Building Traditions

by Dr. Patrick Vaughn, Acting President, STLCC-Wildwood

Students participate in the production of "It's a Wondeful Life."

Students participate in the production of “It’s a Wondeful Life.”

Traditions are important to a community. This is true no matter the size, shape, the reason for the community’s existence, or how it came to exist. Traditions bring people together and give character to the group and the place where they gather.

Last week was full of traditions at the Wildwood campus: students stressing as they prepare for this week of finals, study groups, final projects, door and office decorating contests, a holiday get-together, and our annual radio play of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Friday’s production was our third annual presentation of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and some have suggested we do a different production next year (possibly “Miracle on 34th Street” or some other radio play). Those who participated in the production became a part of something that connects them with the traditions of our campus community.

Let us know if you would like us to change the title of our radio play for next year.

As students, faculty, and staff of STLCC – Wildwood  seek a successful end to this fall semester, they are participating in another tradition, this one shared with a worldwide community centered on the phenomenon called “Finals.”

Our students, faculty and staff are a part of something that connects them with the traditions of higher education: faculty setting challenges, all of us supporting the students, and the students in-turn meeting the challenges head-on of learning  in pursuit of their own personal successes.

Just as each audience member, support crew, and cast member of our radio play is a part of our campus tradition, the broader campus community also plays key roles in making the tradition of student success a reality.

“Break a leg” (it means good luck in theater speak) to everyone taking and giving finals this week. Have a great holiday break, and a stellar new year!

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Thanks and Giving

by Dr. Patrick Vaughn, Acting President, STLCC-Wildwood

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. I didn’t get back to family in Texas this year but my wife and I had a great dinner with good friends during a no-travel-turkey-day.

This year though, I added a new place to my list of favorites in and around Wildwood, MO – the Equine-Assisted Therapy center on 109, about two miles south of campus. As a major project for the year, the West St. Louis County Rotary Club chose to donate $10,000 and some volunteer labor to the E.A.T. The project for this year was to construct an office area within the new barn on their property.

Several Rotarians, including yours truly, spent the Friday after Thanksgiving hanging dry-wall in the new barn. And, did we ever hang some dry-wall. In fact we earned a new nickname; “The Drywall Dudes,” according to the folks at E.A.T. I am thankful that we had the opportunity to help such an important organization. Here is a little borrowed information from their Facebook page:

“Equine-Assisted Therapy, Inc. has but one purpose; that is to provide horsemanship experiences to persons with mental, physical, and psychological disabilities in order to enhance the quality and productivity of their lives. E.A.T. provides services to the St. Louis area disabled who are seeking an alternative, fun and effective form of therapy with horses.”

And, I would add “with donkeys too.” Two of the local “staff members” came up to check me out as I took their photo during a break in hanging dry-wall. They seemed very appreciative of their new digs.

Scrolling through the photos on their Facebook page, you can tell they touch the lives of so many in need directly through interaction with a host of kind and gentle animals. If you have the time please check them out at https://www.facebook.com/eatherapy. And, if you are interested in lending a hand sign up to volunteer. You will be thankful you did.

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A donkey at the Equine Assisted Therapy Center.

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Connecting Outdoor Treasures

by Dr. Patrick Vaughn, Acting President, STLCC-Wildwood

In the past I have shared photos on Facebook and by email of some rarely visited parts of our 132 acre campus. This week I thought I would share some images of what lies beyond campus. It was a cool weekend day in November when I decided to see if, in fact, I could hike from the St. Louis Community College – Wildwood Campus Trail to the Lime Kiln Trail on Rockwoods Reservation. My fifteen year old retriever, Gracie, expects a hike every weekend, and I am eager to increase my weekly steps for “Team X” of the Wildwood Walking Challenge, and of course, for my own health.

A map showing the proposed connector trail.

A map showing the proposed connector trail.

My exploration of the trails created by the Missouri Department of Conservation, St. Charles County Parks Department and St. Louis County Parks Department are well documented on my Facebook page, but this hike holds more promise than the rest. I developed a proposal this summer with Ranger Gus Raeker, the District Forester of the St. Louis Region, to connect the trails between Rockwoods Reservation and our campus. Gracie and I followed the path of the proposed trail, and  the changing leaves and crisp fall air added an ambiance to the trail that I had not yet experienced. The proposal is now in the hands of the state’s central office of the Missouri  Department of Conservation for consideration.

Besides proving that the hike is possible, Gracie and I discovered many unique things on the way. Deer are plentiful in the uninhabited parts of the campus and in Rockwoods Reservation. An eight (or more) point buck raced passed us as we entered the forest. The descent into a huge ravine that, to the south, becomes the base for Christy Avenue, is lined with giant stone formations; one that I nicknamed “twin rocks” looks like book-ends that in this case are holding a single tree in place. Along the way a turtle peeked out of its shell at the clumsy passers-by, and a knob on a tree looked surprisingly like a Moose.

Returning to campus the beautiful glow of fall colors lit up yet another valley full of cross-timbers, golden leaves, and sky-blue reflected off the bark of trees.

There are two local outdoor treasures located next to each other in this part of “West County:” Rockwoods Reservation and the St. Louis Community College – Wildwood campus. Here’s hoping we all have an opportunity to enjoy them fully.

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Making A Difference at STLCC-Wildwood

by Dr. Patrick Vaughn, Acting President, STLCC-Wildwood

“You Make a Difference”.

That is the name of our new recognition program at St. Louis Community College in Wildwood.

The goal is to recognize students, staff and faculty for helping others with advice and assisting on projects, while providing everyone with a more inclusive environment.

In addition to an already established once a year banquet and other special events, this effort encourages student recognition to occur daily, through the use of “You Make a Difference” cards and attached stickers.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to recognize any one on campus who helps them in a meaningful way by presenting them with a card and sticker.

The items are easily found, placed in baskets near gathering places on campus. Any member of the campus can fill in the back portion of the card as to how a student, staff or faculty member helped them that day. They then present it to the deserving person.

The hope is that anyone can participate in recognizing someone else on campus, and these materials are simply tools that provide a way to do it, and encouragement to take the opportunity to say, “Thank you.  You made a difference in my time here on the Wildwood campus.”

In addition to the stickers, a number of “You Make a Difference” thank you cards and envelopes have been created. These can be mailed or presented by the administrative staff to a faculty member or other employee. The goal is to provide a higher level of recognition than a standard email message.

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The program is gaining momentum. Dozens of “You Make a Difference” stickers have been worn and seen throughout the campus. Students are taking them home and showing them to parents and friends.

In addition to on-campus recognition, an objective of the program is to add positive reinforcement for the well-being of all those who call this their “campus home”.   We are hopeful this program sends a positive message to not only our students but their parents and friends as well.

What do you think? If you have thoughts or questions about our “You Make a Difference” initiative, please let us know. We are always accessible and open to discussion.

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STLCC Students are COMMITTED!

I am proud to report that the student leaders of STLCC pulled together an amazing campaign this semester promoting the importance of student success and degree completion. Wildwood’s own Jeannine Shaffer, president of Beta Rho Epsilon chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and Missouri Regional Vice President for 2012-13, chaired this effort on behalf of Phi Theta Kappa and Student Government. Over 4,000 students signed campus “Commit to Complete” banners over the last few weeks!

 This is the second year that Phi Theta Kappa has focused on the national “Commit to Complete” movement on our campuses. Our students realize that much of their motivation and success depends on their internal drive and on the people around them. They are working to remind each other that committing to a goal and sticking with it is key to their successes in life. There is also an economic imperative. Research shows that students who complete an Associate’s degree are more likely to complete their Bachelor’s degree than students who transfer with some college credits. Studies also show that a community college graduate earns about $400,000 more over a lifetime than someone with a high school diploma. I am so happy that our student leaders have realized how important it is to complete and help spread the message onto the campuses and into our community.

I am also proud to share that this year’s project included a focus on extending the impact of “Commit to Complete” beyond the banner signings. Our students gathered in Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis on September 28 to come together as a District and publicly declare the importance of their commitment. The rally was organized by a committee of students and staff led by Jeannine in planning the experience to highlight the national education crisis and provide a positive focal point for action – students COMMITTING to themselves, their communities and their education as the C4 Commit to Complete shirts proclaimed. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff attended the rally and listened to inspiring messages from Dr. Heather Wathington, Achieving the Dream data coach; Chancellor Dorsey; and Rod Risley, Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa International. Read more about the rally here and here. Check out the video recap put together by STLCC here.

Our students are rising to the challenge and now it is our turn — I hope that each faculty and staff member will join me in committing to help our students succeed. Be there when they need you — they may turn to you in times of stress or when they need inspiration to continue. They may just need an encouraging word about their academic work. Let them know all the effort is worth it, that THEY are worth it. After all, our mission is to change lives. It’s why we are all here. So, commit today to changing the lives of the students you see on campus each day!

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STLCC-Wildwood students and alumni were part of the crowd at the Commit to Complete Rally on Sept. 28 in Kiener Plaza.

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Ryan “Riley B” Bell, who served for two years at Wildwood Student Government Association Vice President performing his new song “Commit to Complete” at the campus 50th Anniversary BBQ. He got everyone on their feet again at the big rally in Kiener Plaza with his original song packing a powerful message!

 

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STLCC Wildwood Commit to Complete 2012

STLCC Wildwood Commit to Complete 2012

Students signing the Wildwood campus “Commit to Complete” banner at the 50th Anniversary BBQ.

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Earth Day = Every Day

As we look toward Earth Day this year, and the ASID Expo on our campus Saturday, I think a lot about what we do EVERY day that is important to protect and sustain our environment. I am truly proud to be part of a green that has a focus on sustainability built directly into it, even from the early design stage.

It is important that we honor the College’s commitment to sustainability with our actions. All of the green efficiencies built into the campus – from the daylight harvesting feature in classrooms, to the automatic lighting and the green roof – do not make enough of a difference. We can’t take them for granted. It is the job of the every person on campus to bring the commitment to life through every day actions. We do that by recycling our used paper, bottles and cans. We also do that by carrying our commitment into programming for events and lessons in the classroom. We can commit to reducing uses of paper on campus by using Blackboard and through the upcoming document imaging project that will digitize many student records.

Our campus Earth Day event is “Celebrating Sustainable Design” held in partnership with the American Society of Interior Designers. Everyone is welcome to attend the event on campus from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday (April 21). It will feature vendors, a lecture series and campus tours. I also encourage everyone to participate in the St. Louis 2012 Earth Day Festival on Sunday (April 22) from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. It will be held on the Muny grounds in Forest Park and features a Green Job Opportunities Fair, 200+ vendors, live music and hands-on activities. There is a special Recycling Extravaganza at STLCC-Forest Park on Sunday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in conjunction with the Earth Day Festival. You can drop off junk items in this hard-to-recycle collection event, including medications, computers, appliances, musical instruments, tools, Styrofoam, blinds, etc. Plan for your spring cleaning this weekend and then drop by the Earth Day Festival in Forest Park.

The national recycling competition, Recyclemania, wrapped up last week. I am very pleased to announce that the final standings were just published and Wildwood has a lot to be proud of! STLCC-Wildwood is #20 in the Grand Champion category out of 605 colleges and universities participating in the Competition Division of Recyclemania this year.  Even better, in the Paper Recycling category we are ranked at a stunning #8 out of all the competing schools. I am so happy that our efforts make such an amazing difference. Even small changes can make a huge difference in the impact we have on the world around us.

So, now that Recyclemania is over for the year and Earth Day 2012 will be quickly behind us, I want to issue a challenge. Don’t let your actions stop here. The environment is in dire need of all the help we can give. Our future generations are depending on us to preserve the Earth for them. Please join me in pledging to do more to make a difference this year. If you already recycle, help with efforts to get others to recycle more too. Join a Stream Team and help clean up our area. Turn your thermostat up a couple of degrees this summer to save energy. Volunteer to help at the Electronics Recycling event held on campus next month. There are so many ways you can make change…find at least one new thing to try and make sure that the impact of Earth Day extends throughout the year, both on our campus and in our homes.

 

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