Missouri Community College Association http://mccatoday.org Advocacy for Missouri's public two-year institutions Fri, 06 Mar 2015 16:36:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SCC to celebrate Women’s History Month in March http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/scc-to-celebrate-womens-history-month-in-march-2/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/scc-to-celebrate-womens-history-month-in-march-2/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:16:47 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9443 St. Charles Community College will host a series of events to celebrate Women’s History Month this March. The events are free and open to the public.

All activities will take place in the auditorium of the Daniel J. Conoyer Social Sciences Building unless otherwise noted.

“Killing Us Softly 4” Film
10 a.m. Tuesday, March 24
A viewing of Jean Kilbourne’s groundbreaking Killing Us Softly 4 followed by an interactive discussion concerning media, advertising and gender stereotyping.

Photo Booth and “Take it Off” Station
11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, March 24
In conjunction with student speaker Asyntha Sandberg’s presentation, SCC will have a free photo booth and “Take it Off” Station available for individuals to take off their makeup and get their picture taken in the photo booth. This is the perfect opportunity to see what Asyntha experienced and to embrace your inner beauty.

SCC Student Speaker: Asyntha Sandberg – One Semester Without Makeup
1 p.m. Tuesday, March 24SCC student Asyntha Sandberg will share her experience of going without makeup for one full semester. The presentation will be followed by a discussion and Q&A.

Speaker: Andi Zeisler – Talking Back 101 Workshop
10 a.m. Wednesday, March 25A workshop identifying bias, bad framing and sexism in media and pop culture and how to respond strategically.

Between the Covers Book Club
2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, in the Learning Resource Center Information Commons
Join Between the Covers Book Club as they discuss their March book, Alice + Freda Forever by Alexis Coe.

Speaker: Andi Zeisler – Don’t Just Change the Channel: Why Pop Culture Matters to Feminism, Activism and Social Justice
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 25
A stock response to complaints about offensive and demeaning representation of women and others in popular media is often, “Well, just change the channel! You don’t have to watch that show/read that book/see that movie.” This presentation discusses why that line of thinking ignores the reality of how much media and pop culture permeate every aspect of our lives, and offers an overview of media and pop culture as a point of feminist activism.

The college is located at 4For more information on the events celebrating Women’s History Month, contact Mandi Smith at asmith@stchas.edu.

For accommodation information, email accessibilityservice@stchas.edu.

St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.

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SCC Student Film Festival accepting entries for March festival http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/scc-student-film-festival-accepting-entries-for-march-festival/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/scc-student-film-festival-accepting-entries-for-march-festival/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:12:39 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9439 Area high school and SCC students are encouraged to enter in St. Charles Community College’s Student Film Festival in March. The deadline to submit entries is 5 p.m. Monday, March 9.

“Some students might have already made something in the past year that they could submit – a short film for a school project or just a movie they made with friends,” said Darren Osburn, film festival coordinator and SCC communication professor. “We encourage students to enter those movies in the festival for a chance to win money.”

Students can submit films for the following categories:

Documentary (10 minutes or less): A presentation that records actual living characters and settings and/or details historical or current events. Infomercials, public relations videos and promotional films are not eligible.

Comedy Shorts (9 minutes or less): Original or minimally inspired works of comedy. The film should challenge, entertain and/or provoke.

Drama Shorts (9 minutes or less): Original or minimally inspired works of drama. The film should challenge, entertain and/or provoke.

Music Video (5 minutes or less): Non-narrative work set to a single piece of music that captures the essence of the sound in a form of a story or creative output. May include minimal footage from other sources.

Experimental/Animation (6 minutes or less): All remaining genres of programs including, but not limited to, animation, experimental, computer graphics, special effects and stop-frame techniques. All footage must be original.

For submission guidelines or to download an entry form, go to stchas.edu/filmfestival. Financial prizes will be awarded to the winners of each category, the overall winner and the audience favorite. All entries will receive feedback from judges and some screen time during the awards ceremony, and the winners will be screened in their entirety.

The awards ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, in the auditorium of the Daniel J. Conoyer Social Sciences Building on the SCC campus.

