A Message from Michael Robbins, President, Collegewide Faculty Association
This will be my last update as the Valencia College Faculty Association president. My term is ending, and it has been an engaging year (to put it mildly). Over the past year, Valencia has experienced multiple changes: in our leadership, in our governance and in our structure. We’ve discussed the impact of new laws and state guidance that have direct influence on our decisions in the classroom. Some of us have had to adapt to new teaching practices that were unfamiliar, and we’ve had to adapt to new students, many of whom are less ready than we’d ideally like.
Perhaps understatement is my literary device of choice for this last message.
My term as president started with me asking faculty to be kind to students. Kindness doesn’t mean removing rigor, but rather just remembering that our students have been through the same exhausting experiences we’ve been through over the last three years. Some even worse, and some for longer than three years.
I’d like to end my term by asking you all to be curious. It’s easy to get defensive when our teaching practices are questioned, or when the world seems to oppose us. I often want to lash out and scream at every perceived anti-intellectual fool I find online, and I instinctually get outraged when I see data that show my students aren’t being successful. I want to blame them, or I want to blame their previous teachers, or I want to blame the state of Florida, or I want to blame whatever politician is currently in the headlines.
The truth is this: It’s on me now. It’s my responsibility. Rather than succumbing to that outrage and anger, I try to remind myself of when Valencia faculty are at their absolute best: We are at our best when we approach our learning environment with curiosity. I’m proudest of our faculty when I see them adapting to new circumstances, trying out new methods, and reflecting on how those new methods influenced student learning.
I’m going to return to the classroom curious. We have students coming to us who will need extra attention and who have likely had poor educational experiences. I’m prepared to adapt to those needs — to review my course material, and to approach every learning opportunity with curiosity … because in my mind, curiosity is what leads to discovery, which is what leads to change. It may be frustrating, and it may be tiring, but I believe that’s true of anything worth exploring.
Thank you all for the opportunity I’ve had this past year. It’s been an absolute pleasure serving as the Faculty Association president. I hope we can all extend courtesy and appreciation to our incoming Faculty Association president, Doreen Watson. I trust her to represent me.
And finally, I hope you all enjoy your rest in August, and I hope you’ll all join me in being curious in fall 2022. You all can reach out to me any time you have a question, or a problem, or if you want to talk, regardless of my role at this College.
You might say that Professor of Dental Hygiene Tiffany Baggs hasn’t forgotten her roots. That’s because she’s a graduate of the same Valencia College program she now teaches for.
Tiffany joined the College as an instructional lab manager in 2010 and earned her tenure this past June, teaching alongside some of the same professors who taught her. She also won a Campus Innovation Award for her tenure portfolio.
Tiffany says it took earning her master’s degree to help her polish her teaching style into what it is today.
“I used to tell students the answers when they had questions,” she explains. “Now, I teach students how to better learn and how to almost teach themselves by showing them how to find the answers. I feel like they retain more when they figure it out on their own and I confirm if they are right or wrong.”
She also credits Professors of Dental Hygiene Pam Sandy (now retired) and Robin Poole with helping her to become a hygienist and a better instructor today.
“They taught me how to teach,” she says.
Tiffany says that teaching students to help themselves is an important part of mastering the science of dental hygiene.
“Dental hygiene is very science-based, but treatment of patients is very grey. Hygienists can’t always find the answers they need in a textbook, so they need to be able to critically think and find the answers to the situations they see in a patient’s mouth,” she explains.
The Dental Hygiene program is a two-year cohort, so Tiffany takes advantage of all of the time she has to get to know her students.
“By the end of the first semester, I get pretty comfortable with my students and learn a lot about their lives,” she says. “There are a lot of conversations about kids and dogs!”
Tiffany’s action research project was a statistical analysis game she developed after seeing Sandra Draper, professor of mathematics, do a variation of it for her teaching mini-lesson project.
“I immediately knew I could adapt it for my students,” Tiffany recalls.
Through the game, Tiffany teaches her students to compute community population statistics, a skill they need for the three semesters of community classes they must take. The culmination of the classes requires the students to develop, implement and evaluate a community outreach project.
“The problem is, many of my students don’t like math, and they aren’t required to take a statistics class because they are in an A.S. degree program,” Tiffany explains.
The game teaches them three basic components of statistics: mean, median and mode, which they can then use to analyze their outreach projects.
Tiffany’s version of Quiz-Quiz-Trade involves each student getting a set of question-and-answer index cards. Working in pairs, the students quiz one another, trade cards and then find a new partner to quiz.
“The rapid repetition of the questions and answers helps students learn at a faster rate,” Tiffany says.
Tiffany implemented her action research project in fall 2018. She started with a pretest to gauge her students’ knowledge of statistics. They then played the game and took a post-test a week later.
