Monthly Archives: February 2021

PJI JOURNAL Spring/Summer 2021: Teacher Agency Begins with the Heart

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

By Jenni Sanguiliano Lonski

Teachers have the unique opportunity to shape a generation, to instill knowledge and values, and impact the future. Education is often considered to be the great equalizer, where students are taught and assessed on the same curriculum and standards. But what happens when the standards are not enough, or leave out entire groups of people? How do teachers ensure that every student feels that they are valued and important? I began my journey into public education nine years ago as a middle school world history teacher. As a first-year teacher, I remember sticking to the state standards; after all, I had eight civilizations and 4,000 years of history to cover and the standards were the backbone of the district end of year test. After that year I started to wonder about the information that was not being included in the standards. What voices and histories were absent from the curriculum? How does this affect the students, and what was I, as a teacher, able to do?

After four years in the classroom, and four more years working as a graduate research assistant in gifted education equity research, I decided to devote my UCF Ph.D. dissertation to answering these questions.

I started with looking at previous research into missing voices in the curriculum. In a study of history standards in nine states in 2008, Journell found that only two of the states included Harriet Tubman, and three of the states listed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the only influence within the Civil Rights standards. One state completely neglected to recognize Dr. King in their US History curriculum. In Florida, Latinx, a person of Latin American origin or descent, individuals make up 26% of the state population, but are only represented in 68 of the 1,186 social science standards for K-12 education (.05% of the standards, Davis, 2018). In Texas there are only six references to Hispanic/Latinx Americans and no mention of Asian Americans or Native Americans as important historical figures in contemporary American History standards (Heilig, Brown, & Brown, 2012). The list went on, and included the absence of voices of people of color in language arts, math, science, and the arts. These standards not only failed to acknowledge the importance and achievements of individuals of color, but created an incomplete view of the diverse world.

After discovering the significant issue of missing voices in curriculum standards, I began to research how the state curriculum influenced the day to day classroom. Unfortunately, the state standards often translate directly to the daily lessons. Like my first year in the classroom, many teachers rely on the standards to determine what happens in the classroom. The Center for Education 2016 survey, for example, indicated that out of the more than 3,000 public school teachers studied, 78% of math teachers and 68% of English/Language Arts teachers reported receiving curriculum directly from their district that complied with state mandates. In Mississippi, a study of 107 teachers reported that 96% of them felt that student achievement of test scores had the greatest influence on their daily teaching (Volger, 2005). If the information is not on the test or in the standards, it is left out of the classroom.

While identifying issues with the curriculum and state standards is relatively easy, it is far more difficult to address the problem. Research has suggested that students who feel connected to the curriculum had a higher sense of achievement and academic potential, greater feelings of confidence and motivation, and an increase in school and civic engagement (Chun & Dickson, 2011, Hubert 2013, Kahne & Sporte, 2008). Changing the curriculum, however, is not enough. Teachers need to feel capable and empowered to teach such a curriculum and comfortable supplementing the inadequate state standards. When teachers have a high sense of agency, meaning that they feel that they can enact change in their classroom, they feel empowered to supplement the curriculum with information that meets the needs of their students. This suggests that if teacher education focused first on increasing feelings of teacher agency and then on developing an inclusive curriculum, classrooms could become more equitable for all.

Fortunately, there is a program in Central Florida that provides this form of professional development. The Peace and Justice Institute Teachers Academy develops inclusive and socially just pedagogical practices. This innovative professional development for educators, the PJI Teachers Academy, disrupts the traditional approach to teacher development by beginning with the heart of the teacher and an in-depth analysis of personal beliefs, biases, and privilege, before addressing curricular concerns, inclusive and social justice education, and trauma sensitive and restorative practices, including mindfulness.

