Skip to content

Archive for the ‘Academic News’ Category

Rising to the Challenge

Shannon Engle

During Shannon Engle’s social work practicum as a job developer for Challenge Workforce Solutions in Ithaca, she noticed there wasn’t a training manual for those in her position. Her solution? Create one.

As a job developer, Shannon, a social work major in Keuka College’s Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) helps prepare adults with disabilities to enter and remain competitive in the workforce. Specifically she assists individuals in identifying their skills, goals, and strengths within the realm of competitive employment.

At her practicum, Shannon was charged with creating, implementing, and evaluating a curriculum called the Pro-Skills Workshop. The challenge was to help job seekers with disabilities and other such challenges learn about “soft skills” they would need to be successful at their job.

“The series of nine training sessions focuses on interpretation and use of appropriate professional engagement and nonverbal communication such as tone of voice, body language, appropriate eye contact, as well as understanding and responding to employers,” said Shannon.

Shannon and Emily Koester, another job developer spent 40 hours creating the first six lessons, totaling 12 group hours. Now, the Pro-Skills Workshop series covers nine subjects and 27 group hours, and participants receive a certificate of completion.

Recently, Challenge Workforce Solutions received a $364,186 grant from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities through the Balancing Incentive Program (BIP) Transformation Fund. The award will support the transition of workers from sheltered to community-based employment, and will expand outreach to students to support their transition from school to work.

According to Shannon, the Pro-Skills Workshop series she helped create will be utilized within the grant as one of the expanded offerings for area high schools, along with helping prepare recent graduates for entering the world of work. Another key aspect of the BIP grant is to help transition individuals from contract production departments into rewarding community-based services.

As it happens, community-based services are something Shannon is quite familiar with. Raised by her grandparents, she grew up watching her grandmother work for a non-profit agency that supported individuals with developmental disabilities, give back to the community, advocate for “at-risk” populations and strive to make a difference.

Following in her grandmother’s footsteps, Shannon worked for one non-profit agencies upon graduating from high school.

“I worked with individuals with disabilities for six years, but began to feel stuck,” she said. “So I changed professions and did something totally different, but the work was not as enjoyable for me. After three years, my department was outsourced and I had the opportunity to go back to college. I saw earning my bachelor’s degree as an opportunity to advance my skills, knowledge, and employability.”

Shannon had some challenges of her own to face. Prior to enrolling at Keuka College, Shannon said she enjoyed working on the micro level and was hesitant to work in a group. “Group work was going to be new professional territory for me, as I felt intimidated in that setting,” said Engle. “But I took a group process class which helped prepare me for the planning and collaboration that occurred during the development of the Pro-Skills Workshop series. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed collaborating with my classmates, and my Challenge colleagues.”

Another course she credits for preparing her was a research class. And while she admits she struggled with the terminology and the research process, “[Assistant Professor of Social Work] Dr. Gretchen Rymarchyk was supportive and available to answer my questions. What I learned helped me approach my senior practicum with a critical eye and focused intent on my research assignments.”

Said Dr. Rymarchyk: “Shannon is a high-energy, proactive, and eager student who embraces big opportunities. She will be an asset to any agency.”

Putting Inspiration —and Illustration—On the Page

Dr. Joiner, left, and Prof. Newcomb, right at the book release party with mascot Kacey the Wolf.

First came the stories. A year ago, fifth-graders in the Penn Yan Elementary School classroom of Terry Test ’73 met three times for interviews with Keuka College “authors” in the introductory English course “Literature in the Wider World” to craft stories from the perspective of each child. Now, colorful images bring an extra punch to the words on each page.

The project, dubbed “Who is Penn Yan?” was the brainchild of Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, Dr. Jennie Joiner. The goal was to provide both college and elementary students with a hands-on learning experience in story development and characterization.

Rather than an exercise in creative writing, the assignment emphasizes “the power of story,” Joiner said. “It’s catered to the child, and goes back to the narrative form and what it means to take someone’s story in your own hands and be responsible for it.”

This year, the collaboration took on new dimensions with the addition of an illustration component, provided by students in the book illustration course taught by Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art and design. A group of college artists were assigned to produce illustrations spanning a wide range of artistic styles and mediums.

"Bryan" and "Tabitha" show off the illustrations their artist's created for them. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

Both the stories and illustrations came together over several weeks during the fall semester. College artists met first with each child, to discuss what they had in mind. The fifth-graders borrowed books from the library to use as examples of styles they liked. The College author teams then spent three weeks meeting with fifth-graders at the elementary school to hear how the children envisioned their stories unfolding, jotting down notes each time to take back and work into drafts in progress. College artists then collaborated with authors to determine what key story element to illustrate for each one.

Elementary students like "Leona" enjoyed getting to know their authors and artists (like Emily Radler). (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

According to Test, the Keuka College students made quite an impression on her class.

“To have fifth-graders see a college student sit down and write and take notes—well, this year’s class was impressed. They mentioned it after the first day and I see much better note-taking than there was before,” she said, adding that she was also seeing improvements in their writing too, particularly in response to literature.

And it’s not just the tangible improvements that have Test thrilled.

“They see that real people go to college and how it’s do-able. In talking with their authors, they realize they have to get good grades, finish high school, and they have to plan for it,” she said.

The illustration created for "Jack's" football story (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

Just before Thanksgiving break, College authors brought near-finished drafts of each fifth-grader’s story to the school to read them aloud and gather any additional feedback. More than a few were waiting with bated breath. Take Elysia Robbins ‘18, for example, who teamed with “Jack” on a story about his character facing football tryouts.

“I was really nervous coming here this morning, but this is so rewarding!” Robbins said after hearing Jack rave over the results. “Coming down here is such a unique experience.”

In another corner of the room, “Tiffanie” listened to Katie Crossley ‘16 read through the story of her character’s experience fast-forwarding through life with a magic remote control.

Katie Crossley '16 and "Tiffanie" - all smiles at the book relase party

“I kind of like the end more,” Tiffanie explained. “My character finally realized she didn’t need to live in the past. She can live in the now.”

At another table, Ian Ault ‘17, an adult student, sat with “Johnny,” reviewing a detailed tale of Johnny’s exploits as a superhero known as Lizard Ninja. As far as Ault was concerned, far more than mere fantasy happened in the tale.

A dragon lizard illustrated by Jesse Ninos '15 for "Johnny's" story

“It’s a matter of taking a concept, such as good versus evil, and recreating how you view it, and with kids, they make up a story and that’s how they decide what decisions they’ll make,” Ault said. “For some, like Johnny, you create the story and the concepts, and that’s how you learn.”

Similar revelations unfolded when the artists returned to the elementary school on December 1, visiting Test’s classroom to unveil final paintings, drawings or multimedia works to each child.

“It was challenging, because it wasn’t just my fifth-grader’s vision, but it had to fit the author’s vision too,” said Courtney Knauber ’17, who illustrated two different stories of a dog named Pug-Popo for “Christy.”

According to Prof. Newcomb, creating different pieces in different styles and mediums for each child stretched her art students outside their comfort zones, and provided personal experience in working with a “client” just as they could encounter as a professional.

The sustained interaction with Keuka College students was maturing Test’s classroom in new ways too, she said.

“You had 17 ten-year-olds discussing art for 40 minutes in hushed, gallery tones,” said Test.

Ms. Test, left, looks over art by Jesse Ninos, right, with "Tyler." (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

Back at campus, College authors made final revisions to each “Who is Penn Yan?” story, turning them in to Joiner as part of the final project for her English course. Then over winter break, artist Jesse Ninos combined all of the elements into the second volume of the “Who is Penn Yan?” collector’s book for his senior Field Period™. The finished books rolled off the press just days before Test’s entire class made a special visit to Lightner Library where the new College mascot, Kacey, waited with Joiner, Newcomb and their students to celebrate the book’s release.

Flanked by special guests from the Keuka College Executive Alumni Association, which co-sponsored the field trip for the fifth-graders to come to campus, the Wolfpack mascot gave each child a hug before handing him or her their book.

"AJ" gets a first look at the "Who is Penn Yan?" book.

“Beautiful job, you guys,” Dr. Paul Forestell, provost and vice president for academic affairs, told the fifth-graders as he got a first glimpse of the special edition and praised them for sharing their great ideas.

“What’s really interesting is to realize how much you as fifth-graders have taught our College students, and other way around. That’s a really important learning adventure, so thank you for being willing to join us and share it so well,” Forestell said.

Speaking above the laughter and excitement of her class as they downed cookies and punch, Test added her thanks to each Keuka College student for “the amount of time you invested into 10 year-olds.”

“We have a fifth-grade class that now loves writing and it’s an honor to say that,” Test added.

As fifth-graders and college students turned the crisp, new pages of their shared book, exchanging hugs — and autographs—praise for the project continued. Seated next to author Anna Kramer ’18, “Marley” demonstrated how the book flips open in the middle —right to her story.

"Marley," right, shows off her story with author Anna Kramer '18

“Oh, I like it! Two thumbs up!” Marley gushed.

Holding his copy of the work, Ian Ault ‘17 gestured to the schoolchildren beaming smiles.

“The book is cool, but the experience of doing it — you can’t put that on paper. This makes the college experience deeper.”

Ms. Test and her fifth-graders celebrate their book release with Kacey the Wolf at Lightner Library.

