Montgomery – More than 1,500 full-time faculty members from Alabama’s 24 community colleges convened at Alabama State University on Wednesday, April 10, for the Alabama Community College System’s (ACCS) inaugural statewide Professional Development Day.
As a part of the ACCS’s continued effort to build a more unified and collaborative system of colleges, the event brought together ACCS instructors from across the state for a full day of discussions and collaboration focused on the community college student experience.
Professional development days occur at each of Alabama’s community’s colleges within the calendar year. Wednesday marked the first in which each college was represented at a single, statewide event.
“This unified approach to professional development moves us another step closer to becoming one ACCS,” stated Jimmy H. Baker, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. “By sharing best practices, we can continue to raise the bar to ensure that every student has the same professional, valuable and memorable experience when they enter any one of our classrooms, whether it’s in-person or online.”
Dr. John Roueche, Sid Richardson Regents Chair Emeritus and Director of the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin, was the guest speaker for the morning session.
Dr. Roueche urged instructors to continue academic success by creating classroom environments in which all students know their value both as individuals and as students who have “chosen” to pursue community college.
“We are not teachers of history, or of mathematics,” he stated. “We are teachers of real, live students. The subjects we teach are hopefully a vehicle to motivate and excite students to learn more, but if students think for one moment that you care about them – and you take the time to know something about them – they’re much more likely to have an interest in what you’re teaching.
In the afternoon, instructors attended break-out sessions divided by areas of instruction. The smaller group meetings focused on implementing key course competencies into all ACCS courses as well as discussions on current trends and best practices within each discipline.
Chris Vrenna, a Music Technology instructor at Calhoun Community College, applauded the statewide professional development event.
“I think that anything that can make us better teachers is important,” he said. “I came from industry into my particular teaching field and one thing that I’ve always found is we’re all really good at what we teach, but sometimes no one really teaches you how to teach or how to be better at teaching and conveying knowledge. I find any of these type of professional developments super beneficial for me because I’m trying to grow and learn as well.”
Maria Willis, Language Arts Division Chair and an English instructor at Coastal Alabama Community College, said information provided on Wednesday gave her greater insight on regional and statewide strategies among the ACCS that clarify the message and mission of the community college.
“I have been in the System for 30 years. It’s been very encouraging to hear the ideas and the reinforcement of implementing care and encouragement in the classroom,” she said.
With 24 community colleges in more than 130 locations, the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) is Alabama’s gateway to first-class, affordable education and technical training to compete in a constantly evolving workforce. More than 168,000 Alabamians benefit from the various certification, credential, dual enrollment and degree programs ACCS offers alongside leading industry partners. The System includes the Alabama Technology Network, which provides extensive training and service offerings directly to business and industry. ACCS is governed by the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees.