Employee Development Funds Remain Available

Friday, January 7, 2022

A Message from Melissa Pedone and Stanton Reed, Interim Presidents, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

Employee Development Funds (EDF) are available for the remainder of the academic year. EDF are used to provide ongoing support of collegewide and/or campus goals and plans, continued development of College employees, and the development of programs that enhance the College’s ability to achieve its mission. Each campus has its own EDF guidelines.

Contact your supervisor if you have questions about your eligibility for EDF or want additional information about this benefit.

Valencia Voices: Voices of Immigration Opens January 18 in Osceola Gallery

Friday, January 7, 2022

A Message from Melissa Pedone and Stanton Reed, Interim Presidents, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

The exhibit “Valencia Voices: Stories of Immigration in Central Florida” opens in the Gallery (Building A) on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. This interactive exhibit will feature stories of 10 Osceola Campus students and staff who have recorded their stories of separation from their countries of origin and their arrival in the United States and Central Florida. Interpretive panels in Spanish and English and personal artifacts will show immigration as an individual experience, a watershed moment for men, women and children that has enriched Osceola County as much as setting the trajectories of people’s lives. The exhibit closes on Thursday, February 17, 2022, and moves to the Osceola County Historical Society Museum on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

Roundtable Discussion
Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Location: Osceola Campus, Building 1, Room 123

Students and staff who have recorded their immigration stories for the Valencia Voices archive of oral histories will recount their experiences as immigrants and as participants in this project at a roundtable discussion. Everyone is invited and pizzas will be provided.

The exhibits and panel discussions are funded in part by a Community Project Grant from Florida Humanities.

For more information, contact Professor of Humanities Mark McMeley at mmcmeley@valenciacollege.edu or (321) 682-4106.

Faculty Development Offers Resources for Start of Semester

Friday, January 7, 2022

A Message from Melissa Pedone and Stanton Reed, Interim Presidents, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

Get ready for the spring semester with helpful resources, including the Start of the Semester Checklist, First Day Checklist, additional tips on the Valencia Faculty Canvas Resources page and these Early Alert and Student Engagement Strategies.

Please remember that your Faculty and Instructional Development team is available to support you whether you’re looking to design learning activities and assessments for classes, copy existing course content, and/or talk through your ideas for professional development.

Welcome Back for the Spring Semester!

Friday, January 7, 2022

A Message from Melissa Pedone and Stanton Reed, Interim Presidents, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

We hope everyone enjoyed a restful Winter Break and took time to slow down and be present. As the spring semester starts, we have some updates and reminders about the continuing COVID-19 protocols.

  • We are continuing the “masks expected” procedure for our campuses, and KN-95 masks will be available for faculty and staff in the security offices on each campus, in academic department offices and available for delivery via interoffice mail. To request masks by interoffice mail, send your request including the number of masks requested, contact person and location to be delivered to Courier Manager Larry Fox at lfox10@valenciacollege.edu. Medical masks will continue to be available in classrooms.
  • Illness reporting and contact tracing continues in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The COVID case management team continues to support our college community with illness reporting and contact tracing. Following the CDC’s guidelines, the case management team should be notified at covidillness@valenciacollege.edu if you test positive, have symptoms that could be COVID, or are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19. The team will assess your unique circumstances and provide directions for isolation, quarantine and return to work/class.
  • Additionally, many faculty members continue to teach in mixed-mode and fully-online modalities. With different types of online classes available, students may have questions about their course modality. To help facilitate conversations with students about course modality types, visit the Valencia College Modality Descriptions website. Also for if you are looking for assistance in making the most of your mixed-mode classes, check out LCTS 3221 Designing and Delivering Your Mixed Mode Course, which has a section beginning on Tuesday, January 18, 2022.
  • Finally, for faculty members looking to include a statement about COVID-19 in their syllabus, we include a sample:

The COVID case management team will inform faculty of documented COVID-19 related absences, and these documented absences for COVID-19 quarantine, isolation or illness will not be penalized. During periods of quarantine, students will continue to attend or watch recordings of classes if possible, unless they are unable to do so as a result of symptoms of COVID-19. If a student is in isolation but is able to attend class virtually or watch recordings of class, he or she will do so. Students will contact the professor upon return to class following documented COVID-19 absences and work with the faculty member to develop a plan to complete any work missed during the illness

Nicholas DeArmas Teaches Incarcerated Students

Thursday, January 6, 2022

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

As shared in the December 2021 Campus Concentrate, Nicholas DeArmas, professor, English, is part of a group of East Campus faculty and staff who supports the Books Behind Bars Project, an extension of the Florida Prison Education Project (FPEP). This University of Central Florida initiative provides educational opportunities to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in Florida.