“My students loved it,” Tiffany says. “Not only was it a fun way to learn concepts they didn’t want to learn, but their scores also went through the roof.”
Most of her classes are labs, so something else Tiffany does in her classes that her students enjoy involves allowing them to become the teachers. In this pod-learning exercise, each student is first assigned a role. They are in charge of positioning the exam room light, positioning the patient or positioning the hygienist. Then, another member of the group offers corrections to their classmates to help them all learn.
“When they are sitting with the patient, they don’t see some things we see from observing. It helps them learn to correct themselves, and they like having a part in helping to teach their classmates,” Tiffany explains.
Tiffany also has a few best practices she thinks other professors can use.
“Allow your students to learn without giving them all the answers.”
She says she thinks her students gain more respect for her because she allows them to have their own “aha” moments.
After she graduated from the Valencia College Dental Hygiene program, Tiffany worked in a private practice dental office for three years while she earned her bachelor’s degree and started working as a lab manager at the College before becoming a member of the teaching faculty in 2014.
Tiffany earned a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from St. Pete College and a master’s in dental hygiene with a concentration in education from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.
Tiffany and her mentor, Robin Poole, also just received a $5,200 Endowed Chair award. The pair will pilot a new way to demonstrate progression of learning with dental hygiene students through the completion of a capstone project. The project will consist of a student portfolio containing learning experiences from their four clinical courses and a few didactic courses.
Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.
In August 2022, Valencia College will expand its printing capabilities by implementing PaperCut into the employee multi-functional device (MFD) fleet — the devices that scan, copy and print — in employee areas.
PaperCut is currently used as the collegewide student printing manager and will enable more robust features for our students, faculty and staff. Unlike the current system, which restricts employees printing access to only equipment located in their assigned office and campus location, with PaperCut, employees will have access to release their print job regardless of their campus location. With the changes in work modalities that have occurred in the last two years, this is an exciting change allowing for much needed flexibility.
The entire employee MFD fleet will enable employees to print/copy/scan items from Valencia-issued computers, personal laptops and tablets, or even print from their phones with their Valencia College ID or VID number. This process will significantly enhance the employees’ experience by enabling them to send a job to their print cue and proceed to release the print using the most convenient campus location.
Installation of the PaperCut software is currently underway, and detailed instructions are in development. Faculty should expect this new system to be in place when they return for the Fall term.
Please note that this change does not impact any personal or departmental printers that are not managed by the Procurement team.
More information, including tutorials and resources, will be available in the coming weeks and shared via The Grove and the Procurement website.
When Doreen Watson looks at today’s Valencia College student body, she sees herself. Now, that might be because Doreen is a proud Valencia graduate, but there are also some other reasons.
Like many of our students, Doreen’s story starts with a journey from somewhere else. In her case, she came to the United States from Jamaica when she was just 17 years old. Her mother, who lived in Orlando, sponsored Doreen and two of her siblings. As an immigrant, she experienced much fear, yet the new opportunities culminated in excitement. But as Doreen prepared for the American Dream, the neighborhood kids mistook her shyness as her being “uppity.”
“They told me I would be beaten up if I even got on the school bus,” Doreen recalls. Out of concern, she opted to attend Orlando Tech College to get her GED since not going to school was not an option. Education is a major part of her culture as well as with her mother.
Seemingly back on track, Doreen enrolled at Valencia College in January 1983; however, she stopped shy of graduation.
“I was one Spanish class away from graduation and I didn’t even know it,” she says.
Her reasons for telling these stories span beyond the Valencia College community getting to know her.
“It is important for students to have access to information as well as mentors at the College,” she states.
This would have made a difference in her earlier educational journey.
Ten years later, in 1995, while working at Walt Disney World, she made the decision to go back to school. Doreen earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology two years later from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and went on to start a master’s there as well. She switched gears, moved to Texas, and earned her master’s in women’s studies as well as a Ph.D. in sociology from Texas Woman’s University. Following graduation, she taught at Regis University, located in Denver, for six years, where she planned on retiring.
Like so many things in Doreen’s life, her journey back to Florida was not planned. She came for her summer vacation to visit her sick mother; the universe had a different plan. As such, Doreen’s path became a full circle when she came back to Valencia as a professor of sociology in 2013 and earned her tenure in 2019. She’s also served as a faculty fellow for data and assessment, as well as the chair of sociology and anthropology at West Campus.
Today, she walks around our campuses with pride, knowing she overcame so many of the same social and educational obstacles our students face today. That’s a fact that she hopes she can use to support faculty at the College in discovering more connections with all their students and not just the ones who speak out the most in class.
