Spring 2015 Professional Development Week is a Wrap!

IMG_7173Another terrific Professional Development Week is in the books! Thank you to everyone who volunteered to present this week, and to those who carved time out of their schedules to attend the sessions. I too was able to pop-in to a variety of presentations and was pleased to see the number of faculty and staff filling the seats.

I want to give a special thank you to Jane Horlings, flexible calendar program coordinator, who spent countless hours organizing the session topics, times, and locations. It is because of Jane that any of this is possible. Thank you to all the faculty, staff, managers, and administrators who made Professional Development Week a success. I also want to thank the Trustee David Land, Trustee Tim Jamal and Trustee James Wright for taking time out of their schedules to attend one of this week’s events.

So much has happened over the winter break, President Obama thrust community colleges into the spotlight with his plan to make community colleges free, the science building has moved into the framing phase, and sadly we lost two long-time college employees, Kay Stevens and Dick Stutz.

In bringing you all up to speed, I was joined by my colleagues to share an update on the college priorities we shared back in August. They are: 1. Enrollment Management, 2. Student Success, 3. Economic and Workforce Development and 4. K-12 Partnerships.

Dr. Kathy Werle spoke about enrollment management and highlighted the four areas of focus for the coming year, 1. scheduling, 2. online education, 3. K-12 partnerships and 4. student retention. An update on Student Success was given by Dr. Bruce Gilman and Penny Skaff. They shared details of the new student success curricular task force, the AVID for higher education initiative, professional development offerings, student engagement, upcoming freshman advantage days, early alert and the implementation of the Student Success Act mandates. I then had the opportunity to give the Economic and Workforce Development and K-12 Partnerships update. Dr. Juan Avalos shared the key points of the Student Equity Plan and introduced the individuals serving as the faculty sub-group leads.

One of my favorite things about Professional Development Week is that we recognize the winners of the President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation.  As in the past, the field of nominees was top notch, causing me to choose multiple winners in several categories.


The AVID Team was awarded the President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation. 

The AVID Leadership team was awarded the Faculty award. Their remarkable efforts in bringing the nationally-recognized AVID program to Saddleback College could not be overlooked. Their work in implementing the AVID Counseling 140 and peer mentoring programs, and the professional development activities they have spearheaded to foster campus-wide AVID practices, will have long lasting results on student success and achievement.


Jorge was awarded the President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation at the Associate Faculty Dinner. 

At the Associate Faculty dinner I presented the award to Jorge Guerrero. Jorge is described as a “magnet” for students who seek out his counseling and researching skills. He is an empathetic and thoughtful counselor who goes the extra mile for the students he serves, and for his colleagues who seek is guidance. He combines his technical expertise with his counseling abilities to assist in the creation of learning tools for transfer students, and as a bilingual counselor, he communicates effectively with Spanish-speaking students and their families, making students of all backgrounds feel at ease at our campus.

At the Classified Staff Luncheon, I awarded two individuals for their stellar work, Edward De La O and Javier Williams.


Edward and Javier receiving their awards at the Classified Luncheon.

Edward is commended for his remarkable efforts in our grants office, and for his fabulous can-do attitude.  He is appreciated for his writing skills and the unique approaches he develops that have resulted in the college experiencing a high rate of grant acceptance.

Javier is recognized for bringing FAFSA Wednesday workshops to the Career and Re-Entry Center.  Javi is a respected colleague who trains fellow staff members and student helpers.  His positivity is infectious and has had a ripple effect, with students often asking, “when can I meet with Javi?”


Michael and Louis were instrumental to getting the campus back on their feet after the water main break.

The winners of the management award went to Michael James and Louis Sessler. The efforts of Michael and Louis were greatly appreciated during the water main break experienced at Saddleback College on October 7th. Due to their immediate and capable response, the urgent situation was professionally handled. They wisely put in to place back-up strategies to restore water to most of our campus while the issue continued to be resolved campus-wide. We appreciate the outpouring of positive comments and recognition Michael and Louis received from numerous faculty, staff, and management for their great work in responding to this emergency.

The President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation nominees in each category were:

Associate Faculty

  • Andrea Deerheart
  • Brenda Fitzgeorge
  • Jorge Guerrero


  • Kim D’Arcy
  • Tom DeDonno
  • Georgina Guy
  • Rebecca Knapp
  • Charley Myers
  • Erin O’Shea
  • Deanna Valdez
  • Norm Weston


  • Emily Cramer
  • Kevin Dalla Betta
  • Edward De La O
  • Jim Fagan
  • Trish Fain
  • Barbara Sendaba
  • Javier Williams


  • Estella Castillo-Garrison
  • Jeanne Harris-Caldwell
  • Michael James
  • Anthony Maciel
  • Terence Nelson
  • Tamera Rice
  • Joyce Semanik
  • Louis Sessler
  • Kathy Werle
  • Chris Wilkinson