Nicholas first discussed the idea to support this project when he attended his first East Campus department meeting in 2019.

“I was given an opportunity to include my colleagues in this community outreach work. The groundwork had already been laid by Dean of Communications Linda Neal, who made space for this work as one of our department goals — to better support the incarcerated population,” shared Nicholas.

Before working full time at Valencia College, Nicholas was already teaching “inside” for the FPEP. The course was an Introduction to Literary Theory course, taught to men in the main unit of the Central Florida Reception Center, a correctional facility in Orange County.

“It was an overwhelmingly powerful experience, one that filled me with so much gratitude and even more perspective,” he reflected. “The students I taught inside exceeded my expectations and helped me to become a better teacher.”

Since then, Nicholas has also taught English Composition II to more than 120 incarcerated students in five Central Florida prisons. This experience left him with a strong impression. It made him realize how critical it is to get educational materials inside the prison to students, who very much appreciated any reading materials provided to them.

Admirably, he points out, “As educators at Valencia College, we see firsthand in our classrooms the transformative, redemptive and restorative power that education holds. By providing incarcerated students with not only educational materials and supplies but our efforts and our recognition, we reinforce that they still have value, that they still have something meaningful to contribute and that they can have purpose.”

Additionally, he provides information to support this important work.

“It costs the United States $31,000 to incarcerate someone every year, and studies show that prison education programs help to reduce the recidivism rate (the rate at which the formerly incarcerated re-offend) from 54% to 14%, a decrease of 40%,” Nicholas said. “This is a staggering difference in the lives of not only the formerly incarcerated but in the lives of their family members on the outside, who are often system-impacted by the incarceration of a family member. Furthermore, spending $1 per incarcerated person on educational programs saves the community $4 to $5 in the future for decreased recidivism rates. When we educate our incarcerated population, they stay out of prison more, and we all save money and time, not to mention we allow the power of education to bestow dignity on those who have been made low.”

Thus far, the Florida Prison Education Project has collected more than 10,000 books to benefit our incarcerated students. Florida Prison Education Project Books have been included on the newly created Book Donation Map of America. The map allows you to search by your city and shows local organizations that accept book donations near you.

Nicholas credits his colleagues, Professors of English Tamara Madison, Susan Dauer and Shea Faulkner, as well as Librarians Erich Heintzelman and Chris Wettstein, who work with him on this project, and was delighted by their vision on how the book drive would operate. Thank you to the East Campus Library, the Humanities department, as well as the Communications department for facilitating transport, boxes and to help raise awareness for the book, as well as art supply, drive among faculty. Art supplies were included as FPEP also offers art courses including ART 1000, Fundamentals of Art, as well as Art History, and a visual and performative art course called Art and Wellness.

“Truly, they have done more work than I have to support this donation drive and I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that they are all empathetic, selfless and good people. It is easy to work with them because we all see the value in the people we are helping and in the work we are doing as educators,” shared Nicholas.

The book and art supplies drive will continue into next year, beyond the preliminary donation to FPEP. For more information on how you can help or to donate books or art supplies, please contact Nicholas at ndearmas1@valenciacollege.edu.

Welcome Cari Costa to East Campus Student Services


Thursday, January 6, 2022

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

A warm welcome to Student Development Program Advisor Cari Costa as she joins the East Campus Student Development team. Cari moved to Orlando this past May from Long Island, New York. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Adelphi University in 2016 and a Master of Arts in higher education administration from Stony Brook University in 2019.

Cari chose to pursue a career in higher education after being very involved on campus as an undergraduate student in numerous organizations and on-campus jobs. She was inspired by many of the administrators and fellow students she previously worked with, and it is her goal to provide that same kind of support and passion she received to East Campus students.

In her spare time, Cari enjoys spending time at Walt Disney World, taking dance classes and watching sports, especially hockey and her beloved New York Islanders.

Welcome Cari in the comments below.

PJI Hosts Fall Interfaith Gathering

Thursday, January 6, 2022

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

The Peace Breakfast: An Interfaith Gathering is an annual event hosted by the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) and provides attendees the opportunity to learn about different faiths and worldviews on a specific touchstone. In the wake of the pandemic, this year’s breakfast on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, focused on what one’s faith or worldview can teach others about grief and loss.