For more information, contact Darren Osburn at 636-922-8564 or dosburn@stchas.edu.

St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.

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Educators Urged to Build Coalitions to Advance Community Colleges http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/educators-urged-to-build-coalitions-to-advance-community-colleges/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/educators-urged-to-build-coalitions-to-advance-community-colleges/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:09:35 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9435 St. Louis Community College officials met with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill  (D-Mo.), second from left, during the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit. STLCC representatives joining McCaskill are, from left, Doris Graham, vice chair of the STLCC Board of Trustees; Dennis Michaelis, STLCC’s interim chancellor; and Craig Larson, chair of the STLCC Board of Trustees.

St. Louis Community College officials met with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), second from left, during the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit. STLCC representatives joining McCaskill are, from left, Doris Graham, vice chair of the STLCC Board of Trustees; Dennis Michaelis, STLCC’s interim chancellor; and Craig Larson, chair of the STLCC Board of Trustees.

President Barack Obama’s free community college plan was the main topic of discussion at this year’s Community College National Legislative Summit. Nearly 1,000 community college trustees, chancellors and presidents gathered in Washington D.C., Feb. 9-12, for their annual advocacy conference, sponsored by the Association of Community College Trustees.

“We heard constant conversation from both sides of the political spectrum around how to take the next step in this initiative,” said STLCC Board Chair Craig Larson, who attended the conference with fellow board member Doris Graham, and STLCC Interim Chancellor Dennis F. Michaelis.  “No one argues about increasing the focus on the importance of going to school for two years beyond high school,” he said. “But the issue of how to pay for it is the question.”

STLCC representatives Craig Larson, left, and Dennis Michaelis, right, also met with U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) during the Community College National Legislative Summit

STLCC representatives Craig Larson, left, and Dennis Michaelis, right, also met with U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) during the Community College National Legislative Summit

Larson said a “K-14” system, which extends a free public education to two years past high school, would be a “real game changer” in the long run – particularly for older students, such as single parents, who could use their Pell grants to pay their living expenses while in school.
“The kernel of this idea is to remove the hurdles that people face in going back to college,” he said, noting that the current proposal is to cover anyone who qualifies as a “responsible student” with a 2.5 grade point average or better, and not just recent high school graduates.

“It’s a nice sweetener to be able to tell students that they have another two years to hone their skills after high school,” added Larson.

Larson, Graham and Michaelis also met with U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to advocate for Pell Grants, and met with aides for U.S. Representatives Ann Wagner (Mo.-Dist. 2) and William Lacy Clay Jr. (Mo.-Dist. 1). In conversations with the Missouri congressional delegation, STLCC officials emphasized the importance of extending Pell Grant availability to students studying in programs that also require summer attendance.

While community college leaders are hopeful that President Obama’s free community college plan will survive legislative scrutiny, educators were cautioned that it could take time. James Kvaal, deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, urged community college leaders to “take the long view” and continue their advocacy efforts at the federal, state, local and philanthropic levels.

Second Lady Jill Biden, a longtime community college English professor, said the Obama administration will build a coalition of lawmakers, philanthropists and higher education leaders to continue efforts to advance community colleges.

“This is the moment for community colleges to shine,” she said.

Click here to hear Mrs. Biden’s full remarks at the summit.

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ECC to Name Building in Honor of Founding President http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/ecc-to-name-building-in-honor-of-founding-president/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/ecc-to-name-building-in-honor-of-founding-president/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 19:42:49 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9428 Dr. Don Shook, founding president  of East Central College

Dr. Don Shook, founding president of East Central College

The East Central College board of trustees unanimously resolved at their March 2 meeting to rename the Multipurpose Building after Dr. Don Shook.  Shook was ECC’s first and longest serving president.

A naming policy instituted in 2009 states that the board may consider naming honors for an individual who had a significant, lasting and measurable impact on the college.  Board president Jim Perry noted that it’s appropriate to honor Shook in this manner based on his long-term commitment to the college.

