Friday, September 12, 2014

From an Admissions' Interview to my classroom - an amazing journey.

Four years ago I interviewed a young woman and her Mom - she had been awarded a Book Award from SMC and that plus subsequent mailings from St. Mike's had piqued her interest.  Her Mom had once lived in Stowe and thought her daughter might like Vermont.  I was asked to interview her because she had expressed an interest in Psychology and because all of the Admission Counselors were out on the road.  We had a very nice conversation and she explained that she had cancer when she was younger - that comment resulted in my sharing that Saint Michael's College has had a long standing and wonderful relationship with Camp Ta-Kum-Ta (TKT) which is a local camp for kids with cancer.  We finished the interview and I wrote up my notes indicating that I thought that she was wonderful and someone who would fit in well with SMC.

Unbeknownst to me, they returned to Florida and the next day the young woman called the Camp and spoke with Hattie Johnson (an SMC alum) about possibly getting involved with Camp.

Fast forward four years and Bri, now an active member of our community, a member of our Fire and Rescue Squad and a senior psychology major is enrolled in MY Practicum course.  We drove to So. Hero yesterday afternoon to talk with Ted Kessler, Executive Director and Hattie Johnson, Director of Development to talk about how Bri can spend her required 8 - 10 hours per week at TKT.  Brianna Atkins is going to be spending her time with special projects, programming AND quality time with kids with cancer and their families.

As we drove back to campus, Bri reminded me of that initial meeting and interview in our Admission Office four years ago - I guess some things just are meant to be!!!!!

The picture is of the newly completed chapel on site in So. Hero - the flagstones with names on them leading up to the chapel are the names of some of the "kids with cancer" who have attended camp there over the years.

Take good care, be well and, as always, please keep all of the members of our military and their families AND all of our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lunch AND dinner - great way to end the semester

Today is my last day of classes - my Sports Psychology class meets this afternoon and then the grading begins.  Yesterday was the last day for my Practicum class - they have met with me for 2.5 hours each week for the entire academic year.  They spend 8 - 10 hours per week at their internship sites and have done an amazing job of not only representing Saint Michael's College in our community, but in gaining valuable experience in the world of social services.  It has been an honor to have you all in my class this year.

Yesterday was also the last day of my Men & Masculinities class - this group of 15 men and 15 women have pushed their boundaries, stepped way outside of their comfort zones and produced an exceptional class - their willingness to share their own stories, to NOT be afraid to show who they really are and their ability to "grow" even when it was uncomfortable speaks volumes for this group.  The picture is of the last of the five "dinner at Dave's" which I hold in my home each semester.  I am truly blessed to be able to work at Saint Michael's College and am so proud of all of my students. 

As always, please keep all of the members of our military and their families AND all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.  We were lucky this semester to have a veteran of the Afghanistan war in our class - his insights and the experienes he shared, while NEVER easy for him, benefitted the rest of us more than we may have thought possible. 

Also please keep those in the path of the tornadoes in many parts of our country in your thoughts and prayers - such incredible destruction......

Dinner at Dave's - last of five :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Student Veterans of America barbecue on campus

Yesterday afternoon the SMC chapter of Student Veterans of America held an on-campus barbecue which brought some of our 23 current student-veterans together with non-veterans as a way to "get to know each other better" event hosted by the SVA.  President Jack Neuhauser is pictured with Alex Black and Josh Milner who are the current leaders of our SVA chapter.  They also honored Zaf Bludevich whois retiring in June after 40 years at Saint Michael's College.  Zaf has been a fixture around this campus and has been very supportive of our veterans.  They presented Zaf with a medallion which recognizes his support.  The other pictures are of students - some veterans and others non-veterans who came together to just simply get to know each other better.  As any of you who have read my blogs know, I always end my blogs with a simple request that you keep all of the members of our military and our veterans in your thoughts and prayers - these are good people who contribute so much to this College and to our Country.......

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dinner At Dave's and guests SKYPING into class.

