All College Day sets mood for upcoming year

Administration and local officials welcome college body on eve of campus center opening

(L to R) Senior Executive Assistant Michael Peterson, English, philosophy and humanities professor Jeff Michels and Liberal Arts Division Dean Jason Berner watch a demonstration powerpoint during the semi-annual All College Day event in GE 225 on Aug. 11.

By Roxana Amparo, Editor-in-Chief

All College Day brought together faculty and staff for the first time in GE-225 on Aug. 11 to share ideas on how to improve students’ educational experiences.

With a theme of “imagine,” the notion of imagining what the future holds for students, everyone was encouraged to think of ways to add value to students’ learning. With fall semester ahead and a wide open campus after years of ongoing construction, change is inevitable. But President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said, “There is a level of discomfort when we talk about change.”

To focus on improving the education of students there are 29 members who are joining the Contra Costa College community this semester.

Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson said educators have a direct impact on students and their performances. “We are their last resort,” she said. This event served as an opportunity to inform faculty and staff about the different academic opportunities for students in the community.

To bring energy into the room, Academic Senate President Beth Goehring invited all faculty and staff to play a game on their phones.

Each person was on a team based on color. The goal was to guess the correct faculty or staff on an online game that traded their facial features with googly eyes and big cartoon smiles.

Goehring also led a series of breathing exercises and stretches during a break from the presentations.

Mehdizadeh said it is time to “reinvent ourselves” and time to engage and nurture students.

Chancellor Helen Benjamin was in attendance and said, “People really look up to teachers. We have an obligation to be aware of this power and use it for good.”

Gilkerson said, “I believe when we don’t do our job well, we are lining them up for prison.” Gilkerson said the number of incarcerations in the United States is at its highest with 2.3 million people incarcerated.

She also said part of the problem lies with institutionalized racism.  And one out of every three black male babies born this century is expected to go to jail or prison.

“We send mixed messages, then we assess them to death and say ‘You’re not ready’,” she said.

She said many times an education is a last resort for students. “We can be the college they talk about throughout the state.”

West Contra Costa Unified School District Superintendent Matt Duffy said one of the ways to empower students is by giving them feedback. He said it is one of the most powerful things in student learning and by providing feedback, they are able to develop and grow as students.

“No imagine. No imagination. Don’t leave (how they are doint) to their imagination,” he said.

Duffy is part of the Dual Enrollment program within the WCCUSD, which allows local high school students to take college courses that meet the requirements to continue on their educational paths while gaining college experience.

As part of Dual Enrollment, there are 278 Middle College High School students on campus taking CCC courses, 130 more high school students in the Gateway Program and 564 students taking courses through different pathways in the various high schools in the district.

“In our 2015 senior survey, one-fourth of all seniors in the district said they plan to attend a community college as part of their post-secondary career,” Duffy said.

All College Day also allowed participation from community officials like Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. He said he has had a long history with the college, even taking real estate courses here in the 1980s.

Butt said 25 percent of Richmond Promise scholars listed CCC as their first choice in post-secondary education.

The Richmond Promise Scholarship helps students in their academic careers by giving $35 million to junior and senior high school students who are also Richmond residents. High school students are selected to receive the financial support, upon meeting the requirements of having lived in Richmond for the last four years, graduating from a WCCUSD high school and attending local schools since the 9th grade.