Shook was hired in August of 1968 to lead East Central Junior College; a position he would hold for the next 18 years.  During that time enrollment grew from 470 when the first classes started in September of 1969 to 2,973 students in the fall of 1986.

“The original trustees hired the right person when they selected Don Shook to be the first president,” noted Jim Perry, president of the ECC board of trustees.  “Don Shook was responsible for hiring the charter faculty and took on countless other tasks involved with the day to day operations of a new institution.  He was instrumental in the growth of the college from its earliest days in temporary facilities through selection of a permanent campus site and the construction of four major buildings.”

Perry stated that Shook was also instrumental in establishing the ECC Foundation in 1975.  “It is truly fitting that one of the early buildings erected on the Union campus be named after ECC’s first president,” Perry stated.  “This is a well-deserved honor.”

“I am very pleased the board took this step and enabled the college and community to honor one of the most influential individuals in the history of ECC,” stated College ECC President Jon Bauer.

Shook worked in higher education for more than 30 years.  He was president at Crowder College for four years prior to being selected as  president at East Central.  He left ECC in 1986 to serve as the founding president at St. Charles County Community College.

A ceremony will be planned to honor Shook and formally rename the facility later this year. The multi-use building currently houses the gymnasium, cafeteria, bookstore, fitness center, locker rooms classrooms, as well as offices for faculty, staff and student organizations.

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STLCC Faculty, Staff Earn Roueche Excellence Awards http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/stlcc-faculty-staff-earn-roueche-excellence-awards/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/03/stlcc-faculty-staff-earn-roueche-excellence-awards/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:21:10 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9372 Howard Rosenthal, center, and Nancy Pea, second from right, recently were recognized at the St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees meeting for receiving the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards. Also pictured are, from left, Craig Larson, STLCC board chair; Ruby Curry, interim president at STLCC-Florissant Valley; and Dennis Michaelis, STLCC interim chancellor. Other award winners who are not pictured are Patricia Barnes, Anne Marie Mosher, Tom Rogers, Dan Yezbick, Christie Cohoon, Dennis Dufer, Suzzie Huff, Amanda White and Afzal Lodhi.

Howard Rosenthal, center, and Nancy Pea, second from right, recently were recognized at the St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees meeting for receiving the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards. Also pictured are, from left, Craig Larson, STLCC board chair; Ruby Curry, interim president at STLCC-Florissant Valley; and Dennis Michaelis, STLCC interim chancellor. Other award winners who are not pictured are Patricia Barnes, Anne Marie Mosher, Tom Rogers, Dan Yezbick, Christie Cohoon, Dennis Dufer, Suzzie Huff, Amanda White and Afzal Lodhi.

Eleven members of the St. Louis Community College faculty and staff have earned awards for teaching and leadership.

The John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards were established in 2012 by the League for Innovation in the Community College in recognition of the long tradition of excellence in community college teaching and leadership.

Florissant Valley recipients are Patricia Barnes, manager of assessment; Anne Marie Mosher, professor of mathematics;  Nancy Pea, associate professor of nursing; and Howard Rosenthal, professor of human services.

Forest Park recipients are Tom Rogers, copy technician in auxiliary services; and Dan Yezbick, professor of English.

Meramec award winners are Christie Cohoon, assistant professor in physical therapist assistant program; Dennis Dufer, associate professor of communications;  Suzzie Huff, academic advisor; and Amanda White, associate professor of sociology.

The Wildwood recipient is Afzal Lodhi, professor of science.

John E. and Suanne D. Roueche, leaders in the community college field and early proponents of the idea that teachers have major responsibility for how well students perform in the classroom, have been partners and friends of the League for Innovation in the Community College for more than 35 years. What began as a working relationship with the founders of the league has evolved into a full-fledged partnership through collaborative efforts on projects of mutual interest and national concern.

The Roueche Excellence Awards are open to League alliance member institutions to celebrate outstanding contributions and leadership by community college faculty and staff.

 

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STLCC-Florissant Valley’s Homeplate Prepares for Spring http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/stlcc-florissant-valleys-homeplate-prepares-for-spring/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/stlcc-florissant-valleys-homeplate-prepares-for-spring/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:49:00 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9338 Mark Manteuffel speaks to a group of students at Homeplate.

