Tuesday, February 17, 2015

We made a difference

The last 30 days at Northwest College have made a difference in our students’ lives. The rigors of engaging their minds and their bodies in higher learning has helped them grow. But there’s another difference. I believe many of our students feel more comfortable with themselves, more connected to NWC and to their academic goals, thanks to staff members who reached out to them this past month.

The challenge stories you’ve shared with me only make me want to hear more. So much so, I’ve decided to find a way to facilitate storytelling at Northwest. Our student experiences are inspirational. We need to celebrate them. You’ll hear more about this idea as it develops later this semester.

Until then, here are a couple of stories that came out of the 30-day Student Engagement Challenge. If they make you think of your experiences, please share them with me.

Most of you probably know Renee Reel, an online adjunct instructor who now lives in Florida. She really went the extra mile for the challenge. She emailed to tell me she took the initiative of setting up a Skype meeting with a student who has disabilities and needed some “face-to-face” support. Even though they were 1,200 miles apart, Renee said the verbal and nonverbal communication via Skype helped them create a connection they couldn’t have had otherwise. Renee is now determined to make more of an effort to connect with students on Skype or Hangouts.

Another employee who works in ORB told me in the past he silently walked by work study students every morning as they cleaned the halls with their earbuds in, listening to music. Thinking about the challenge, he stopped one morning and said hi. “I think I scared them.….I don’t like mornings.”

Whether the student you reached out to was scared or smiling, thanks for making a difference.

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