In the Spring semester, I offer my Men & Masculinities class for 15 men and 15 women, all second semester seniors.  This is the only course at the College that specifically deals with men's issues and the only one with a balance of the sexes.  Part of class requires my students to read Linda/Max Ciampoli's book CHURCHILL'S SECRET AGENT - this is a novel based on the true life experiences of Max during World War II when he was a spy for Winston Churchill at the ages of 17,18 and 19.  Students read the book, write an essay entitled "could I do what Max did" and then I send these off to Max, now 91 years old, and Linda.  After they have a chance to read my students' essays, we SKYPE them into class and my students get to "meet" Max and Linda.  We did this on Monday night this week and it was an amazing educational opportunity and a very emotional one for Max.  When Max and Linda got married, she knew nothing of his experiences during WWII.  Over time and with her love and understanding, he revealed what he had done.  HIS goal in writing this book is so today's youth NEVER FORGET that what happened way back then can happen again IF we don't remember our history.  Given that the day before we SKYPED, three Jews were killed in Kansas simply because they WERE Jewish and that this happened the day before Passover, a Jewish Holiday, Max, a Catholic, but someone who believed so passionately in the worth of every human being, became very emotional as WE talked with him in class.  What a gift to my students to be able to read a book, write an essay about that book and then experience an opportunity to "meet and talk with" the authors. 
After class and SKYPING, I had the fourth of five "dinner at Dave's" at my home - students love coming to a professor's home and having a chance for a home cooked meal off campus - I usually have to throw them out around 11:15 as I have to get up for work the next day :)

Take care, be well and as we head towards Commencement, please keep all of our seniors in your thoughts and prayers as they leave this place they have called home for the past 4 years.  Also, please keep all of the members of our military, their families and all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers too.....

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Smoking Doesn't Get You High, It Gets You Down"

This past Friday, my friend and colleague Dr. Ari Kirshenbaum, Associate Professor of Psychology presented the work that he and his students have been studying - the following is the description that was posted about this:  "The mortality and economic burden associated with tobacco use is immense, and nicotine withdrawal is the primary obstacle to successful tobacco-use cessation.  There are many aspects of tobacco withdrawal, and the dysphoria provoked by initial abstinence tends to be the strongest precipitator of relapse.  The scientific literature is replete with experimental evidence showing that nicotine reliably produces depression in non-human animals.  Although withdrawal is most often conceptualized a a purely physiological condition produced by chronic nicotine exposure, Dr. Kirshenbaum will present data from his laboratory that shows that nicotine withdrawal is a product of learning and memory processes.  This new conceptualization of withdrawal helps to clarify the reasons why tobacco is a potent dependence-producing agent, and may ultimately provide new opportunities for tobacco-use cessation treatment."    In addition to most of our Psychology Department attending this event, there were several students in attendance.  This past August I traveled to Carbondale, Colorado and co-presented a workshop with Dr. Steve Rissman from Metropolitan State University outside Denver - our workshop raised the question of how issues of masculinity impacts relapse - we did the workshop at Jaywalker Lodge, an alcohol/drug treatment facility for men in Carbondale.  I had previously done a workshop in March based on my book I Wish He'd Taught Me How To Shave and was excited to return here - they have an amazingly successful treatment program at Jaywalker and issues of dependence AND relapse are intriguing to me.  I appreciated Ari's work in his lab and know that his students are challenged as they learn how to do scientific research on various topics - WELL DONE my friend........
As always, please keep all of the members of our military and their families AND all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.  I have gotten to know a couple of OUR current full-time students who are veterans and we have so much to learn from them and their experiences -
take good care