The final step of my research included interviewing 13 Teachers Academy alumni about their experience with the Academy, their classrooms, and their professional practice. Nearly every teacher described feeling more confident in supplementing and reimagining their curriculum, rethinking classroom management, and transforming daily lessons to meet the needs of their students. Ms. Adria credited Teachers Academy with changing her classroom and her professional practice, “I know I am a better listener; I have more patience with the students and staff. I just feel like I can ‘deal’ with situations better…I have the tools to do it.”

The teachers also discussed changes to their curriculum. Ms. Stella explained, “I would start 11th grade American literature with John Smith and the settlers coming in, and then after going to Teachers Academy, I realized, no, I have to start with Native Americans. I have to get their voices heard first.” Others, like chorus teacher Ms. Bea, talked about the importance of incorporating student background into the course material:

We talked about some of the big ones that they need to know, Beethoven and Mozart, but especially as we moved into modern music, we talked a lot about those important Black, African American, and Latin American influencers in music so that they could see themselves in it.

Middle school science teacher Mrs. Iman, who spoke multiple languages, would engage her immigrant students in their home language. Dr. Turtle, a high school Spanish teacher, had a map on her wall that highlighted countries where her students were born. These techniques stem from the strategy Windows and Mirrors Style (1988) which is discussed during Teachers Academy sessions. The goal of Windows and Mirrors is to ensure that the curriculum provides a window into other cultures and reflects the experience of the students. This ensures that all students feel that their voices, and the voices of people who look and sound like them, matter. Ms. Supreme explained the impact of this strategy in her classroom:

The most impactful strategy for me was the ‘Windows and Mirrors’ because it helped me to see that even though my students are learning … Just making those connections with my students has made a complete difference between what I saw my students accomplish this year and what they were able to accomplish the previous year. Last year was my first year in world history, I literally felt like I was just talking at them. I was talking at them and they were writing down notes. But this year it felt like they were actually able to make some connections, and they were able to express themselves a lot more because they felt more connected to the content.

This changed the classroom dynamic as each teacher noted that their classrooms grew to resemble a family more than a group of disconnected students. Their students were more engaged, had higher rates of participation in class activities, and an overall improved relationship with their peers and teachers. Finally, the Academy reminded them why they were in the classroom and reignited their passion for teaching and working with students.

Jenni Sanguiliano Lonski is a former middle school teacher and has worked to combine her research with practical classroom experience. She has presented at multiple conferences, and has research interests in education equity, teacher professional development, gifted education, and social reproduction theory in education.


Center for Education Policy, 2016 National Teacher Survey. (2016). Listen to Us: Teacher Views and Voices Tables and Figures. Retrieved from:

Chun, H., & Dickson, G. (2011). A psychological model of academic performance among Hispanic adolescents. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 40, 1571-1594. doi: 10.1007/s10964-011-9640-z

Hellig, J., Brown, A., & Brown, K. (2012). The illusion of inclusion: A critical race theory textual analysis of race and standards. Harvard Educational Review, 82(3), 403-424. doi: 10.17763/haer.82.3.84p8228670j24650

Hubert, T. L. (2014). Learners of mathematics: High school students’ perspectives of culturally relevant mathematics pedagogy. Journal of African American Studies, 18, 324-336. doi:10.1007/s12111-013-9273-2

Journell, W. (2008). When oppression and liberation are the only choices: The representation of African Americans within state social studies standards. Journal of Social Studies Research, 32(1), 40-50.

Kahne, J., & Sporte, S. (2008). Developing citizens: The impact of civic learning opportunities on students’ commitment to civic participation. American Educational Research Journal, 45(3), 738-766. doi:10.3102/0002831208316951

Styles, E. (1996). Curriculum as Windows and Mirrors. Social Science Record. Retrieved from:

Vogler, K. (2005). Impact of a high school graduation examination on social studies teachers’ instructional practices. Journal of Social Studies Research, 29(2), 19-33.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Valencians Learn Change Can Be an Opportunity for Growth During Learning Day

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 

Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is. — Seth Godin

Change. We experience it all of the time, but over the past year, none of us have escaped it. It was even apparent during Learning Day on Friday, February 12, 2021 — our first Learning Day ever to be held virtually due to COVID-19 and the resulting closure of Valencia College’s campuses. So it was only appropriate for the event’s theme to be change.