Mark Manteuffel speaks to a group of students at Homeplate.

Spring training is just around the bend and as MLB players prepare for baseball season in Arizona and Florida, dedicated volunteers are preparing to report for duty at Homeplate.

Homeplate is the eco-garden at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley. It also is a learning-centered initiative that grows healthy, sustainable organic food for the campus and community while providing learning, service, training and leadership opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the broader community.

The sustainable, organic garden is a living laboratory where lessons are drawn from real-life experiences rather than textbook examples, allowing individuals to become active participants in the learning process. All food grown is available to participants and distributed to local food banks to support those in need.

Mark Manteuffel, Ph.D., professor of biology at Florissant Valley, is the brainchild of this project.

“We hope that we are able to donate significant amounts of fresh, organic vegetables and herbs to local food pantries,” said Manteuffel. “We are also hosting a Food Summit on campus, with the theme of food justice.”

The Florissant Valley campus will host its inaugural Food Summit on April 22. Participants will explore subjects such as food justice, food sovereignty, food deserts, the metabolic rift, urban agriculture and permaculture, community gardens and cooperatives, among other topics. Student presentations will be a central feature of this event. Manteuffel said the Food Summit is part of the ongoing Sustainable Food Systems program at Florissant Valley.

“In addition to all that we have going on, we are now working with Hamilton Heights Neighborhood to donate fresh produce,” Manteuffel added.

Hamilton Heights Neighborhood Organization Inc. is a non-profit agency in St. Louis City that serves seniors in the neighborhoods of Wells-Goodfellow, Hamilton Heights, Mark Twain Industrial 1-70, and the community at large. The seniors in the program are low income and face challenges such as expensive medical costs, high utilities, transportation problems, rent and other factors.

The group recently received a grant from Community Development Administration to create an “EduGarden” for seniors and the disabled. The garden that they are starting is unable to service 115 seniors, so the group turned to Homeplate for help. “St. Louis Area Food Bank provides pre-packed food boxes to distribute to 115 seniors, but the boxes do not contain fresh fruits or fresh vegetables,” said Jean Gardner, program coordinator at Hamilton Heights Neighborhood Organization Inc.

Homeplate plans to donate a mixed variety of wholesome and delicious fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits to ensure that the seniors get a balanced meal.

Last year Homeplate attracted 33 volunteers and produced more than 440 pounds of vegetables and fruit.

Established in 1962, St. Louis Community College is the largest community college district in Missouri and one of the largest in the United States. STLCC has four campuses – Florissant Valley, Forest Park, Meramec and Wildwood – that annually serve nearly 70,000 students through credit courses, continuing education and workforce development programs.  For more information about STLCC, visit www.stlcc.edu.

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Carter Shares Unique Perspective on St. Louis Racial Divide with STLCC Students http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/carter-shares-unique-perspective-on-st-louis-racial-divide-with-stlcc-students/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/carter-shares-unique-perspective-on-st-louis-racial-divide-with-stlcc-students/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:45:43 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9334 Terrell Carter discusses one of his paintings.

Terrell Carter discusses one of his paintings.

Local artist and former police officer Terrell Carter recently shared his life story and experiences as a St. Louis police officer with students at St. Louis Community College during a recent lecture to commemorate African-American History Month.

Carter’s experiences are the subject of his latest book, “Walking the Blue Line: A Police Officer Turned Community Activist Provides Solutions to the Racial Divide.” It is available for purchase on Kindle and through Barnes and Noble.

When Carter and his twin brother were born, his mother was just 16 years old. They were raised in the Ville Neighborhood behind Sumner High School, in the home of his paternal grandparents, who took over their care after his mother was murdered when he was just 7 years old.

At 14, his father came back into his life and moved Carter and his brother to Gatesville, Texas. That move changed the course of their lives.

“During that time, we were away from the things are friends experienced in St. Louis; the gangs, the bad influences. I was an artist. My brother was a writer. The creative aspects of our lives were nurtured in high school,” said Carter.

When the Carter brothers moved back to St. Louis after high school, they found that being black teenagers in St. Louis was a much different experience than living in Texas.

“We were two totally different men than who we were when we left. We were nerds. That’s the best way to describe us: two kids who believed in God and our talents,” Carter said. “The problem was that people in St. Louis didn’t understand us. They thought they had us completely figured out. And what they thought they knew about us wasn’t who we were.”

After moving back to St. Louis, Carter studied art under the guidance of Mark Weber at STLCC-Forest Park. He later earned a bachelor’s degree, and then worked a construction job and a part-time job at Builder’s Square.

“I was trying to figure out a way to take care of my family. I was doing what I needed to do to make ends meet. And I literally prayed and asked God to open a door for me to get a [better] job, and two days later I heard a commercial for St. Louis City Police,” Carter said. “I had not had a positive experience with police before. I had one friend who had a positive experience with a police officer, and that was because his father was the police officer. I called him and asked him what he thought. He outlined some good things and not so good things. And I applied and I got into the Police Academy three months later.”

He was stationed in St. Louis’ Third District, also known as “The Bloody Third,” because of the violence there.

“Life patrolling the streets was not fun,” Carter described. “There are only so many things they can tell you or show you in the academy. You have to learn the rest of it face to face. And the things that I learned were not necessarily good things or happy things.”

When his four year old told his caretakers at the daycare center he attended that his father was unhappy because of his work, Carter realized the dramatic impact it was having on his life.

“The job began to weigh on me and change me and made me rethink what I was doing,” he said.

Carter used his talents and training as an artist to deal with the stress he encountered every day. After losing a fellow police officer in a shooting, he created a series of portraits of officers, including a self-portrait entitled “Atlas.”

Ultimately, Carter decided to leave the police force, and just a few months after receiving his Masters of Fine Arts degree, he began working at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park as an art instructor. He blogs on Ethics Daily, and began to write about the racial divide in St. Louis after the shooting death of Michael Brown.

In his book, Carter proposes 12 points for police and citizens to ponder. He believes that citizens should not allow the media to “spoon feed” stories that make people hate one another. He notes that police departments need to help police officers deal with the stress caused by their daily experiences. He also believes citizens need to learn why and when they should call 9-1-1. He observed that people need to learn how to talk with one another.

“We need to figure out a way for people to have a clear, open dialogue with each other. Police officers and citizens, we’ve got to figure out a way to talk and get these things out,” Carter said. “And there’s a difference between talking together, and I’m not against protesting, but when you’re yelling, my question is, ‘Have you said anything?’ It doesn’t help understanding.”

Established in 1962, St. Louis Community College is the largest community college district in Missouri and one of the largest in the United States.  STLCC has four campuses – Florissant Valley, Forest Park, Meramec and Wildwood – that annually serve nearly 70,000 students through credit courses, continuing education and workforce development programs.  For more information about STLCC, visit www.stlcc.edu.

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STLCC Officials Visit Capitol Hill http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/stlcc-officials-visit-capitol-hill/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/stlcc-officials-visit-capitol-hill/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 19:41:49 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9162 McCaskill_webSt. Louis Community College officials today met with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), second from left, in Washington, D.C., during the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit. STLCC representatives joining McCaskill are, from left, Doris Graham, vice chair of the STLCC Board of Trustees; Dennis Michaelis, STLCC’s interim chancellor; and Craig Larson, chair of the STLCC Board of Trustees. The summit annually attracts more than 1,000 community college trustees, administrators, students and others who advocate on education, workforce training and economic development policy issues debated in Congress. College representatives have the opportunity to meet with their respective congressional delegates to discuss current policy issues.

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STLCC’s Holcomb Eclipses 1,000-Point Plateau in Win over Three Rivers http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/stlccs-holcomb-eclipses-1000-point-plateau-in-win-over-three-rivers/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/stlccs-holcomb-eclipses-1000-point-plateau-in-win-over-three-rivers/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:12:16 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9158 STLCC sophomore Deborah Holcomb scored her 1,000th career point in their win over Three Rivers Feb. 11.