Monday, October 28, 2013

Technology in the classroom at SMC

Last August five members of the faculty participated in the Advanced Teaching With Technology Workshop offered by our Information Technology staff.  The first picture below  shows Amdework Aseffa, Support Technician who directs the College's NEW Mac lab - this VERY state of the art Mac Lab which is designed to support our Fine Arts Department, gives our students the support they need for digital learning and creative work. It is equipped with 15 iMac workstations that include the full Adobe Suite and other popular software.  While I have no clue as to most of what happens in this new Lab, I do know that Amde is a a great teacher who strives to make sure that anyone with questions, will get them answered.  He, along with Jerome Allen, Erik Lightbody, Sue Breeyear, Kellie Campbell and Jim Millard, helped the five of us from the faculty to, in some cases like me, redesign our classes.  The second picture is of a presentation I did this past Friday to explain how I utilize our Tegrity - video-capture program  - in both my Sports Psychology course (students making presentations get video-captured and then they have to view their own presentation and write up their own assessment) and in my Theories of Counseling class where students check out a "kit" containing a webcam and a microphone and then they have to - on their own - set up a mock counseling session which they submit to me.  THIS has been a huge success and the good folks in IT have been amazingly helpful resources as I try to make my classes even more "technology friendly" than they were.  One statistic I was surprised at when we first began the workshop was that the entering first year class at SMC this past August was the FIRST class to have had technology through their ENTIRE school experience.  Pretty amazing.

Monday, October 14, 2013

An amazing weekend - Gloria Steinem, Annie Liebowitz and Senator Patrick and his wife Marcel - for the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal Ceremony

Astor Court in Rhinebeck, NY was the alternative site for the Eleanor Roosevelt Medal Award Ceremony since the gov't shutdown closed the site where this celebration normally takes place - Val-Kill is on government property so the shutdown meant their finding an alternative site.  Astor Court is where Chelsea Clinton was married and is a private residence.  Marc and Dana vanderHeyden hosted a reception here Saturday evening for the Vermont contingent who were there to share in the celebration of Senator and Mrs. Patrick Leahy being honored.

Marilyn Cormier is the College's Director of Governmental and Corporate Relations and she and Marcel and Patrick Leahy are good friends of hers.  Senator Leahy is our Vermont Senator and currently the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate which makes him the third in line for the Presidency.  Here they are in front of Astor Court with the Hudson River in the background.

Both Professor Reza Ramazani and I were honored to be at this event and to be asked to "pose" with the Senator.  Prof. Ramazani is one of our economics professor and he truly IS an extraordinary teacher.  His students love his classes and his energy seeps out into the hallways wherever he teaches.

Gloria Steinam is someone I have always admired.  I have used her scholarly writings in my classes seemingly forever.  She, along with the Senator and Marcel Leahy (and three other people) were honored at the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal Ceremony.  I had a chance to meet and chat with her about my Men & Masculinities class and my newly published book I Wish He'd Taught Me How To Shave.  It was such a privilege to talk with her and later to hear her acceptance speech as she recounted her journey as a strong feminist scholar and author.  I am not one to be "star struck" but WOW - for me to meet such an icon WAS a privilege.

As we were gathering yesterday morning outside of Astor Court, I walked up to this group - former SMC President Marc vanderHeyden, Marcel Leahy and Senator Patrick Leahy were standing talking with Annie Liebowitz who just happens to live next to Astor Court and who took a break from pressing apples for cider at her home to stop over to greet her long time friend Gloria Steinam - Senator Leahy introduced me to her - she, for those who aren't aware, is an incredible photographer whose works are well known all over the world - she truly has an "eye" for taking pictures of world famous and not so famous people.

So, as indicated in the title of this post - an amazing weekend.  Thanks to Marilyn Cormier for the invitation.  Spending time with VP for Institutional Advancement Patrick Gallivan, his friend Dani Fisette, new VT friends Joy and Ed Limoge, Marilyn, Marc and Dana, Patrick and Marcel Leahy and, of course REZA made for not a "normal" weekend for me.  One of the many reasons I respect and admire Marcel Leahy is her openness about her successful battle with melanoma - she mentioned this in HER acceptance speech - she also is a staunch advocate for our military and their families - so it is fitting as always, for me to ask that you keep ALL of the members of our military and ALL of our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
Take care