Keynote Manu Shahi — an educator, business owner, author and the founder of Homework in a Cafe — shared her touching story about an abrupt change that affected her everyday living and how she approached that change in her presentation “The Four Stages of Change: Using Your Past Experiences With Change as a Field Guide to Help You Navigate Through Your Upcoming Transition.”

Almost 20 years ago, Manu’s world was turned upside down when her young daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Though incredibly difficult, this experience inspired Manu to choose change as an opportunity for growth.

“We all live in a very comfortable cocoon in our lives that we have created ourselves to stay comfortable, and, as a result, we don’t like change,” Manu explained. “We resist change but sometimes things that we cannot change end up changing us.”

She inspired us to think about the right equation between our inside change and outside change, especially during an unexpected change — what she calls a life quake — as those are the most impactful on our lives.

Manu explained that there are more than 52 different types of changes that can be separated into five categories: work, identity, belief system, love and body. And when we experience a change, we each go through four stages:

1. Denial ― This is the “Why me?” stage that often turns to anger. Eventually, we turn to bargaining through activities such as research, meditation and prayer.

2. Acceptance  Usually the longest and messiest stage, we begin to accept the situation and make space for self-realization. We start to change our mindset from the negative to finding a solution or purpose.

3. Maintenance ― In this stage, we find our purpose for getting up in the morning and develop new rituals to help cope with the change. For some, this stage features gaining control, and for other’s it’s belonging or living for a cause.

4. Zen ― And finally, when our inside and outside achieve balance, we enter the Zen stage. This is when we form a new identity based on how we accept the change.

“Think of the stage you are in right now,” Manu concluded. “Find the purpose that gives you hope. It will take you from one stage to another and another until you find peace within.”

Prior to Manu’s keynote, during his Learning Day welcome, College President Sandy Shugart alluded to the change we’ve all experienced at Valencia College this past year, yet through this change, we’ve learned these top 10 things:

10. We learned about our collective resilience.

9. Sometimes crisis is an opportunity.

8. We can do some face-to-face classes safely with the right protocols in place.

7. Start Right is still right.

6. Equity has come to our mission.

5. Our mission and our community are more essential than ever.

4. It’s personal.

3. Learning is still first.

2. There’s no number two.

1. We’re never really lost.

Change was even a topic in the more than 90 learning sessions offered throughout the day such as “What Valencia Can Learn from Hollywood,” where Multimedia Producer Scott Smith presented what Valencia College can learn about embracing change from an industry that has had its share of ups and downs in the past 100-plus years, and special Adaptability and Change Roundtables with Assistant Directors of Organizational Development and Human Resources Rose Quiles, Chanda Postell and Melanie Rodriguez.

As we’ve experienced a change from in-person to remote work, many of our internal experts guided us by demonstrating technology uses, such as Professors of Computer Programming and Analysis Mahendra Gossai and Ian O’Toole, who showed us how to use Microsoft Teams; and Interim Dean of the School of Arts and Entertainment Rob McCaffrey, who gave us a tour of Google Docs.

We also experienced learning sessions on some of our most top-of-mind changes — COVID-19 and our campus closures — such as those of Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources Amy Bosley and Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Maintenance Operations Shaun Andrews, who discussed Phase 3 operations in Roadmap for Reopening Town Halls. Another learning session featured Professor of EMS Bryan Spangler and Organizational Development Human Resources Analyst and COVID Case Manager Tanya Mahan, who presented on COVID-19 vaccinations.

View a Learning Day slideshow below.

Please, don’t forget to fill out the Learning Day Survey to provide feedback on the event. We will share survey findings in March.

Those who missed the event and would like to view the Welcome message and Keynote session, can do so here.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

PJI to Join 2021 NCAA Women’s Final Four Special: Beyond the Baseline Series Virtual Event

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Time: 12 p.m.
Location. Online. Register here.

The Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) will be a part of the Beyond the Baseline Series virtual event hosted by the San Antonio Local Organizing Committee (SALOC) for the 2021 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

PJI will provide an immersive session that will explore how the Principles For How We Treat Each Other have helped to build one of the best organizational cultures in the United States, as recognized by the Aspen Institute and the United Nations.

The session will be led by Rachel Allen, director, PJI; Stanton Reed, professor, business and accounting; and former Faculty Association president; and Stacey Johnson, past president of the Valencia and Winter Park Campuses.

Participants will actively learn the unfolding story of building PJI at Valencia College in Orlando and the greater Central Florida Region. They will also learn the PJI belief that creating strong principles of peace within an organization helps build human capacity by creating and supporting a deep culture of caring and respect for employees’ lives, work and learning.

For the best experience, this session is limited to 100 participants. To reserve a spot, please register here. Please note that the event is limited to the first 100 registrants.

The San Antonio Beyond the Baseline broadcast series is a catalyst for building strong, inspired and engaged girls in our community through the power of sport. In partnership with the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas and with donations received through this program, SALOC is developing Women’s Final Four programing that will provide education and training for Girl Scouts to discover, connect and participate in activities to teach them about the power of sports, leadership and team work.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Featured Colleague: Kris Stevens: A Dance Injury Brought Her Here. A Sense of Purpose Made Her Stay

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

By Claudia Zequeira

She always wanted to be professional dancer, but when a dance injury sidelined her, Kristina (Kris) Stevens, part-time faculty, dance, returned to school. And that school turned out to be Valencia College, where Kris is now a pivotal part of managing the Dance department.

At Valencia, where she started working in 2004, Kris also serves as dance performance production coordinator, in which she helps produce concerts for the dancers.

“I’m in charge of most of the administrative tasks that go with the Dance department,” said Kris, who also teaches ballet here.

“We basically run a dance company out of the Dance department in the sense that we have a touring group of students, and they go all over the country, so it’s my job to help organize that, including arranging contracts and airline tickets and many other things.”

Although dance majors returned to in-person rehearsals in spring 2021, much of Kris’ job these days takes place on Zoom, as many productions and special programs were halted due to the pandemic.

But that has not stopped her efforts and creativity.

“I enjoy being able to organize projects and help bring them to life,” said Kris. “I love to be able to take somebody else’s vision and make it actually happen from a logistical and administrative perspective.”

To that end, and with the help of Digital Media Professor Howard Tate and others, Kris organized the digitally broadcast Choreographer’s Showcase last November. Now in its 22nd year, the event is designed to showcase student choreography and serve as a creative outlet for their work.

Kris is currently conducting a similar effort for Valencia’s Spring Dance Concert, which was canceled last year due to COVID. The concert will be recorded in Valencia’s Black Box Theater and then broadcast digitally in April 2021.

And since dance students missed out on the opportunity to attend an American College Dance Association event last year (where they typically both learn and present work), Kris is working to invite former guest artists to present master classes to students virtually.

“We’re going to use the money that we would have used [to attend the American College Dance Association] and we’re going to bring in guest artists virtually so the students can have a Zoom master class from these artists,” she said.

Recently, Kris arranged for choreographer Jon Lehrer, of the Jon Lehrer Dance Company, to teach students online.

“We were able to bring him in for residency virtually this January,” said Kris. “We were hoping to have him in person, but of course we couldn’t, so the dancers learned a piece by him that they’ll be performing for the Spring Dance Concert.”

Kris earned an Associate in Arts as well as an Associate in Science in Business Administration from Valencia. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Rollins College.

Before joining Valencia, she danced professionally with The Georgia Ballet in Marietta, Georgia, under the artistic direction of Iris Hensley, and received additional training from Janusz Mazon and Gina Hyatt-Mazon.

Kris also previously performed at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland, and attended summer programs at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Joffrey Workshop in San Antonio, and CalArts. She also earned a partial scholarship to attend the Joffrey Ballet School in New York.

