This year, MCCCD held the annual Student Success Conference on Friday, October 17. This was an all-day event providing “opportunities for faculty, staff, and administrators to engage in meaningful and collaborative conversations about practices and strategies that positively impact student retention, persistence, and success.” The day included presentations by Dr. Pedro A. Noguera and Dr. Terry O’Banion, as well as sessions by faculty and staff throughout the district.

GCC faculty member Lori Walk shared a little about her experience at the conference, “I feel very fortunate that Maricopa Community Colleges brought Dr. Pedro A. Noguera to speak to us as part of the 2014 Student Success Conference. His message of moving students from risk to resilience through motivation, relationships, and relevance was so powerful. I was reminded that our students continue to come to us under pressures of having to work coupled with being extremely low in their academic preparation. The social services network Dr. Noguera described is almost like a K – 12 community school. He said that our students need assistance with food, jobs, child care, transportation, and health care. These needs far exceed the traditional college professor’s “stand and deliver” approach. I don’t think I could handle these increased expectations without being part of strong teams within our learning community. I utilize my colleagues for continued inspiration and feedback to improve my performance. I’m currently part of two First-Year Experience teams in which reading and CPD150 courses are linked. I’m also taking the Blended Learning Course Design available to us online and face-to-face. My EDU220 students are peer mentoring ESL students from Betsey Wheeler’s class. My students benefit from the many GCC volunteers who give their time through One2One@ GCC. Working with members of Counseling, the Center for Teaching, Learning and Engagement, and my colleagues in education and reading makes me more optimistic and successful. Although Dr. Noguera’s message of motivation, relationships, and relevance was aimed at what we need to do for students, I think it’s also an appropriate message for how we are to survive and thrive as community college instructors.”

For me, the Student Success Conference is a wonderful opportunity to see all of the great things happening across the Maricopa Community College District to improve student success. I always leave with a number of new ideas to at least discuss, if not look towards incorporating into our work at GCC. So, consider going next year, but until that time, be sure to utilize the rich networks here at GCC that support each of us in our work.

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