and connector of resources, as well as provide guidance to the process or policy that might apply.” Anna’s current term is set to expire at the end of spring 2021.

The faculty member selected will:

  • Be appointed for a one-year term (beginning in summer or fall 2021) with the option to reapply for an additional year;
  • Receive a three-credit course release per term which provides for seven hours per week to serve in this capacity;
  • Receive comprehensive onboarding and training on relevant topics during the selected representative’s first term in the faculty ombuds representative role; and
  • Serve as an advocate and guide for the dispute resolution process.

To be eligible for this role, you must be:

  • A full-time Valencia College faculty member, who has been employed at the College for at least two years;
  • Able to complete required training at the start of the first term in the role and ongoing meetings with an Equal Opportunity representative; and
  • Serve for at least one full academic year.

If you’re interested in applying, please review the roles and responsibilities and complete the following application. Applications must be submitted by Friday, February 12, 2021.

We look forward to continuing with this opportunity for the 2021 – 2022 academic year. For more information about this opportunity, please contact me at or 407-299-5000, extension 3454, or Lauren Kelly, director, equal opportunity at or 407-299-5000, extension 8125.