For many, it was a very personal topic, including those who knew esteemed colleague Penny Villegas, retired professor of English, who passed away this summer. Penny founded the “Peace Breakfast” more than two decades ago. This uplifting event was dedicated in her honor and celebrated her legacy in peace and justice work at the College and in the community. The event was well attended by faculty, staff, students and community members who found solace in sharing experiences of grief and loss in a safe space.

For more information on the work of the Peace and Justice Institute or the Peace Breakfast, contact PJI at peaceandjustice@valenciacollege.edu.

Winter Park Campus Celebrates the Holidays

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Winter Park Campus faculty and staff gathered on Friday, December 10, 2021, for their annual holiday party. The event began with a holiday movie emoji game led by Heather Hudson and Maria Thompson, library assistants. Next, Sharon May, faculty, New Student Experience, challenged faculty and staff to a game of “Name that Holiday Song,” and Mandy Hotchkiss, visiting professor, psychology, ended the party with a “Draw on Your Head” game where Mandy provided a series of instructions for faculty and staff to draw on their paper plates (while on their head) without looking. This was the first time since December 2019 that Winter Park employees gathered in person, so this was indeed a celebration.

In addition, Winter Park Campus employees provided gifts to the Eatonville Neighborhood Center for Families for its annual toy drive. The Neighborhood Center for Families (NCF), Eatonville, hosted a drive-thru toy giveaway for children of all ages on Thursday, December 16, 2021. The Winter Park Executive Dean’s Office accepted unwrapped toy donations and wrapping paper, which were delivered to NCF on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. Thank you to all who participated.

Winter Park Campus also hosted a holiday door contest from Monday, December 6 – Thursday, December 9, 2021. Eight doors were decorated with themes such as Snoopy, llamas and books. The winning door was voted by faculty, staff and students … and the winner was the Library door!

Free Mindfulness and Meditation Classes

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Koru Mindfulness is a four-session, no-credit course that will teach you the skill of mindfulness. It will also help you build the habit of using it in your life on a regular basis. These courses are open to students, faculty and staff. There will be two course offerings this spring:

Dates: Wednesdays, February 2, 9, 16 and 23, 2022
Time: 3 – 4:15 p.m.
Location:  Online
Registration: Click here to pre-register. 

Dates: Tuesdays, March 1, 15, 22 and 29, 2022
Time: 1 – 2:15 p.m.
Location: Online
Registration: Click here to pre-register. 

Participants get a lot more out of Koru if they stick with it from beginning to end, so pre-registration and attendance at all four sessions is required. Contact Marcia Roman, counselor, at mroman20@valenciacollege.edu if you have any questions.

An Unforgettable Bond Between Teacher and Student

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

The year was 1993 when Indian Trails Middle School in Seminole County opened its doors for the first time. Eric Wallman, interim dean, humanities, was in seventh grade, and his English teacher was Linda Goddard, visiting professor, English — a teacher he fondly remembered.

Fast forward 27 years to 2020 and pre-pandemic, Eric spotted Linda walking out of East Campus Building 4, recognized her and they had a brief but good conversation about that school year.

“It came to no surprise to see that Mrs. Goddard returned to teaching after retiring from public school,” Eric explained. “Being an educator is just part of her essence. She was so patient with us, so kind and she had a way of keeping us engaged through deep conversation as we explored themes, irony and metaphors … all that good stuff.”

Eric remembers the best part of Linda’s English class was reading stories.

“The darker stories stood out to me,” he shared. “‘Survive the Savage Sea’ was my favorite. It’s about a family shipwrecked by a pod of orca whales and having to survive for weeks off rainwater and the flying fish that jumped into their life raft. Another story involved ants devouring an entire village, like in the Amazon, while another story involved rats eating their way into a lighthouse.”

At an East Region Town Hall meeting in fall 2021, Eric used the “chat” feature to say hello to Linda.

“Hi Mrs. Goddard. I’m Eric Wallman. Remember me from seventh grade?”

His comment made all attendees smile and feel a sense of endearment and warmth. Two weeks later, they had a long phone conversation about his experiences in seventh grade English.

“Eric’s recognition of me and reconnecting after so many years has become a gift, a circuitous experience and stunning reminder that seventh grade is not when and where a child’s journey stops for their teachers. It can continue toward us, and, after a very long time, meet us in such remarkable ways. Thank you, Eric!,” Linda shared.