STLCC sophomore Deborah Holcomb scored her 1,000th career point in their win over Three Rivers Feb. 11.

In what has become almost an annual tradition for the St. Louis Community College women’s basketball team under head coach Shelly Ethridge, the Archers collected their 20th victory of the year Wednesday in an 87-67 rout of Three Rivers Community College.

The victory was highlighted by sophomore guard Deborah Holcomb, who entered the game just 15 points shy of 1,000 for her Archers career. The Denton, Tex., native reached the milestone on a free throw just 11 minutes into the game. Holcomb finished the evening with a game-high 28 points. She becomes the first-ever Archers player to surpass the 1,000-point plateau.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Holcomb said following Wednesday’s game. “It feels like I’m progressing, but it doesn’t feel like I’m ‘there’ yet.”

Wednesday’s milestone was simply the latest in a year that has placed Holcomb into the conversation as an NJCAA All-American. She entered Wednesday averaging 25.1 points per game, good for second-best in the nation.

“It’s really impressive, because it’s hard to score 500 points for two seasons,” Ethridge said of her star guard. “I’m just really blessed to be able to coach a player like that.”

The real honor she hopes to achieve, however, is a trip to the NJCAA Tournament. The Archers made back-to-back appearances in the tournament prior to Holcomb’s arrival on campus, but lost in the Region XVI title game last year, when Holcomb was a freshman.

“We’ve become a family now, and the game feels better now,” Holcomb said. “Two weeks ago, we’re just upset after a loss, and now we just know what we’re doing. Everything we do is a buildup. Our coaches have helped us to realize that at the end, we put everything we’ve worked on together. We have to define our system, and I think that’s what’s working for us.”

Wednesday’s win marked the third time in the past four seasons that STLCC has reached 20 victories.

The Archers (20-6 overall, 3-2 Region XVI) are a combined 77-29 under Ethridge since the 2011-12 season.

Up next for the Archers will be a trip to Cottey College on Saturday, before concluding the regular season with consecutive Region XVI games at Wentworth Military Academy (Feb. 17) and at home against Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley (Feb. 21).

Established in 1962, St. Louis Community College is the largest community college district in Missouri and one of the largest in the United States. STLCC has four campuses – Florissant Valley, Forest Park, Meramec and Wildwood – and annually serves nearly 70,000 students through credit courses, continuing education and workforce development programs. For more information about STLCC, visit www.stlcc.edu.

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STLCC Students Learn about the Reality of Homelessness among Rockwood Students, Vow to Help http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/stlcc-students-learn-about-the-reality-of-homelessness-among-rockwood-students-vow-to-help/ http://mccatoday.org/2015/02/stlcc-students-learn-about-the-reality-of-homelessness-among-rockwood-students-vow-to-help/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:06:29 +0000 http://mccatoday.org/?p=9155 Wildwood students created posters to draw attention to a food drive on campus to support the "Got Your Backpack" program for youngsters in the Rockwood School District.

Wildwood students created posters to draw attention to a food drive on campus to support the “Got Your Backpack” program for youngsters in the Rockwood School District.

In the “Equity in Education” class at St. Louis Community College-Wildwood, students were shown two pictures side by side. One is of a man sitting on the street in front of a grocery cart. The other is of two young children holding hands, with backpacks.

“We ask our students to point out which of these pictures shows a person who is homeless,” said Maureen Smith, a first grade teacher at Rockwood School District’s Fairway Elementary School who recently visited the class. “Most often, they point to the man with the grocery cart. Then we tell them that both pictures are examples of homelessness.”

Smith, with the help of her colleague Suzanne Dotta, founded Rockwood’s “Got Your Backpack” program.  The program provides food to 115 students in the Rockwood School District each week. Each student receives a bag of food on Fridays to last through the weekend.

Smith approached Dotta and Terry Harris, Rockwood’s coordinator of educational equity and diversity, during a break at a district meeting that was held at the STLCC campus a few years ago. “I wanted to move more slowly, but Maureen pushed me to get it going right away,” Harris said. “We started with 10 students.”

Smith has been the driving force behind the program.

