July 2014 Kudos

Valencia Professors Among Top Three Finalists for AFC Technology Commission Excellence in Technology Awards


Tanya Bizon, Professor of English as a Second Language

faculty-insight-news-idCongratulations to Tanya Bizon, professor of English as a Second Language, East Campus, and Neal Phillips, professor of English, West Campus, who have been selected among the top three finalists for the 2014 Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) Technology Commission Excellence in Technology Awards.

Tanya, who was also named a finalist for AFC Professor of the Year in 2013, was cited for her innovative use of the green screen in the classroom for her project, Teaching in Different Worlds with Green Screen.

“My students get involved in a movie-making project that involves green screen technology, a process that removes a green screen to display another background image. It’s a co-curricular activity to make movies based on the books assigned in class.”

Movie making is an example of universal design learning, Tanya explains, and it’s where students can find a variety of activities that suit their learning styles, interests and strengths.

“Using green screen technology, writing a script, creating dialogue, finding music, choosing digital backgrounds, taking pictures and finding costumes and make-up are all a part of the learning dynamics.


Neal Phillips, Professor of English

“One of the most surprising aspects of this work has been that I can step out of the spotlight and let them shine. Instead of me teaching them English, they take the first initiative to practice pronunciation, learn new vocabulary and use the correct grammar. The process of motivation to learn the language has flipped. They are intrinsically motivated and actively engaged in the process of learning English.”

Neal was acknowledged for his innovative methods for creating collaboration in online environments in Virtual Groups: Working Together without Actually Meeting!

“With the advent of social media, students in online courses seek the versatility and human interest that Facebook has, and they gravitate toward online courses to escape face-to-face classroom pressures,” Neal says. “In addition, international students see online learning as a way to increase communication and acquire language proficiency.”

Neal’s session features ideas for creating collaboration in an online environment that not only focuses on course objectives, but enhances students’ collaborations with peers here and abroad.

Both will compete for a chance to win first ($500), second ($300) or third ($200) place at the 65th Annual AFC Convention held Wednesday, October 29 through Friday, October 31, 2014.

James May, professor, ESL, East Campus, is currently serving as the AFC technology commission chair this year and will coordinate the work.

Click here to learn more about the Association of Florida Colleges.

Three Valencians Make Orlando Magazine’s 2014 “Most Powerful” List

fifty-powerful-people-banner-groveOrlando Magazine editor Barry Glenn writes of those who appear on the 50 Most Powerful People List:

orlando-mag-powerful-people-cover-270w“Yes, our social and political landscape is constantly shifting, with people gaining and losing (or retiring from) positions of power. But while they hold that clout, they are capable of changing the face of our area in profound ways, whether they are politicians, business leaders or community activists.”

Sandy-Shugart-270wOur very own Valencia College President Sandy Shugart holds the number 22 spot and was cited for “presiding over one of the best state colleges in the country and being a prolific author and sought after speaker for engagements across the country.”

Valencia alums Andy Gardiner, Florida State Senator, chairman of the senate appropriations subcommittee on transportation, tourism and economic development and vice president for external affairs and community relations at Orlando Health, and Dick Batchelor, business and political consultant and social advocate were listed as the 15th and 43rd most powerful, respectively.

To read the entire feature and more, download the digital edition on Magzter or pick up a copy at your local newsstand.

Keith Houck Presented Florida College System Ken Jarrett Service Award

award-keith-houck-groveCongratulations to Keith Houck, vice president of operations and finance, who was presented with the highest service award given to college business officers in the Florida College System, the Ken Jarrett Service Award.

The award was presented in Fort Lauderdale at the end of May 2014, at the Council of Business Affairs meeting. The distinguishing criteria for the award include demonstrated leadership in the Florida College System and in related organizations, in addition to exemplary service above and beyond the call of duty.

Keith was presented the award by Anita Kovacs, controller, South Florida State College, who praised Keith’s service on national boards, Community College Business Officers (CCBO) and Southern Association of College and University Business Officers (SACUBO); and for initiating the Energy Saving and Sustainability program that saves the College $2 million per year, staying in touch with students by teaching student success courses and being an active and engaged member of the community.

Among his community engagement activities, Keith held roles as the chair of the board of directors for The Foundation for Orange County Public Schools, the Orange County COMPACT, the Downtown Regional Council, Florida Children’s Campaign, Leadership Florida Institute and Florida Chamber of Commerce Management Corporation.

Moreover, Keith was the founding chairman and continues to serve on the board of A Gift for Teaching, which has given away more than $75 million in school supplies and materials to teachers and students in the tri-county area during the 15 years it has been in existence. He is currently serving on the Mayor of Orlando’s Green Works Advisory Committee.

“Most everything that I am credited for accomplishing in my career is a result of the work of others, and I have been only a minor contributor,” he concedes.

The award includes a personalized plaque, and Keith’s name will be added to the plaque with other Ken Jarrett Award recipients, which resides in the division office in Tallahassee. Also, a $1,000 scholarship award will be established in his name with the Valencia Foundation.

Valencia Students Achieve High Scores on National Latin Exam

national-latin-exam-medal-cc3-groveSix students enrolled in humanities professor, Jennifer Taylor’s, Elementary Latin II course took the National Latin Exam (NLE) in March 2014.

“This is the first year that I have had my students take the National Latin Exam, and I was thrilled by how well they all did,” says Jennifer.

The 40-question test has an average national score of 25.

Valencia students Carolyn “Auggie” Della-Melva earned a “gold” summa cum laude on the exam, answering 36 of the 40 questions correctly, and Malyssa Taczli earned a cum laude on the exam, with 27 questions answered correctly.

The basic purposes of the NLE are to advance the study of Latin and to encourage the individual student. The exam, sponsored by the American Classical League and the National Junior Classical League, is a 40-question, multiple-choice test with a time limit of 45 minutes, offered to students on seven levels. There are questions on grammar, comprehension, mythology, derivatives, literature, Roman life, history, geography, oral Latin and Latin in use in the modern world.

Nearly 150,000 students from 49 states and 17 foreign countries took the exam.

Ruth Ridore and Janet McKee Demonstrate Expertise in HR Field by Earning PHR Certification

ruth-ridore-270wCongratulations to Ruth Ridore, campus director, organizational development and human resources, East and Winter Park campuses and CJI, and Janet McKee, coordinator, total rewards, who have earned their Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification in May and June 2014, respectively.

The PHR certification demonstrates mastery of the technical and operational aspects of HR practices and U.S. laws and regulations. The credential is for the HR professional who focuses on program implementation, has a tactical/logistical orientation, is accountable to another HR professional within the organization and has responsibilities that focus on the HR department rather than the whole organization.

janet-mckee-270wTo become certified, participants must have a minimum of one year HR experience with a master’s degree or higher, a minimum of two years’ HR experience with a bachelor’s degree or a minimum of four years’ HR experience with a high school diploma and complete a three-hour, 175-question exam.

Ruth and Janet anticipate that they will apply the new ideas they learned during the certification process to Valencia.

“Completing the PHR process, has helped me become an expert in the HR field, allowing me to provide superior service to attract, motivate, develop and retain excellent employees who contribute to student success,” says Ruth. “As the new campus director of organizational development and human resources on the East Campus, I look forward to utilizing my human resource skills learned to assist our team.”

Janet adds, “Since I am relatively new to HR, obtaining my PHR helped me to understand the strategic role of human resources within an organization and gave me the opportunity to learn about the different disciplines under the HR umbrella. Understanding how human resources adds value to Valencia’s organizational goals helps me to better serve the needs of our faculty and staff with their current and future benefit needs.”

Jeff Goltz Presented Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez Presidential Medal

jeff-goltz-medal-270wCongratulations to Jeff Goltz, director of public safety, who was awarded the Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez (SUAGM) Presidential Medal on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, at the University’s Metro Orlando Campus commencement ceremony.

According to SUAGM, “the distinction recognizes individuals or organizations who have distinguished themselves for outstanding personal qualities, their professional careers and for their extraordinary contributions to the growth of SUAGM, as well as to the communities it serves. These include contributions to the scholarship fund or the capital campaign; support to community relations programs; and supporting the development of institutional academic programs.”

Jeff’s leadership in implementing the Institute for Security and Protection (ISEP) in Puerto Rico, which is modeled after the training and education program offered at Valencia and offers contemporary academic training opportunities to municipal police officers and other law enforcement professionals, was the catalyst for the award.

This criminal justice transformation partnership, developed as a response to the U.S. Dept. of Justice Agreement in Puerto Rico, signed by the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, in July 2013, serves as a model for police training reform in Puerto Rico.

Winter Park Campus Continues Tradition of Community Leadership

A message from Stacey Johnson, President, East & Winter Park Campuses


In photo from left to right: Stacey Johnson, president, East and Winter Park Campuses, Isabel Rivera Hagan, operations manager, Winter Park, and Michele McArdle, executive dean, Winter Park Campus

Isabel Rivera Hagan, operations manager, was the fourth participant from the Winter Park Campus to graduate from the Leadership Winter Park (LWP) program in May 2014.