Pedagogy with Technology

To celebrate Digital Learning Day, set for Friday, March 13, Keuka College, in conjunction with the Flipped Learning Network, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and the Keuka College Center for Teaching and Learning, will host a presentation fair that features technology tools and resources, and highlights the innovative ways Keuka College students and faculty use digital learning in the classroom.

Two members of the Keuka College faculty will open their classroom doors to allow members of the College community and the public to see how students are using digital learning and technology in the classroom.

Nicholas Koberstein, instructor of child and family studies, will host an open house session in conjunction with the Flipped Learning Network and a digital learning presentation; the flipped classroom open house covering adolescent development will be held in Hegeman Hall room 104 from 9-10 a.m. His digital learning presentation session, on the use of cell phones in the classroom, will be from noon-12:45 p.m. in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) conference room, located on the second floor of Keuka Business Park in Penn Yan. 

Nicholas Koberstein

“My flipped learning open house will showcase some of the ways that students set up their discussions, and the professionalism they convey while mediating the discussion,” said Koberstein. “My teaching style revolves around creating an optimal learning environment, which is when students feel like they matter, when students’ unique learning styles are acknowledged, when students’ concerns are heard, when students are able to take risks, and when students are modeled flexibility.”

Part of that flexibility—and example of how a flipped classroom could work—resulted from a lack of student motivation and poor attendance on Fridays, “so I created ‘no work Friday,’ in an attempt to motivate and revive Friday classes,” Koberstein said. “No work Friday is a student-led, student-prepared discussion-based class meant to be an open, accepting, and thrilling class meeting. Students are in control of the topic, and discussion, and the feedback on no work Friday has been excellent, and is usually students’ favorite part of class.”

Enid Bryant, assistant professor of communication studies, will be hosting a digital learning open house. Bryant will use her Understanding Digital Communication course for her digital learning open house. Her class begins at 2:30 p.m. in Lightner Library computer lab 001.

“The flipped learning classroom open house will allow members of the College and surrounding community to come into our two classrooms and learn along with the students,” said Koberstein. “We want this day to be about students’ learning styles and outcomes by showing off their digital learning skills. We want to showcase the things our students can do with technology to enhance their particular style of learning.”

Part of that learning could be a blend of a flipped classroom and a traditional classroom, such as Bryant uses for her Understanding Digital Communication class. 

Enid Bryant

“Every day, we discuss topics central to media literacy, as that is the focus of the course,” said Bryant. “We use digital tools, such as social media, blogs and Moodle, to communicate outside of the classroom and share work. During my open house, we will discuss how to be critical consumers and producers of Wikipedia. My students will become Wikipedians, which is what the site calls its editors.”

According to Koberstein, more Keuka College faculty “seem to be trying the idea of a flipped classroom to get students to be self-initiated learners. Most of the work is done outside of the classroom and when we get into class, we work on projects and application of what they have learned outside the classroom. It provides room to expand what they learn inside the classroom and I think it brings students to higher levels of learning.”

So does Bryant.

“At times, it is very effective to flip a class, especially when I want to use the class time to work on production of digital projects or discussion of topics,” said Bryant.

For example, recently students in Bryant’s Understanding Digital Communication class focused on the upcoming FCC Net Neutrality debate, which she believes is crucial for young people to understand, as they are likely to be the ones most impacted by this regulation.

“On their own time, the students researched the topic, wrote blogs and tweeted about the FCC Net Neutrality vote,” she said. “We were then able to spend valuable class time clarifying what Net Neutrality really means and how it could impact them. They came to class well prepared to converse and actually debate a heavy topic because of the independent learning they did outside of the classroom.” 

Denise Love

Denise Love, associate professor of education and director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, who also teaches a flipped learning class, agrees.

“I believe the method empowers students to be responsible for their own learning, and guides them to a deeper level of a given concept,” she said, as flipped learning allows direct instruction moving from the group learning space to the individual learning space.

The resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. Digital learning can be used for professional learning opportunities for teachers and to provide personalized learning experiences for students.

Laurel Hester

Jason McKinney

Two other faculty members, Laurel Hester, assistant professor of biology, and Jason McKinney, assistant professor of social work, will also be presenting. Hester will discuss the use of Moodle, an open-source software program used by Keuka College students for their class work, from 11-11:45 a.m. in the ASAP conference room.  McKinney will present “Taking it to a new level: A DIY approach to blending towards online” from 1:15-2 p.m. also in the ASAP conference room. In McKinney’s presentation, he will share work-arounds for finding efficient, flexible, and relatively easy ways for managing classes while also preparing for a future goal of blending face-to-face and online learning. By using devices and technologies comfortable for him as a starting point, McKinney has found some simple strategies to develop online lectures.