As Faculty Association president, Doreen is hoping to create more opportunities where the faculty and staff at the College will interact. For this sociologist at heart, those connections start with communication.
“I have never been to the Poinciana Campus, but I surmised that it is just as beautiful as the others. By stepping out of our offices, we may meet a student, a fellow faculty, staff member or administrator who we did not know before. Intentionality is key to galvanizing changes.”
One of the Jesuit principles that is stressed at Regis, is to think of the whole person.
“When I’m in meetings, I tend to be very aware that how we say what we say matters more than what we say,” she explains.
It is not about cajoling, rather it is about recognizing that we are all in this together.
She’s hoping everyone remembers that the College’s goal is to do what is best for the College and the students and not always for the individual. Yet, we cannot use a “cookie cutter” approach to deal with every situation.
“Equally, there is no single story of ‘the faculty,’ and we all need to have a voice. Our students come from so many different backgrounds and so do our faculty. We need to embrace that and use it to further our mission,” she says.
One way Doreen hopes to bring about faculty cohesion is by finding more ways for faculty and staff to collaborate and share ideas.
“We need more social and work relationships across campuses, within campuses and across disciplines,” she says.
Doreen also has a “lofty” goal of bridging the gap between faculty and administration at the College.
Something that might be a little daunting about her new role is that Doreen now represents about 500 faculty members, most of whom she has likely never met. It’s important to her that everyone understands that she’s approachable and that she represents and serves all of them.
“I care about their needs,” she says. “I think recognition of that will come over time.”
Doreen thinks the size of the task is what drives a lot of faculty members away from wanting to be involved in governance at the College. Another goal she has is to try to help others understand what governance is and how it plays a role in making sure the faculty voice is heard by senior leaders.
Doreen served as an at-large member of the West Campus Faculty Senate before she says Adrienne Matthews, professor, political science, put her name in for vice president of the Faculty Association.
“She didn’t tell me until after she had done it,” Doreen recalls.
Even though she wanted to take a break after earning her tenure, Doreen says she’s happy she accepted the nomination.
“Nothing in my life is typical,” Doreen explains. “Even though I have been at the College since 2013, I’m still a newbie. Like all things in life, a key part of my year as president will be fostering communication and listening to one another.”
Focusing on the end result will also be a key component of Doreen’s work in the 2022-2023 academic year.
“We impact lives. We change and affect lives every single day. As challenging as it may get sometimes, we should take some solace in that since not many jobs/careers allow us to have this level of impact on current and generations to come. I want us all to take pride in what we do and revel in our successes,” she says.
As she prepares for her opening speech at Academic Assembly in August, Doreen is already looking forward to graduation next spring.
“I love putting on my regalia,” she explains. “There’s something about walking into that auditorium as a clearly marked educated woman. It’s important for other people to see an educated Black woman. Why? Because Representation is important in role models for students.”
In addition to herself, Doreen’s wife and two nieces are also Valencia graduates. A third niece will graduate soon.
“There is something special about Valencia College that keeps people employed here for years. In the doubtful times, let’s reflect on why we keep coming back. For me, my reasons are multifaceted. Could it be the nostalgia, the students or colleagues? Yes, no doubt it is both/and. They all serve to enhance my experiences and the best is yet to come. Here’s to 2022-23.”
The first day of fall classes is around the corner, so why not begin the new school year by participating in professional development?
There are two courses available to take in August, including one that is part of the LifeMap certification. If you’re looking to finetune your classroom assessment techniques for the new school year, then check out the Classroom Assessment Techniques course that will take place online and counts for 10 PD hours.
In September, there will be an increase in the amount and variety of Faculty Development opportunities (including more in-person courses!).
Click the button below to view a list of upcoming courses.
The U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal along with Valencia College President Kathleen Plinske, the Accelerated Skills Training team and our partners from Heart of Florida United Way toured the different experiential programs at the Center for Accelerated Training, Northwest Orlando.
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
The U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal visited Valencia College’s Center for Accelerated Training, Northwest Orlando for a tour and roundtable discussion on Monday, July 25, 2022.
During the roundtable, the group — including Kvaal, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Lockheed Martin Senior Manager of Operations Engineering Paul Moore and our own College President Kathleen Plinske, Vice President of Global Professional and Continuing Education Joe Battista, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Isis Artze-Vega, and Vice President of Student Affairs Lesley Frederick — discussed Valencia College’s partnership with the community and local employers and how the Accelerated Skills Training (AST) program is providing short-term, accessible and affordable training for students, leading to industry-based credentials and then employment in high-wage, high school industry careers.
Lockheed Martin’s Paul Moore shared how his company has partnered with the College to develop the exact training that candidates need for entry-level careers in CNC machining and electronic board assembly. Since the AST partnership started, Lockheed Martin has hired more than 130 students. Some of those students have gone on to earn promotions and/or degrees.
