Student Recognized by New England Educators

Megan Doull’s instructors at Greenfield Community College aren’t the only ones who know she’s an exceptional student. Educational leaders from across New England recognize Doull’s academic success. At their annual Fall conference, members of the Learning Assistance Association of New England (LAANE) presented Doull with the LAANE Student Scholarship. Highly recommended by GCC faculty, Doull was chosen from applicants from across New England. LAANE’s $500 Student Scholarship is awarded to a student who is enrolled in a bachelor or associate degree program, has completed at least 6 credits of developmental course work, earned at least 24 credits, and has a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.20. LAANE, a regional affiliate of the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE), is a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance, advancement, and improvement of developmental education through research and practice. Developmental courses are taken by students whose college entrance exams show they do not have adequate preparation for some college-level courses; developmental courses serve as  a pathway into college-level courses.

Doull, 19, from Colrain, has taken developmental courses at GCC and made a highly successful transition from developmental courses into college-level courses. She is currently taking prerequisites in preparation for applying to GCC’s Associates Degree of Nursing program. Doull was on the Spring 2014 Dean’s List (over 3.50 term grade point average), and on the Summer 2014 President’s List (4.00 term grade point average). After completing her Associates Degree, Doull plans to study toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, perhaps through GCC’s partnership with Endicott College or at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Commenting on Doull’s success at GCC, GCC English Instructor and Co-Coordinator of Peer Tutoring, Cindy Snow, said, “Megan Doull knows what she wants and she works like mad to get there. Megan is excelling at Greenfield Community College. She started at GCC with fair to good skills, curiosity, intelligence, and drive; she applied herself wholeheartedly, and moved on to solidify her accomplishments and develop excellent skills. She’s the sort of student every instructor wishes to have in class. She was never late, never left early, and she volunteered in class on a regular basis. She also worked well in small groups, guiding her peers if they drifted off task, and tackling projects with enthusiasm. I enjoy watching her progress and can’t wait to see her graduate and attain her goals.”

Reflecting on the LAANE award, Doull said, “It has been very gratifying to have my hard work noticed. I never thought something like this would happen and it’s really helped motivate me. The biggest thing I’ve learned at GCC is to try. I was scared to try at first, but GCC helped me gain hope. Everyone at GCC has helped me be able to get this scholarship; I wouldn’t have been able to do it without their help. I’m a year ahead of where I thought I would be in working towards being a nurse.”

Doull graduated from Franklin County Technical High School where she studied Health Technology and became a Certified Nursing Assistant. The clinical hours in high school helped prepare her for her future career. During her senior year of high school, she completed the Emergency Medical Technician Basic course, receiving six GCC college credits. Doull has studied at GCC since fall 2013 when she took three developmental classes and one credit-bearing class. In January 2014, she took an intensive college level English composition class. In Spring 2014, she took two credit courses and two developmental courses. During the summer 2014 sessions, she studied an intensive version of Anatomy and Physiology. Currently, Doull is taking a psychology course, Sociology 101, Microbiology, developmental math, and her humanities elective, Middle Eastern Dance. Along with studying, Doull enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, helping out family members with chores, and volunteer work. She also enjoys hunting and has hunted her whole life. She and her family eat everything they harvest, and Doull values spending time outdoors in the peace of nature.

Commenting on her experience at GCC, Doull said, “I chose Greenfield Community College because it is close to where I live and their nursing program has an outstanding reputation and job outlook. I know GCC’s nursing program is extremely competitive and acceptance is not easy, so this gives me incentive to put my utmost effort into my studies. GCC is full of hardworking students. This atmosphere of intellectual peers and experienced, caring professors and staff make it a setting to thrive in academically and socially. The college trains its students well for their careers, as both my aunt and family friend experienced in nursing jobs after receiving their GCC degree. My goal was, and is, to show dedication in my studies so I have a strong reputation in the college when applying to its nursing program.”

Nationally, studies indicate that over 50% of students entering community colleges take developmental courses.  Doull’s success stands out.

GCC’s Peer Tutoring Program Co-coordinator Norman Beebe serves on the Executive Board of LAANE and chairs the conference proposal committee. Over 100 educators from throughout New England attended the 2014 LAANE conference.

For information about LAANE, visit www.laanechapter.org.

For information about developmental education at GCC, contact the chairs of GCC’s English and Mathematics Departments: Christine Jones Monahan, English Department Co-Chair, 413-775-1273, monahan@gcc.mass.edu and Steve Poulin, English Department Co-Chair, N326 775-1233, poulins@gcc.mass.edu, and Linda Cavanaugh, MathematicsDepartment Chair, 413-775-1455, cavanaugh@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

 

GCC Leader in Training Public Safety Professionals

National leaders and area employers know Greenfield Community College’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Fire Science Technology (FST) programs are at the forefront of training public safety professionals. GCC-trained Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics consistently perform better on certification exams than the national average and are sought after by regional employers who know GCC EMS graduates are well-trained. This fall, GCC’s Fire Science Technology program was recognized by the National Fire Academy as a Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) college. FESHE is a collaborative partnership between higher education institutions, the National Fire Academy, and the United States Fire Administration. FESHE Recognition means GCC’s FST program’s curriculum, text books, course descriptions, and degree requirements conform to the high standards instituted by the FESHE collaborative. Along with receiving a degree from an institution recognized as achieving a higher standard, GCC FST students will receive a certificate from the National Fire Academy and have greater ease when transferring credits to other schools or having their credentials recognized by other states.

Emergency Medical Services providers must pass psychomotor and cognitive exams to be certified. For the past two years, 100% of GCC Basic EMT students have passed the national psychomotor exam. For the past three years, GCC Basic EMT students’ first time pass rate for the cognitive exam has been 80%, in comparison with a national average of 69%. For the past three years, GCC Paramedic students’ first time pass rate for the national certification cognitive exam has been 85%, in comparison with a national average of 72%. For the past five years, 88% of the students initially enrolled in the 20-month Paramedic program graduated and received a Paramedic Certificate. Most GCC-trained Paramedics are gainfully employed as Paramedics. GCC is the first location in western Massachusetts to offer the new national Paramedic psychomotor exam and people from throughout the northeast come to GCC to be tested.

Commenting on GCC’s Paramedic Program, Monty Ruff, Assistant Professor in the Paramedic Certificate Program,said, “Even though EMT stands for Emergency Medical ‘Technician,’ my mantra is that we’re not training students to be technicians, we’re training them to be clinicians. Clinicians have the ability to think critically and apply their knowledge in emergency medical situations. GCC’s EMS program teaches critical thinking along with the technical skills.”

The FESHE Recognition comes after a complete overhaul of GCC’s FST program to meet national standards. GCC continues its collaboration with Berkshire Community College so  students can take FESHE curriculum courses offered by either school. Many of GCC’s FST courses are taught online or in a hybrid on-site/online format to meet the needs of students, including full-time firefighters furthering their careers. Every semester GCC offers at least one fully online FESHE-recognized course.

Charles “Butch” Garrity, GCC FST Adjunct Faculty member and Deputy Chief of the Lanesborough Fire Department, said, “GCC should be proud to have achieved recognition as a FESHE institution providing the best for its students, instructors, and the fire and emergency medical services community.”

GCC’s EMS and FST Program Director Dawn Josefski said, “I appreciate the financial and programmatic support that GCC provides to the EMS and FST programs so we can implement the best education possible for EMS and FST personnel. Our high standard of education means our graduates can provide a high level of care to the public.”

Interim Dean of Professional Studies Kathy Vranos said, “GCC is extremely proud of the dedication and competence of Dawn Josefski, Monty Ruff, and all of the adjunct faculty as they lead these programs. Their commitment to high quality standards and training for students in the EMS and FST programs is exemplary and sets an extraordinary example of professionalism and teamwork for students in this field for the life of their careers.”

For information about GCC’s Emergency Medical Services and Fire Science Technology programs, contact Dawn Josefski at 413-775-1761 or josefski@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

