Thursday, April 13, 2021
By Claudia Zequeira
Chris Teumer’s educational journey began as a business major at Colorado State University in his home state of Colorado. But after one semester, the timing and major did not seem right for him.
After taking a break from school to work and explore other interests, which included taking a job as a line cook, Chris, assistant director, learning support and advising, developed an interest in the culinary arts and found his way to Orlando and to Valencia College, where he pursued an Associate in Science in culinary management.
His connection with the College was thus born. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in restaurant management at the University of Central Florida’s College of Hospitality Management, Chris finally made a career move that took him to higher education, beginning with a position as a testing center specialist at the East Campus.
“After 12 years working in the hospitality industry, my transition to higher education took place with Valencia in 2012. The decision to make a career shift was difficult for me at the time and required a leap of faith, but it ultimately paid off and I haven’t looked back since,” he said.
Chris would later become a career program advisor for the business and criminal justice program at Valencia, making the leap into his current role in 2016. The position was funded by the East Campus Title V Grant, which sought to strengthen academic advising and enhance transferring opportunities for students.
His current role is one he cherishes, in part because it is one where he is able to apply many of his coaching and problem-solving skills.
In his day-to-day, Chris manages a talented team within the East Campus Learning Support Center (LSC) that provides tutoring, coaching and course testing services to students for numerous subject areas.
Like many of his colleagues, Chris saw his role reshaped after COVID-19 caused our campuses to close.
“With Learning Support unifying across the College this past year to launch our collegewide distance tutoring platform, I have had the opportunity to expand my role and join other learning support managers in providing oversight for approximately 300 staff, including area supervisors, tutors, the technology support team and additional team members, as they continue to support our students virtually,” said Chris.
“Our responsibilities in this effort, including my own, are ever shifting to meet the needs and challenges of our students, faculty and staff,” he added. “On any given day, I could be marketing our distance tutoring services, leading collegewide meetings, troubleshooting technology challenges, helping to move new pilot programs forward or facilitating a training with our team.”
At Valencia, Chris is most proud of having received the Joyce Romano Partnership Excellence Award for work he did to develop the SLS 1122 Transitions course, created under the East Campus Title V grant and meant to support transfer success. The course was the product of a collaboration between Valencia and the University of Central Florida.
He was also part of the team selected for the Association of Florida Colleges Learning Resource Center Exemplary Practice Award in recognition of his work with Continuous Assessment and Responsive Engagement (CARE), which established early alert guidelines to help struggling students.
Chris also led an effort in bringing Valencia’s tutoring services online as a response to COVID-19.
“This was perhaps the greatest challenge I have faced in my career, and in turn, the most rewarding,” he said. “I’m part of an amazing team of leaders and learning support staff who, over the past year, have continued to shape and improve our online tutoring platform to ensure Valencia students have the support they need to succeed in their courses.”
His supervisor, Leonard Bass, dean, learning support, referred to Chris as “the epitome of a professional.”
“He serves the LSC team with integrity and deft leadership. His work and initiatives are always well researched, timely and innovative. I often hear praise for his work whenever he leads a project and have seen him earn a reputation for excellence. He is simply a joy to work with,” said Leonard.
Chris said Valencia’s culture of innovation and the many opportunities offered for professional development helped make all his work possible; another plus about working at Valencia.
“We have never been one to settle on our laurels, and as a learning-centered institution, there is a wealth of opportunities available for engagement and professional development at the College,” he said.
Recently, Chris earned a master’s degree in student affairs and higher education at his alma mater, Colorado State University (the program was online). Some of his courses were paid for by Valencia’s Employee Development Funds, a stipend given employees on a yearly basis for professional development.
Valencia is also a place where he finds inspiration.
“Working on the front lines as an academic and career program advisor from 2012 to 2016, many students shared their stories of struggle and triumph with me,” he said. “In my current role, I get to see the overwhelmingly positive comments our students share about their experience with Valencia’s tutors, coaches and support staff. It’s these stories, and the opportunities we have to help someone on their journey, that inspire me most.”
The College, he added, is a place of opportunity for many, which is something he values.
“With the number of degree programs, certificates, training opportunities and community programming, there is an opportunity for everyone at Valencia, no matter where one is at in their professional, educational or personal journey,” he said.
When he’s not busy helping his team or our students, Chris enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, working out, landscaping and completing home projects.
He also enjoys sports.
“I love watching my beloved Denver Broncos, win or lose,” he said.
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 The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.