“It’s been a marvelous relationship,” Paul explained. “The key for us is the shortness of the program; it’s very compact.”
Additionally, Paul added that he sits on an advisory board for the program, which allows Lockheed Martin to provide timely feedback on what’s needed in the industry at that moment, and that our AST program often quickly adjusts to those changes.
“It’s a win win for us to be able to influence the program and then hire from it,” he said.
Kvaal also heard from student Torrell Wright, a residential maintenance technician student, who was about to graduate from the 10-week program the next day. Torrell, who learned about the opportunity on Facebook and also from a relative, has had five job offers so far. Before the program, Torrell had been job hopping, and he had started seeking trade opportunities just a few weeks prior to seeing our AST program on Facebook.
“To be completing this program tomorrow; it’s amazing,” Torrell shared with Kvaal, adding how he loved that this short-term program could lead to a high-paying career.
The group also discussed how the College used more than $200 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund grants from March 27, 2020, and March 11, 2021, including distributing nearly $117,000 emergency aid to students and using $9.9 million to hire 265 visiting professors to maintain smaller on-site classes to accommodate physical distancing while not reducing overall capacity in courses and programs.
A Message from Lisa Shrestha, Director, Compensation
In November 2020, Florida voters approved Amendment 2, which amends Florida’s constitution to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026. The current minimum wage in Florida is $10 per hour, and on Friday, September 30, 2022, the state minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour.
Last year, the Organizational Development and Human Resources team, in partnership with the Business Operations and Finance team, implemented a plan to increase the minimum wage incrementally each year to reach $15 per hour by September 2026.
However, in recognition of employee service and to retain our current talent, in addition to the 4% pay increase for eligible employees, Valencia College is increasing the minimum to $15 per hour for this fiscal year instead of adjusting wages on an incremental, annual basis to meet the required mandate by September 2026. Please note that the rate for institutional and federal work-study employees and part-time student positions will be $13 per hour.
The minimum wage increase, plus the corresponding increases to address compression, will impact nearly 2,000 full- and part-time staff. Staff members who are currently in pay grades 1617-1623 and impacted by the minimum wage increase:
Will be placed at least at the new minimum of their respective pay grade.
If eligible to receive the 4% increase and that rate is higher than the new minimum for their pay grade, employees will be placed at the higher rate.
An additional adjustment will be made for all employees whose most recent rate before the fiscal year 2022-2023 adjustment was above the old minimum of their respective pay grades to address wage compression; those placed at the new minimum have already been given their adjustment.
The following table provides a side-by-side comparison of the 2021-2022 and the 2022-2023 base annual salary and hourly rates for the affected pay grades.
Those in paygrades above 1623 will not be impacted by the adjustments made to reach the $15 minimum wage and will not be affected by wage compression. However, the 4% increase will be given to all eligible staff in pay grades 1624 or above, and the minimum and maximum of each pay grade was increased by 2%.
The adjustments for minimum wage will be implemented with the annual increases beginning Sunday, August 7, 2022. Employees will see pay increases on their August 19 paycheck for full-time staff members and September 2 for part-time staff members.
For frequently asked questions about the minimum wage increase, click the button below.
For questions, contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at HR4U@valenciacollege.edu, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-582-HR4U (4748).
It’s your final chance to enter into the drawing to win a copy of the book, “The Stress-Proof Brain,” and a $75 Amazon gift card*, as UnitedHealthcare Nurse Liaison Jessica Johnson presents the final video of her four-part series based on the book. This learning series sheds light on how stress affects our physical bodies, our social and emotional health, and our well-being overall.
In this fourth video, Nurse Jessica focuses on using cognitive flexibility to decrease worry and tips to cope with anxiety.
After watching the video, click the button below to complete the survey, which will be your entry into the drawing. All survey responses must be submitted by Friday, August 12, 2022, to be entered into the drawing. You have the opportunity to enter the drawing four times by completing the survey after each one of the four parts of the series. Did you miss parts 1, 2 or 3? Check them out below:
Valencia College culinary, baking/pastry and hospitality students were recently invited by Walt Disney World to an inside experience in the newly reimagined Victoria & Albert’s restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
At the event, Disney announced that the company is donating $50,000 to the Valencia College Foundation toward the Valencia’s Walt Disney World Center for Culinary Arts and Hospitality.
“Immersive experiences like this help our students reach for and attain goals beyond the program here at Valencia,” said Wendy Givoglu, provost, Downtown and Winter Park Campuses and Transfer Initiatives. “We were honored to be among the first to dine at this award-winning restaurant where our students could one day see themselves working.”