Student Civic Engagement Project Helps Local Farm and Food Bank

On November 2, Greenfield Community College volunteers will take their commitment to civic engagement off campus and out to the field. GCC students, staff, and faculty will participate in a gleaning trip sponsored by GCC’s Civic Engagement and Service Learning program on Sunday afternoon, November 2 to rescue food from area farms and bring it to those in need within the community. Gleaning is the gathering of produce after the harvest. Farmers are often unable to sell all of their produce, either because of imperfections or because they simply cannot harvest it all. Participants in this project will collect the excess produce and donate it to area food pantries including the GCC Food Pantry and Franklin County Community Meals Program through a community organization based in Springfield, Rachel’s Table. Since 1992, Rachel’s Table has been working to alleviate hunger and reduce food waste in Western Massachusetts. Alyce Stiles, Director of Workforce Development at GCC and also a Board member of Rachel’s Table, will lead the November 2 event. Stiles said, “As THIS community’s college, this gleaning trip is a wonderful way to give back to our community and help those who are in need of high quality, nutritious produce that is in our surrounding fields.” Abrah Dresdale, Coordinator of GCC’s Farm & Food Systems Program sees many benefits for GCC students participating in a gleaning event, regardless of their field of study. Dresdale said, “GCC students involved in gleaning as civic engagement get to share an experiential activity outside of the classroom. This is often a bonding experience for students that helps build the GCC community. They also get a close-up view of the waste in agricultural production. In the U.S., one-third of agricultural production goes to waste. Gleaning helps capture some of that food loss and divert it into the charitable food system. When GCC students, staff, and faculty go out into the fields or orchards and glean, they get to harvest the produce, weigh the boxes, see how many hundreds of pounds of food they’ve saved from rotting in the fields, and then take it to a food pantry. In the past, I’ve seen students put  produce they’ve gleaned on the food pantry shelves, then see people come into the pantry, take an apple picked by a GCC student off the shelf, and eat it. It is empowering and inspiring. So much of food production and distribution is out of the public view. People who participate in gleaning are able to connect the dots of how the food system works and become active participants in shaping the local food system.” The November 2 gleaning trip, one of many programs sponsored by GCC’s Civic Engagement and Service Learning program, is being advertised through social media and email. Students who have already signed up for the event include members of the GCC Student Senate and the GCC Student Veterans organization, VetNet. Commenting on civic engagement at GCC, Judy Raper, GCC’s Director of Student Development, said: “Currently the program offers about two civic learning programs a month. They are strictly volunteer activities and students do not get credit. We have an ongoing relationship with Stone Soup Café in Greenfield and our students volunteer there on a monthly basis. Staff and faculty are always invited to these programs and at least one staff member is always present. We have a civic engagement advisory board which is a group of Franklin County partners we meet with twice a semester to get feedback regarding how we can meet community needs as it relates to service. We also encourage our partners to submit service and internship opportunities to our website.” Jessica Harwood, Gleaning Coordinator for Rachel’s Table, said, “We are looking forward to the GCC students harvesting and donating produce right in their own community in Franklin County. This is the eighth year of our gleaning program. During that time, we have engaged over 500 volunteers to harvest and donate over 70,000 pounds of produce to area agencies. Our volunteers include youth groups, school and college groups, church members, and community volunteers, ranging in age from 11 to seniors. We maintain an email list of people who are interested in volunteering.”

For information about the November 2 GCC gleaning trip and GCC’s Civic Engagement and Service Learning program, visit http://www.gcc.mass.edu/cesl/ or contact Judy Raper at (413) 775-1819 or raperj@gcc.mass.edu. For information about Rachel’s Table’s gleaning program, visit www.rachelstablespringfield.org/gleaning.html or contact Jessica Harwood at jnanharwood@gmail.com.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

Cheri Ducharme appointed Simmons Nursing Faculty Endowed Chair

Greenfield Community College Nursing Professor Cheri Ducharme has been appointed to the Jean Simmons Nursing Faculty Endowed Chair. The Simmons Endowed Chair was endowed as part of a $1 million fund donated by anonymous donors in June, 2013. The endowed faculty chair is named in honor of long-time GCC nurse educator, Jean Simmons ’65 and is the first endowed faculty position at a community college in Massachusetts.

Ducharme has been a full-time faculty member in GCC’s Associate Degree Nursing Program for seventeen years, teaching Fundamentals and Pediatrics and Skills Lab. She’s worked in every role in the Program, twice serving as Program Coordinator. Ducharme is currently Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Simulation Lab Coordinator. In addition to her teaching background, Ducharme worked from 1976 to 2005 as a nurse in various settings in Franklin County, including Greenfield Pediatrics Associates, Greenfield Health Center, Farren Memorial Hospital, Franklin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Pioneer Family Physicians. Ducharme holds a Diploma from Burbank Hospital School of Nursing in Fitchburg, MA, a B.S. in Nursing from Fitchburg State College, and a M.S. in Nursing focused on Gerontology/Teaching from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Responding to her appointment to the Simmons Endowed Chair, Ducharme said, “It is a tremendous honor to be appointed to a position named for Jean. Jean Simmons has been my mentor and role model. Jean IS the GCC Nursing Program. She made us who we are, a community-oriented program with very high standards and a strong commitment to supporting our students and providing well-trained nurses for our community and beyond. She started the Nursing Program’s service learning component. Jean is so energetic, enthusiastic, and involved in every part of the community.”

Jean Simmons grew up in Florence, and graduated from Northampton High School in 1963. She was the first nursing program applicant to be admitted as a GCC nursing student and she graduated with the first class from the program. As well as working as a nurse in the community, Simmons taught in GCC’s Nursing program in 1968 and from 1974 to 2003 and served as Coordinator of the Associate of Science Nursing Program from 1998 to 2003. Simmons is now a Professor Emeritus.

Commenting on the appointment, GCC President Bob Pura said, “Cheri Ducharme is the consummate educator. She embodies all that is good about teaching, learning, community health care, and civic engagement. I could not be happier for her or any more pleased for this appointment. I know that our donors are especially pleased.”

