New initiative discussed at All College Day

Los Medanos College faculty and staff filed into the Recital Hall Friday, Jan. 19 for the Spring ‘18 Opening Day All College Meeting.

After a continental breakfast and meet & greet for attendees, the event kicked off with a surprise musical number by school mascot, Maurice the Mustang. President Bob Kratochvil then started the meeting by acknowledging new faculty members, highlighting some of last semester’s events and making some announcements which include LMC qualifying for the Aspen Award for the second consecutive year and the announcement of a groundbreaking ceremony at the Brentwood Center April 18.

Julie Von Bergen and Kasey Gardner took to the podium next to deliver information about the new “Guided Pathways” initiative being implemented on campus. This semester, the task force formed Fall 2017, will be creating a steering committee to develop an official work plan on how to spend a $950,000 award over five years given to them by the state. The Guided Pathways initiative was the central topic for the remainder of the meeting.

“Guided pathways isn’t about doing more work… It’s about doing work smarter,” said Gardner. Guided pathways are more of an organizational concept more than anything else, based on using classes, counselors, academic resources and faculty engagement to ensure that every student has a “well aligned” and “[not] overly cumbersome” complete guided educational and career path from start to finish shortly after enrolling at LMC, according to Gardner.

Von Bergen presented several points of data from Georgia State University, one of the inventors of the guided pathways concept. The data showed that since adopting guided pathways as an educational tool in 2003, their graduation rates by race/ethnicity had raised by 28 to 36 percent per group and almost completely equalized across all groups. Von Bergen believes that fully implementing a guided pathways system at LMC could create similar improvements.

Several speakers took turns giving presentations on various ‘pillars’ of the guided pathways philosophy.

Rachel Anicetti and David Reyes of the Transfer Academy spoke about “Pillar One: Create Clear Curricular Pathways to Employment and Further Education” by demonstrating the success of their relatively new ACS-010 “Becoming a College Scholar” class, a requirement in some learning communities such as Umoja, that pushes students to develop a sense of “strong academic purpose and identity,” valuable skills such as research ability and a detailed career plan.

MESA Director Nicole Trager spoke about “Pillar Two: Help Students Choose & Enter Their Pathway,” talking about how MESA is “an original guided pathway” due to its specialized counseling, community environment and required four-year plans.

“When you are in a group of similar, like-minded students, it helps you [get] a pathway as well as support,” Trager explained.

Math Lab Coordinator Julio Guerrero-Gonzalez and Center for Academic Support Coordinator spoke about “Pillar Three: Help Students Stay on Their Path”, talking about the important role that resources such as theirs can play in helping a student along their path once they have found it and displaying slides filled with positive comments from students who utilized their resources.

The final speaker was a student, Richard Stanfield. Stanfield is heavily involved with the Honors Program and spoke very positively of the tutoring and counseling he has received from it, and urged that the Guided Pathways Task Force us it as a model.

“It would be wonderful if that kind of attention, if that kind of institutional ability could be applied to every student,” Stanfield said, “even those that don’t know they want to succeed.”

“I think Richard captured the essence of the presentation very well,” said Gardner in closing.

The meeting ended with the present faculty and staff splitting into breakout groups and attending workshops to discuss how to incorporate the lessons of the meeting into their everyday classroom routines