“Truthfully, this program is successful because Maureen is one-thousand percent behind its success,” Harris said.

Getting It off the Ground

The pantry is housed at Fairway Elementary where she teaches, and parents from the PTO there volunteer to make it work. Smith and her husband provided resources for the grocery items and to build pantry shelves to get the program off the ground, and continue to be enthusiastic advocates and supporters for the program and those it helps.

“All great educators can tell who the students in need are in the building. If you pay attention, you can tell,” Harris said. “The students might wear the same clothes every day. They might have discipline problems. They might not be able to concentrate because they are hungry. Sometimes the students we are helping tell a friend who also needs help. We also work with counselors and social workers, but it is all confidential.”

Smith said that nobody at the schools knows who receives the backpacks except the counselors who help the students.

Although the program has grown quickly, Harris isn’t completely satisfied. “The ones I lose sleep over are the kids we don’t find,” Harris said. “We’ve identified 300 students who are homeless in the district, but there are probably 600 who need help. These are the kids who hide their situation. They’re doing a decent job of staying clean. They’re smart. They are doing okay in school. There’s a system to find kids, but we’re not even close to finding some of them.”

He explained that being homeless doesn’t necessarily mean being on the street. “’Homeless’ means not residing in a fixed, adequate housing unit. So these students could be sleeping on a couch at a friend’s house or at an aunt’s house. We know we have about 20 students who spend time in shelters.”

Education Is the Great Equalizer

Most of the students who benefit from the program are enrolled in a federal program to ensure that they are fed at school during the week. However, they may not have food when they go home on the weekends. The program is designed to help students so they can learn and turn their situations around.

“Education is the great equalizer,” Harris said. “Whatever we may think, it’s important to understand the difference between living in poverty and being poor. Poor is not having a lot of money or barely making it through. Poverty is systemic. It goes from generation to generation, and it’s a condition that takes a lot to overcome. Sixty percent of children of poor families live with parents who have less than a high school education. “

Harris noted that even if the parents get a job, their situation may not change. Some of the parents may have jobs, but they don’t have enough money to pay their bills and buy food.

“We’re trying to break that cycle” he said. “We see these students having problems with testing, health, illnesses and absences. We are trying to target those kids who are struggling and need food. If you’re hungry, you can’t concentrate. You can’t learn.  We want to help them so they can be successful in school.”

Some of the STLCC students had not thought about generational poverty and didn’t realize that homelessness was as prevalent as it is. They were surprised to find out how many kids in Rockwood were homeless.

Smith said they give out 10 to 12 items of food to each student. “We provide them with food that is easy to prepare. We try to give students non-perishable food in its own container. We’re not sure if all of the students have access to refrigerators or stoves,” Smith said. “The amount of food in the pantry varies since it’s stocked entirely through donations. Sometimes we get down to very little. We want our community to know that every donation counts. A donation of 5 to 10 items makes a difference. ”

Community Partners

In addition to the donations they receive from groups and individuals, the program also partners with Dierberg’s in Wildwood, Ellisville Farmer’s Market, and Lucky’s Market. They get items like milk and oatmeal from Operation Food Search. Dierberg’s keeps a cart in the front of its store for daily donations.

Harris asked each of the students in the class what they intended to do after graduating. He told them that all of them would see the problem of poverty in their future jobs. “Three of you are going into education. You may think that you won’t see the problem if you teach in a place like Rockwood,” Harris said. “Rockwood is lucky compared to other districts, but we still have students who are in need.”

The class was moved to take action and is conducting a food drive to benefit the program.

“The presentation showed me that anyone can make a difference and be a huge help. Hearing the story of how the Backpack program came to be was inspiring and makes me want to take action,” Milena Davis said.

Student Emily Freeman agreed. “The presentation was very inspiring. It’s nice to know that people really care. I feel like the food drive is just a step of kindness.”

The drive will run from now through Feb. 24.  Donations (http://www.rockwood.k12.mo.us/news/Pages/01212012GotYourBackpack.aspx) can be brought to the lobby of STLCC-Wildwood or any Rockwood school.

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