Featured Colleague — Michael Winters

michael-winters-fc-groveBy Joy S. Jones

“Every day that I come to work, I get to have meaningful conversations with people who are trying to improve the world, whether that is by getting an education, helping others get an education or working to affect positive change,” says Michael Winters.

Since 2011, Michael has been employed as a senior instructional assistant and is supervisor of the West Campus Writing Center. There, students receive learning support with writing assignments from all disciplines. Upon presenting a Valencia ID, the assignment given by the instructor and a copy of the work in progress, writing consultants help students with everything from grammar, punctuation and pronunciation to constructing research papers, essays and speeches, along with MLA and APA formats.

Michael manages a team of between 12 to 16 Writing Center consultants, researches trends and new technologies that may be beneficial to improving student learning in the centers and prepares training scripts, guides and manuals to assist students, staff and professors in using the ever-evolving writing lab.

For instance, he was part of the group who developed and evaluated content with Excelsior College to create the award-winning Excelsior College Online Writing Lab (OWL). Valencia was one of six institutions that studied the effect of using the OWL in a writing course. Since the OWL was made public, it has won a 2014 Distance Education Award from the National University Technology Network and WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies Outstanding Work (WOW) award.

“Mike has helped the Writing Center grow over the past few years. His expansion to the library with the Mobile Writing Center was inspiring,” says Elizabeth Renn, dean of communications, West Campus. “Now students can drop in for a consultation as well as make an appointment. Due in no small part to his continued dedication to writing instruction, students are succeeding at a greater rate for attending their writing consultations and are being retained at a higher rate. Mike and his team of writing professionals are having a significant impact on our students.”

In fact, under Mike’s leadership, from August 2013 to August of 2014, the Writing Center conducted 7,300 consultations covering 131 different classes.

In a survey given to students after completing a Writing Center consultation, of the more than 3,000 respondents, 99 percent said they would return to the Writing Center for help again. Through a study conducted by Institutional Research over the same time period, it was determined that students who used the Writing Center were successful in class (received an “A”, “B”, or “C” grade) 85.2 percent of the time. Students who didn’t use the Writing Center for the same courses were successful only 73.4 percent of the time. Comparing the same group of students and classes, 10.7 percent of the students who didn’t visit the Center withdrew from the course; conversely, the withdrawal rate of those who did go to the Writing Center was only 4.5 percent.

“I’m most proud of the staff in the Writing Center,” he says. “The knowledge, compassion and patience they demonstrate, while helping students learn, typifies what makes the Writing Center a great place.”

Michael also had a hand in providing a success workshop for the New Student Experience Boot Camp and in facilitating a journaling lesson for the LSAMP Summer STEM Institute where students participated in a diverse range of STEM exploration and college life skills activities.

Driven by a passion to serve, Michael has also been an associate faculty member since 2007 and teaches courses in speech, grammar, reading and English. Presenting lessons that incorporate real-world applications to serve non-native speakers adjusting to life in America is a challenge he reveres. Another plus — he loves the diversity among the students and staff!

Motivated by the level of commitment he witnesses in many of the students he encounters who often work several jobs while attending school, he is inspired by the tremendous stories about what brought them to Valencia.

“Since winning the inaugural Aspen Award, I believe Valencia signifies a success story that makes Orlando proud. We’re proving that Orlando is more than a tourist town, and coupled with UCF and the growing technology sector, we’re a part of a thriving intellectual and innovative community.”

Michael graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in University Center, Michigan, where he completed a double major and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and in communication.

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 so he or he can be one of our featured colleagues.

5 Comments

  • Donna Deitrick said:

    Michael how inspiring! It was a pleasure to work with you when I was CSA Chairperson and it is great to see your dedication is far reaching. Thanks for your work at Valencia!

    AMWed, 10 Dec 2014 07:34:24 +0000Wed, 10 Dec 2014 07:34:24 +0000am14,7:34 am

  • Debbi Hodges said:

    Michael is also a great boss! Great article, Mike!

    PMWed, 10 Dec 2014 20:40:58 +0000Wed, 10 Dec 2014 20:40:58 +0000pm14,8:40 pm

  • Karen Cowden said:

    Mike is a wonderful support to our students, and he partners with our community and colleges to make learning more innovative!

    AMThu, 11 Dec 2014 05:42:40 +0000Thu, 11 Dec 2014 05:42:40 +0000am14,5:42 am

  • Scott Bokash said:

    Mike always strives for continuous improvement, exemplifying Valencia’s learning-centered and innovative ideals. My first exposure to the Valencia culture I love so much was teaching in the writing center.

    PMThu, 11 Dec 2014 13:21:10 +0000Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:21:10 +0000pm14,1:21 pm

  • Maria Raquel said:

    I am proud to be part of a thriving intellectual and innovative community institution. Well done Mike!

    PMTue, 27 Jan 2015 15:41:36 +0000Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:41:36 +0000pm15,3:41 pm

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