Offered by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, this yearlong program provides opportunities for cultural enrichment, community engagement and a chance to learn about the city’s history.

LWP identifies and promotes potential leaders from the business community who desire to become involved in making a difference in Winter Park. The program is an adaptation of a nationwide community-awareness, leadership preparation effort and offers a behind-the-scenes look at and study of the critical issues and challenges facing Winter Park.

Involving the College in meeting the community’s needs and goals through organizations like Leadership Winter Park is one of Valencia’s strategic goals.

“Participation in Leadership Winter Park was a beyond fulfilling experience,” Isabel said.

In addition to meeting city leaders and touring city facilities, she learned about key businesses and organizations in the community such as Orlando Health, Heart of Florida United Way and the Mayflower Retirement Community.

“It is amazing the things we have readily available on our doorstep that we overlook. This experience has taught me where the real needs are and that we need to stay locally connected but more importantly, be engaged,” Isabel shared, while highlighting other benefits of the program, such as the opportunity to connect with other community members, establish great relationships and create partnerships for the Winter Park Campus.

Leadership Winter Park will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. Campus participants for next year’s class are Katy Miller, director of the learning resource center, library, and Susan Dunn, manager of credit programs at Winter Park Campus.

Jack Rogers Wins 2014 Orange Audubon Nature Photography Contest

jack-rogers-audubon-groveA message from Stacey Johnson, President, East & Winter Park Campuses

Congratulations to Jack Rogers, professor of geology, East Campus, for winning first place, advanced division, in Orange Audubon Society’s 2014 (26th Annual) Kit and Sidney Chertok Nature Photography Contest.

The prize-winning photo is titled “Pretty Boy – Painted Bunting.”

“To my artist’s eye, Jack Rogers’ photograph captured this beautiful elusive bird in a composition that contrasted bright colors against a dark background and that balanced the bird above a delicate lichen covered branch,” shares Carolyn Cohen, a contest judge. “In its own way, the color range and the details of the lichen almost echo the delicate bird feathers.”

Jack has been a photographer for 40 years and travels extensively around Florida to photograph birds in their native habitat. His prize-winning shot was captured in Oviedo.

“Jack’s passion and vision for photography is perfectly aligned with the objective and mission of the Orange Audubon Society,” says Deborah Green, retired director of sustainability at Valencia and president, Orange Audobon Society.

The theme of this year’s contest was Florida Native and the assignment was to “photograph the amazing Florida native plants, animals, landscapes and habitats of Florida and help to raise awareness to protect Florida’s biological diversity,” according to the organization’s website.

Jack’s images have been published in books and magazines including Bird Coloration, a National Geographic Book, Audobon, Birder’s World, Florida Wildlife, Birds and Blooms and Florida Naturalist magazines.

“My images represent a labor of love,” he says.

To view more of Jack’s work, visit his online photo gallery.

Kathleen Plinske’s “Got College” Effort Cited for Boosting College Attendance


The work of Kathleen Plinske, president of Valencia’s Osceola and Lake Nona campuses, along with Valencia’s great community college partners in Osceola County, was featured on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in the American Association of Community College’s (AACC) new “21st-Century Center,” a resource for community college leaders highlighting promising practices for student success and institutional reform at the nation’s community colleges.

In an interview by Emily Rogan, Kathleen talks about the grassroots effort to improve high school-to-college matriculation rates in Osceola County, including how the “Got College?” initiative came about, who’s involved and how the stakeholders are working together to make it effective.

Read the full story on the AACC website.


  • Andrew Ray said:

    Kathleen –
    Congratulations on a very successful effort to improve learning – well done!

    PMTue, 01 Jul 2014 17:20:23 +0000Tue, 01 Jul 2014 17:20:23 +0000pm14,5:20 pm

  • Annelle Rosemayer said:

    Congrats, Ruth and Janet, on earning your PHR Certifications!

    PMTue, 08 Jul 2014 14:29:02 +0000Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:29:02 +0000pm14,2:29 pm

  • Liz Suarez said:

    Congrats Ruth and Janet!

    Kudos to Kathleen for making every effort to instill the value of education and to show to others that opportunities to go to college are very real!

    Kudos to Jeff for your leadership in reforming police training in PR, excellent partnership!

    PMThu, 10 Jul 2014 16:24:20 +0000Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:24:20 +0000pm14,4:24 pm

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