(Part I: This is the first part of a welcome speech delivered at DACC Convocation on Monday, August 18, 2014. Part II will appear tomorrow)
Thursday, August 21 marks the first day of classes at DACC. We stand before a new semester with new opportunities, new challenges and new students. The beginning of the semester is a time to refocus. Here at DACC we need to commit to student LEARNING being first and foremost. Student LEARNING is not just the faculty's focus, it is all of our focus. Each and everyone of us must realize that our mission is focused on student learning. Consider for a moment:
1. The building and maintenance employee who stepped his or her task to help a student learn where the Student Resource Building is located.
2. The financial aid employee, assisting a potential student or a returning student, helps that student learn about their financial aid obligations.
3. The librarian who helps a student learn how to be more efficient in utilizing an Internet search to find resources for their class project - resources other than Wikipedia.
4. And yes, the instructors in our credit and non-credit courses who naturally come to mind when we think about student learning.
Each and every interaction with a student should be focused on their learning. Helping students learn context, learn about themselves, learn about processes, learn skills, and even learn the appropriate behavior in a college setting.
Underlying this focus on student learning is also our own LEARNING. One must learn before one can teach or mentor. Each and every one of us must realize we must attend to our own learning each and every day. Consider for a moment:
1. We must each learn about the policies, procedures and processes that govern our job. Just because something has always been done that way doesn't mean it is consistent with policy and procedure. Take time to review policies and procedures to ensure we are following them appropriately.
2. Financial Aid personnel are continually learning about changes in federal financial aid rules. Some of those changes impact each of us. Recent changes in the Cleary Act for example require us to complete training on the Campus SaVE Act.
3. We must learn about our students and initiatives through becoming data literate. Examining data will help us recognize trends to assist us in becoming proactive rather than reactive.
4. We must learn about best practices in our areas so we can be prepared to engage in continually improvement in order to ensure student learning remains first and foremost a priority.
So....I ask employees of DACC to make a commitment to student learning first and foremost. Additionally, I ask employees of DACC to make a commitment to their own learning in order to ensure that we continue to advance the mission of DACC.