Update From President, Jason S. Wood, Ph.D. – Nov 14, 2020


The exec team recently completed a review of the 13 Behaviors for Speed of Trust.  We will now circle back and explore The Ideal Team Player with an emphasis on the three essential characteristics: Humble, Hungry, and Smart.  If you know someone who exemplifies one of these attributes, please send them a note saying so.  Of the new people we have hired in 2020, here are a few I believe have strong qualities in the three areas:

  1. Humble: David Carter-Plake, midwifery instructor, has a distinguished professional background and is very accomplished in his profession.  In addition, he readily recognizes the strengths and values of his colleagues and he is admirably caring and compassionate about the students he serves.  We are fortunate to have David on board because he is part of a team in the midwifery program which will be admitting nearly 90 students in January – about 40 more than normal!
  2. Hungry: Holly Straka, marketing, is very hungry as she stepped away from a job she liked in order to pursue a career at the college.  Holly is willing to risk a limited term employment (LTE) assignment in order to have her foot in the door for internal opportunities.  She was a quick and eager participate to a recent article I submitted to the Fennimore Times taking on additional work to help improve the results of a project.
  3. Smart: Demi Vetesnik, human resources, is helping Connie Haberkorn plan in-service while Connie focuses on the Project: RiSE implementation.  On her first day at work, Demi listened to the plan for in-service and astutely identified both strengths and weaknesses of the plan with a high level of respect and professionalism.  She listens well and inquisitively follows up with relevant questions.  I’m confident she will help make in-service better because of her abilities with process and people.

We have many, many people who excel in these areas.  I hope you’ll help me identify and recognize their contributions by sending them a note.  During in-service in January, we aspire to include a hands-on activity focusing on the deep joy generated through acknowledging others.  Stay tuned! 😊

Here is an update from around the college:

  1. COVIDPlease help limit the spread of COVID.  If you have any questions, let me know, but at this point it’s about decisions, not knowledge.  We know what has to occur to achieve better results but we are failing miserably.  I commit to doing my part and taking additional safety precautions in my personal life.  The Board of Directors decided to go back to virtual meetings.  If we can find a way to slow the spread, we hope to start next semester similar to our current college operations.  The COVID Operations Team is exploring additional health and safety measures we can implement in order to continue offering in-person learning in prioritized areas.  While no decisions have been made and feedback and suggestions are appreciated, here are a few of the options being explored:
    1. Temperature checks on campus
    2. Mandatory testing for access to campus
    3. Additional personal protective equipment
    4. Starting an 8-week group of gen ed courses half way through the next semester, with possible in-person options, to help students in need
    5. Additional financial support for students
  2. Equity and Inclusion Lead to Diversity:
    1. This week I’ve been able to attend classes with Vanessa Caldari (midwifery), Christina Winch (agriculture), and Tom Kretschman (public safety).  Current events in the world are on students’ minds and I am grateful our students, even in their own struggles, empathize with the situations of other people.  Several students volunteered suggestions on ways we can be more equitable and inclusive.  One specific example: gas cards are available to help students who need a little extra support for transportation.  Our current gas cards are for Kwik Trip, which is a local option and not available to many remote students.  When this was brought to the attention of Gina Trollop, Jordyn Poad, and Holly Clendenen, they quickly purchased Mobil gas cards which can be provided to students who do not have access to Kwik Trip.  This simple adjustment creates equity in access to financial supports allowing a more inclusive group of people to benefit which will lead to increased diversity in our student success efforts.
    2. Special Pops data point: Did you know in the past three years we have served over 140 veterans, more than 240 people of color, and nearly 250 people with disabilities?  While the headcount may be duplicated, understanding the success of our students is important.  As we analyze the data on their retention, persistence, and graduation rates, we will learn about ways we can help more students reach their goals.  Please stay tuned for “Data Summit 2.0” from the College Effectiveness Team which will help guide our efforts.
    3. Please note that Giulio (pronounced JOOL-ee-o) Reyes, Multi-Cultural Student Success Coach, has recently started working at the college.  He is very talented and has an infectious enthusiasm for helping students be successful.  I encourage you to invite him to your team meetings to get to know each other and to talk about student success.  He will be working remotely before relocating to the area when it is safer to do so.  In the meantime, introducing him to your professional networks is an important part of his job and will benefit the students he is helping.
  3. Feedback from students:
    1. As previously mentioned, some of my interactions with students led to feedback about what they appreciate and what we could improve.  Here is a quick summary:
      1. Students greatly appreciate: faculty and staff working with each student and their personal situation, in-person learning options, emphasizing safety across campus, the laptop program, helping them find solutions, and encouraging each other with humor and sensitivity.
      2. Students hope for: timely responses to their inquiries, flexibility (i.e. appropriately adapting policies to the situation), consideration of the laptop program fee structure in the future, and continued compassion…they want us to know they are trying.
    2. I am confident there are plenty of examples of how all of the above is being done well.  Please note how very grateful I am for your efforts.  If you think of something we can do to help more of our students, please send me a note.  I’ll try my best to help and I know and trust each of you is doing the same.
    3. Please take a peak at the attached enrollment trends for the Wisconsin Technical College System over the past several years.  We continue to create new ways to attract and recruit students.  In fact, I encourage you to reach out to like and share the new “Where’s Kyle?” recruitment video series.  Very well done!  Teaser: video contains actual driving footage of Kyle under duress!
    4. I am extremely excited about the upcoming employee fundraising initiative!  Holly Clendenen and her team have found a way to make your donations go further than ever before.  Team captains are prepped to inspire and encourage people to find a way to help our students.  There is not a dollar amount goal.  We are simply seeking for a percentage of participants.  I am eternally optimistic we can reach 100% participation.  We can reach perfection in participation…and all to benefit students.
  4. Listening Sessions: The first Listening Session is scheduled for November 24 at 11:30 am and appointments with the zoom login have been added to the calendar.  Please note the first session is designed primarily to hear “best practices” on specific themes from you.  We hope to focus on learning more about the good work you are doing.  Please consider joining the session and sharing your success.  As we try this new approach, please understand these initial sessions will not be a time for debate nor will we attempt to correct or inform unless an exceptional situation arises.  Depending on attendance, which is entirely voluntary, we will have several people who can moderate break-out sessions.  Here are a few pointers on “Listening Sessions”.  As we gain competencies, capacity, and courage, we will be able to follow this example featured on Good Morning America of opposing political candidates who committed to civility and mutual respect and actually ran some joint campaign advertisements.  We will learn from this first listening session and make improvements as we schedule more throughout the year.  We have decided to focus on the following suggested themes for topics:
    1. Well-Being: your favorite ways to strengthen healthy and professional relationships between people at work
    2. Student Learning: best practices for helping students thrive in the current reality
  5. Shout Out to…
    1. Gary Roberts, Public Safety instructor, for his presentation to the Board of Directors regarding the civic engagement of his students.  The attached Shout Out expresses the appreciation of the Board for Gary’s good work.
    2. Joan Young, Medical Lab Tech instructor, for being a master in establishing and maintaining strong relationships with clinical organizations.  As a result she procures A LOT of clinical laboratory equipment, supplies, and consumables from these clinical partners.  This decreases the costs related to learning and allows the students opportunities for authentic learning here on campus prior to heading out to clinical sites.
    3. Jamie Seitz, lab assistant in auto/industry, for working behind the scenes to make our labs safer, the instructional equipment better, and generally doing whatever it takes to keep things functioning.

As always, please send me feedback, comments, or questions.  At some point we will reflect back on our response to 2020.  I hope when we do remember we will be able to say the prevailing sentiment was that we were collectively compassionate in serving our students and each other as we created ways to be successful.  We are all engaged in work that is bigger and more beautiful than we realize…let us be the example of coming together in unified commitment to help Every. Single. Student.


Jason S. Wood, Ph.D.President of the College

Posted in COVID-19, Update