Along the way, she fell in love with teaching (Kris also teaches dance at Rollins College). But she also fell in love with Valencia, a place where she has found both an opportunity to grow and the support of colleagues and College leaders alike.

“I am trusted to do my job to the best of my ability, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” she said. “And I am supported in the fact that I have a family,” she said. “I feel that my hard work is rewarded.”

Her frequent demonstrations of hard and efficient work have even earned her the nickname “The Kris.”

“It’s a running joke around here that if you need something, you need to go ask ‘The Kris’ because I will get it done,” she said. “Everybody needs a ‘Kris.’”

Her supervisor, Suzanne Salapa, professor, dance, and Dance department chair, said Kris is “the glue of the department and an invaluable employee.”

“As an alumni of our dance major program, she understands the artist point of view,” said Suzanne. “She is an exceptional production coordinator of all of our on-campus and off-campus productions. She is the best!”

Rob McCaffrey, interim dean, School of Arts and Entertainment, referred to Kris as the “backbone” of our dance seasons at Valencia.

“I’m constantly impressed by her technical prowess and ability to coordinate our rehearsal and performance schedules,” he said.

Besides counting her colleagues’ support as a key factor in her decision to remain at the College, Kris said she also enjoys being here because she is in sync with its mission of providing affordable opportunities to students. In addition, she enjoys Valencia’s strong community ties.

“As dancers, we go and perform at so many schools locally. We also host the Summer Dance Institute program, which is a great, affordable opportunity for high school students interested in dance. There is just so much that we do with the community. I love that.”

Kris is also inspired by her students, many of whom go on to succeed in their careers and often return as alumni to give back some of the support they themselves received.

In her free time, Kris loves to read and spend time with her family and her children. She also manages to find time to teach at a local studio, which her children also attend.

“I still teach at a local dance studio,” she said. “So, yes, I have three jobs aside from being a mom.”

Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

It’s Time for Our Annual SREF Inspection

Monday, February 15, 2021 

A Message from Vicky Mayle, Compliance, Inspector, Senior

Every year, Valencia College is required to have a State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF) inspection. This year it is scheduled for Monday, February 22 through Wednesday, February 24, 2021.

For the past four years, Valencia College, which encompasses more than 2,500,000 square feet, has had ZERO violations during the annual inspection. This is due to the dedication and hard work of every person and department at Valencia College.

Even though many of you have not been back full time at your offices and facilities due to COVID-19, we trust that everyone will be in compliance. The Compliance and Safety, Security and Plant Operations departments have been very busy maintaining and operating Valencia facilities during COVID-19.

The State of Florida requires all public schools and colleges to have an annual fire safety, casualty safety and sanitation inspection once a year, to ensure the health and safety of occupants. Codes that we are required to follow are per Florida Statutes 1013, SREF, the Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC), and Florida Administrative Code 69A-58. These codes are minimum requirements to ensure safety. Our main goal is to provide the best educational experience for our students as well as to provide a safe environment for all.

All campuses will be inspected during the annual SREF comprehensive inspection.

If you’re on campus, click on the checklist below to prepare for the inspection.

Please contact the Compliance and Safety Department if you have any questions concerning the inspection at

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Network Maintenance Rescheduled for Evening of February 23

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Message from Patti Smith, Chief Information Officer

Valencia College’s previously planned network outage has been rescheduled for Tuesday, February 23 at 10 p.m. through Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at 4 a.m. During this time period, the network will be unavailable as Office of Information Technology (OIT) employees conduct maintenance that will improve the resiliency and security of our network. The following services will be unavailable:

  • Valencia College website
  • Atlas
  • Banner
  • Skype for Business (includes phones, video calls and IM)
  • VPN connectivity
  • *Student Access to Canvas
  • *Student Access to Office 365 and Email

*Faculty and staff will have access to email, Office 365 and Canvas; however, due to the differences in how our students, faculty and staff authenticate (on Valencia’s servers vs. the cloud), STUDENTS WILL NOT HAVE ACCESS TO OFFICE 365, EMAIL OR CANVAS. 

As long as employees are working off campus or off our network (cell/data service on mobile device), they will continue to have access to these services.

Faculty will not be able to submit a withdraw for no-show during this outage. 

Employees may access Canvas directly here. For details on how employees may access Office 365, click here.

Students will be notified of this outage via Atlas email on Thursday, February 18, 2021; however, please consider providing leniency for assignments.

If you have questions about this email or require assistance, please contact the OIT Service Desk at You may also submit a service request through the OIT online portal.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Don’t Miss the VAHC Family Reunion 2021 Event

Date: Friday, February 26, 2021
Time: 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Get ready for an evening of quarantine-style fun as the Valencia African Heritage Committee (VAHC) closes the celebration of Black History Month 2021, but not the celebration of Black History (#BHM365), with the VAHC Family Reunion 2021. Come join the VAHC on Friday, February 26, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. to celebrate our family.

The evening will be filled with music, fun and new insights into what it means to be a Black family. Enjoy the music and poetry and share in the experience of our colleagues as you test your Black history knowledge for a chance at winning prizes.

VAHC will continue its partnership with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) by incorporating its theme for Black History Month, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” into the evening’s event. The VAHC is celebrating the diverse nature of family groups by drawing attention to the relationships that can be formed by having an affiliation with different groups and organizations. To learn more about ASALH’s Black History theme, visit its website.

Valencia College employees and students are invited.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

The Valencia EDGE Will Be Down

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Valencia EDGE will undergo updates from 8:30 p.m. on Friday, February 19, 2021, through 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 20, 2021, and will be unavailable for use during this time.

As part of a continuous improvement cycle, we work directly with the vendor to ensure improvement to the system and develop new features and options for our employees.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause, and we hope you enjoy your weekend.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Form 1095-C Will Be Arriving in the Mail Soon

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 

In February 2021, all full-time and some part-time employees will receive a 1095-C, which is a form that contains important information about your healthcare coverage provided by Valencia College. The form details any employer-based health insurance coverage you had in 2020 and acts as your proof of insurance for the IRS.

Your 1095-C for the 2020 tax year is required to be mailed and postmarked by Tuesday, March 2, 2021. Delivery date to your home is dependent on the local mail carrier after it has been sent. You do not need this form to file your taxes. Please keep this form with your tax records.

There are three parts to the 1095-C form:

  • Part 1 reports information about you and your employer.
  • Part 2 reports information about the coverage offered to you by your employer, the affordability of the coverage offered and the reason why you were or were not offered coverage.
  • Part 3 reports information about the individuals covered under your plan, including dependents.

To see an example of what the form looks like, please click here.

If you were enrolled in Valencia’s healthcare coverage, were a part-time ACA-eligible employee as designated by Valencia or were considered a full-time employee at any time in 2020, then you will receive a 1095-C. If you were part time per ACA guidelines (you worked under 30 hours per week), you will not receive a 1095-C.

For questions about the 1095-C, click here for FAQs.

If you have additional questions about your 1095-C or if you believe you should receive a 1095-C from Valencia but do not, please contact please email or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748). You may also visit or to learn more.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Addition Financial Has a New Resource — ‘The Advisor’

Monday, February 15, 2021  

Valencia College’s preferred credit union Addition Financial has a new monthly newsletter — The Advisor — which is a guide to credit union membership.

Just like our advisors help students plan a course of study, this curated monthly email will help you navigate all the events, resources and promotions Addition Financial has lined up such as financial tips, webinars and podcasts, as well as member promotions.

To learn more and to subscribe to the newsletter, click here. 

And remember, as a Valencia College employee, you’ll automatically receive $100* when you open a checking or savings account with Addition Financial. Click here to open an account.

For questions, contact Richard Barbari, Addition Financial’s relationship manager, at (407) 896-9411, extension 2333, or