Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Reimagining Learning Spaces
January 29, 2021
We successfully completed the first week of spring 2021 classes. As we welcome new and continuing students, we can take pride in the impact we are having on their academic trajectory through our reimagined learning spaces. We are helping students stay on track and serving them in new ways in an environment we are co-creating. The advances we have made while adapting to the pandemic will long endure, forever changing how we live, learn, and work.
Our innovations extend to the opportunities we provide for students in co- and extracurricular activities. Myriad cultural and special interest clubs and organizations complement their curricula. We provide opportunities that foster critical thinking and in-depth exploration of issues and ideals, like Phi Theta Kappa, the Pulitzer Center Student Reporting Fellowship, and the 29th Annual Beacon Conference, which Westchester Community College will host on June 4 via Zoom, as part of our 75th Anniversary celebration.
We thank Dr. Mira Sakrajda and Prof. Kent Trickel for serving as co-directors of this distinctive occasion for students at two-year colleges within the Mid-Atlantic region to showcase research skills, present findings at an academic conference, and exchange thoughts and ideas in a professional forum. We invite members of our faculty to encourage students to participate in this opportunity by putting forth their content in this enriching and competitive space. Please visit the Beacon Conference website for details and reach out to Professors Sakrajda and Trickel for more information.
This work ensues as we continue to face myriad challenges due to the pervasiveness of COVID-19, nationally and locally. Safety remains our top priority — especially as we welcome a small number of students and faculty back to Valhalla and support the thousands who are committed to our teaching and learning mission through remote options. We are doubling down on our preventative and defensive practices as well as our response in the instance of any evidence of the virus at our facilities. Be sure to review the new testing protocols required for those accessing our facilities and direct students to college resources for technology support, mental health services, and other needs they may have. Also, we have developed new structures input into the Pandemic Response Team (PRT) from WCCFT and CSEA to more directly address employee needs.
Our work also exists in the context of ongoing focus on social justice, demands for racial equity, and cultural competency. Our Black History Month programming, commencing February 1, provides a plethora of learning opportunities that give us cause for celebration and reflection as we focus our individual and collective calls for action to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within our college and regionally. Please share the calendar of events, continue to watch for additional programming, and encourage students to participate to share ideas, and learn about our diverse cultures.
Thank you for your continued commitment to student success and to our mission-driven work!
Dr. Belinda S. Miles