Responding to the announcement of Ducharme being appointed to the faculty chair named in her honor, Jean Simmons said, “Cheri has been a stabilizing force in the Associate Degree Nursing Program through the years, stepping up to a variety of challenges, mentoring, role-modeling, teaching, supervising, facilitating, and initiating change as well. She is an exceptional faculty member and has had an active role in the local community and internationally. Her Service Learning participation has facilitated far-reaching clinical and community health experiences with our nursing students in multicultural settings, including Navajo reservations and Haiti. She will ‘sit’ in the ‘Chair’ with integrity and I’m very pleased Cheri has been chosen for the inaugural ‘Simmons Chair’ honor.”

Jean Doherty Simmons holds an Associate of Science in Nursing from GCC, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing  from St. Anselm College, and a Master of Science in Nursing Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At GCC, she served as Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Acting Director-Nursing Program (1983-84, 1993-94), Professor (1990-2003), Coordinator-AD Nursing Program (1998-2003), and Service Learning Coordinator for the ADN Program (2003-2012), Professor Emeritus (2003-current).

Simmons has a long history of practice as a nurse. From 1975 to 1988, she worked at Farren Memorial Hospital in several roles, including as a Staff Nurse, Per Diem Charge Nurse, and Enterostomal Therapist. From 1988 to 2010, she served as a Consultant to the Education Department of Franklin Medical Center. In addition to her work in local hospitals, Simmons was active in Nursing Practice in a variety of settings, including serving as Staff Nurse at New England Deaconess Hospital (Boston), Office Nurse and Orthopedic Surgical Assistant for Dr. George Byram (Pensacola, FL), OR Nurse at Hartford Hospital (Perryville, MD), Visiting Nurse (San Diego, CA), and Utilization Review/Discharge Planning Co-ordinator at Kaiser (Vallejo, CA).

Funding the faculty chair created approximately $50,000 in annual payroll cost savings. The cost savings are being used to support a part-time Advisor position and a scholarship program. The Nursing Pathways Transitions Advisor facilitates student goal achievement in the nursing profession, working with students to help make the transitions between the different levels of nursing degree programs seamless. The direct scholarship program provides 23 scholarships each year to assist with the financial needs of students as they progress along the advancing nursing levels of certified nursing assistant, practical nurse, Registered Nurse and onto bachelors’ level preparation in nursing.

By Mary McClintock, ‘82

Students See State Government, Up Close and Personal

Students in GCC Professor Buz Eisenberg’s Political Science classes do more than read about state government, they meet the people who make the laws. On November 13, Eisenberg and 19 GCC students will travel to Representative Paul Mark’s 2nd Berkshire Day at the Massachusetts State House. They’ll join people from local government, education, business, labor, and cultural organizations to learn about what happens in the State House. They’ll hear presentations by Massachusetts legislative leaders, including the Speaker of the House, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Stan Rosenberg, Ben Downing, Steve Kulik, and others. Touring the State House, they’ll sit where the legislature sits and stand where the Speaker of the House stands. The GCC students also will get to know community leaders from Franklin and Berkshire counties.

Mark started the now-annual regional leadership conference in 2011 to increase collaboration in the region and to shed light on what happens at the State House. After attending the first conference, Eisenberg asked Mark to include GCC students. Since then, a wide range of students have attended the conference, including GCC Student Senators, veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and teenagers who are dual-enrolled from their high schools.

Mark said, “I love watching people from the district ask questions directly to high ranking officials and teach these officials more about our region. It’s a great learning experience for everyone involved. This is a great opportunity for GCC students to learn more about their government and to get interested in the legislative process. It is very important to me that tomorrow’s voters and leaders understand government is not a mysterious third party entity, it is a process by which everyone has a say in determining the direction of our society.”

Eisenberg said, “The students ask excellent questions and the leaders treat the students with respect. They develop a sense that they can hold their own while talking with community leaders and state dignitaries. The students get to understand how lives are impacted by what happens in this building. And, they learn the historical context, that 200 years ago, citizens were doing this. This is an example of Representative Mark’s unrelenting commitment to public higher education and GCC’s commitment to civic engagement.”

Victoria Damato, 36, from Athol participated in 2nd Berkshire Day while a student at GCC. She graduated from GCC in May with an Associate degree in Criminal Justice. Now studying Law and Society at Western New England University, Damato plans to attend law school in the future. She said, “The leaders we met were very open and made us feel like we were important. I’ve been in the United States for ten years. Coming from Poland, this is very different than anything that happens in Poland, where there is a big line drawn between citizens and people in government. For me, wanting to study law, it was powerful to sit where legislation is crafted. In the House Chamber, I became aware of the significance of what goes on there and felt the connectedness of the long history of legislation that has been brought forward in that very chamber. I also became more aware of the deeper responsibility that politicians embrace while in office. There are people you meet who have the power to transform and change your life by exposing you to something that would never have happened without them. Buz Eisenberg and Paul Mark have been that for me.”

For information about 2nd Berkshire Day, contact Representative Mark at paul.mark@mahouse.gov or (413) 464-5635 or (617) 722-2210.

 By Mary McClintock, ’82

# # #