By Wendy Jo Moyer
John Cotton Dana, an American librarian and museum director, penned the now-famous quote, “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” And it’s the role of Shara Lee to encourage Valencia’s faculty members to “never cease to learn.”
After beginning her Valencia journey with the faculty development team at the Winter Park Campus, Shara was honored to be selected as the first campus director for faculty and instructional development supporting the Osceola and Lake Nona Campuses.
In this role, she leads the Faculty and Instructional Development teams in both Osceola and Lake Nona Centers for Teaching/Learning Innovation, a place where faculty learning, collaboration, innovation and scholarship contribute to the greater success of our faculty, and therefore our students and community. As part of that role, she supports faculty members as they expand their professional practices and examine their ongoing development in the Seven Essential Competencies of a Valencia Educator, and she creates development offerings that align with the College’s strategic initiatives.
Shara also had the opportunity to be a facilitator of the PIVOT 180 leadership development program and has participated in the new creative thinking certification called “Prototype: An Exploration of Collaboration by Design,” which is a pilot curriculum focused on exploring the theory and practice of collaboration, design thinking and creative problem solving.
“Shara is an inspiring leader at Valencia, and I feel lucky to have her leading our Osceola and Lake Nona Centers for Teaching/Learning Innovation,” said Wendi Dew, assistant vice president, teaching and learning, and Shara’s supervisor. “She always approaches faculty and instructional development with energy, creativity and dedication.”
Shara’s feeling is mutual. “My supervisor, Wendi Dew is an incredible role model for the kind of professional I strive to be — passionate about both process and outcome, genuinely interested in incorporating feedback and valuing people before all else,” Shara praised.
Just recently, Shara shared her expertise in an article she co-wrote with Jenny Charriez, “Community College Leadership Development: A Recipe for Institutional Success,” which was published in the Ferris State University publication, “Perspectives,” in October 2015. The article highlights the role of leadership development in an organization’s culture. To view the article, click here.
Shara’s dedication and passion shows through in every project that she undertakes, explained Jenny Charriez, director, employee development. “There are no limits in her willingness or ability; I continue to be impressed and inspired by her courage to participate and lead programs like PIVOT 180 and curriculum projects for faculty and staff at the College. She is an amazing thought partner to have in any project we undertake at Valencia.”
Shara’s favorite part about working at Valencia is the culture. “We are united in our dedication to providing access to higher education and are tireless in standing up for this core value,” she said. “I am continually impressed by how well we honor our principles through the daily decisions we make.”
According to Shara, there is a difference between access to higher education and the opportunity that arises from it. “Valencia signifies access through disperse campus locations, variety in educational modality and overall cost. What the community is increasingly able to recognize is that a Valencia education also means opportunity,” she said. “This opportunity comes in forms such as bachelor’s degrees through DirectConnect, mind-expanding general studies curricula and higher-wage jobs through trade skill development.”
Shara has a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Business Administration from Stetson University and a Doctor of Education from the University of Central Florida. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Osceola community-based non-profit Park Place Behavioral Health. In her free time she likes to ride her motorcycle and play violin.
“I am so very proud to be a member of the Valencia family,” Shara concluded.
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.