According to, Love, the idea of having a digital learning day presentation fair came out of a faculty retreat held in January.

“After the retreat, Nancy Marksbury [special assistant to the president and director of digital learning] sent a survey to find out how those in attendance felt about the retreat,” said Love. “Many people said they liked the sessions they went to, but wished they could attend more. So we wondered what we could do to keep the momentum going. I think people see digital learning simply as technology, but in all reality it is about student learning in which educators use technology as a tool to guide students to a better understanding. ”

Digital Learning Day, started in 2012, is a national celebration that features innovative ways educators are incorporating digital resources into the classroom. Digital learning strives to create student experiences that maximize the many learning opportunities available through technology. In its fourth year, this national campaign celebrates educators and the potential of technology in education for learning and teaching.

The flipped classroom open houses and participation in Digital Learning Day “is a great opportunity to see what kinds of digital learning are happening every day on the Keuka College campus,” added Bryant.

Local and regional public and private school educators, administrators, and students are invited to attend Keuka College’s flipped classroom open house and presentations. Space is limited so reservations are advised. Reservations for Koberstein’s classroom can be made online at http://goo.gl/r6jQAt. Those wishing to attend other presentations can email Dr. Love at ctl@keuka.edu.

For more information about the Flipped Learning Network, visit www.flippedlearning.org.

For more on Digital Learning Day, visit www.digitallearningday.org.

Keuka College Announces Community-based Scholarships to Expand Opportunity and Strengthen Local Economies

Keuka College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera announced on Monday two new community-based scholarship packages. The scholarships are in honor of the College’s 125th anniversary and pay homage to Keuka College’s century-old reputation as a pillar of community and regional service, empowerment, and engagement.

The “Back to Business” scholarship aims to combat unemployment in Yates County and the counties surrounding Keuka College, including Steuben, Schuyler, Seneca, Livingston, Ontario, Monroe, and Wayne. All accepted applicants to the College’s on-campus Master of Science in Management (MSM) program from these counties will automatically receive the scholarship, valued at $15,500. Keuka College’s accelerated MSM program, which was recently ranked by The Financial Engineer among the top 50 in the United States, enables students to earn a graduate degree in business in ten months of intensive, full-time study on the College’s Keuka Park campus.

“In this current job market, management graduate degree holders are almost 20 percent less likely to be unemployed than those who have only a bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Daniel Robeson, chair of the Division of Business and Management and director of the College’s Center for Business Analytics and Health Informatics. “And those with a graduate degree in management will enjoy approximately $12,000 more in gross salary annually over the course of one’s life…. that translates to an extra $1,000 per month.”

The second scholarship program, developed in conjunction with the Hillside Family of Agencies, provides two $22,000 scholarships each year to students who are involved in the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection and are interested in four years of undergraduate study on Keuka College’s Keuka Park campus.

“At the White House College Opportunity Day of Action in December, much of my time was spent talking with presidents from other colleges and universities about ways in which we can make higher education more accessible,” said President Díaz-Herrera. “Community partnerships, such as the one we’re announcing today with Hillside, are one of the many ways in which Keuka College is showing our commitment to accessible, affordable private education.”

Keuka College is a member of the Yes We Must Coalition, a consortium of institutions of higher learning striving to increase degree attainment of low-income students and students from underrepresented populations. Combined, the 36 member institutions will produce an additional 3,200 graduates by 2025.

Those who are interested in learning more about these scholarship programs are encouraged to contact the College’s Office of Admissions at (315) 279-5254 or emailing admissions@keuka.edu. Information is also available online at www.keuka.edu.

Students Deliver Capital Performance in Albany

From left: Seniors Tom Drumm, Shadayvia Wallace, Erin Scott and Dee Metzger traveled to Albany to advocate more student aid

Advocacy is defined as “the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy.”

And no one did it better than four Keuka College seniors who traveled to Albany last week for New York Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day.

Dee Metzger, Erin Scott, Shadayvia Wallace, and Tom Drumm are passionate about Keuka College and the aid that will make it possible for them to join the College’s alumni ranks this May.

Metzger and Wallace shared that passion with a large crowd of students and others gathered in the Well of the Legislative Office Building.  The storytelling continued when all four students met with a staffer in State Sen. Tom O’Mara’s office. They extolled the virtues of TAP and HEOP and reinforced the need to keep those and other student aid programs vibrant for students who will follow their path to Keuka College and other schools in the Empire State.

How good were these students at advocating for student aid?

“If you didn’t believe student aid was a just cause,” said Executive Director of Grants, Governmental Relations, and Compliance Doug Lippincott, “you would after listening to Dee, Erin, Shadayvia, and Tom. