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Aims selected to participate in new national college mentoring program to improve student success

Submitted on: 12-08-2008

Aims Community College is one of 18 community colleges across the country selected to participate in a new college mentoring program. Aims has been matched to be mentored by Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash., in developing learning communities for developmental education. “Like most colleges across the nation, we have a huge need in providing services to students with developmental education needs,” said Debbie Major, Interim Associate Dean of Learning and Organizational Development for Aims. “Learning communities combine two or more courses, such as developmental English and developmental math, to reinforce the subject matter covered and to create a support network for learners who are enrolled in both courses. We’ll be looking to Skagit Valley to help us develop our program and apply the best practices they have discovered in their own learning community programs.” The college mentoring program is a central component of Community Colleges CAN, www.communitycollegescan.org, an initiative funded through June 2009 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education. The initiative, which is administered by JBL Associates, is designed to strengthen the capacity of community colleges to meet students’ academic needs and support their success in college and the workforce. Across the nation, teams of faculty, staff and administrators will work collaboratively in six mentoring communities — each with one mentor college, two mentee colleges, and a facilitator with extensive professional experience in the two-year college community. Mentee colleges were selected through a national competition and matched with a mentor college experienced in the implementation of an effective initiative similar to that which the mentee would like to develop. Each mentoring community focuses on a program area that is important to all community colleges and centers on an initiative successfully implemented at a mentor college. The mentoring communities are: Academic and Student Support Centers, Career Pathways, Developmental Education Learning Communities, Innovations in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), P–20 Educational Partnerships, and Teaching and Learning Centers. For a full list of the mentoring communities and participating colleges as well as descriptions of the colleges’ initiatives, visit www.communitycollegescan.org/about/factsheet.cfm. Through the program’s fast-track, collaborative learning experience, the mentoring communities will develop practical strategies that mentee colleges can use to advance their own initiatives. They will focus on critical issues or challenges commonly faced by community colleges, such as program planning and design, building community partnerships, staff training and professional development, evaluation and assessment, data collection, and funding strategies. Six issue briefs, each focusing on one of these critical challenges, will be developed in the first half of 2009 to support the learning of the mentoring communities and to share practical strategies broadly within the two-year college community. The college mentoring program will allow participants to benefit from expertise to which they might not otherwise have access,” said William Munn, program coordinator and research associate, JBL Associates. “In recent years, many community colleges have developed innovative interventions for improving student access to, preparation for, and persistence in postsecondary education. Peer mentoring can serve as an effective method to share knowledge and inspire development of successful implementation strategies.” Aims Community College is one of the most progressive two-year colleges in Colorado. Founded in 1967 in Greeley, Aims has since established additional campuses in Fort Lupton and Loveland. Curriculum now includes 6,000 day, evening, weekend and online courses annually. Community Colleges CAN, www.communitycollegescan.org, is a two-year initiative aimed at strengthening the efforts of community colleges to improve student achievement and to help students address the challenges they face in entering and succeeding in college. The initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education, encourages the exchange of ideas and knowledge among college practitioners through the support of collaborative mentoring communities; showcases practices that offer promise for improving academic preparation, participation, and success of students; and disseminates useful and timely information about community college programs and practices to the higher education community.

http://www.communitycollegescan.org



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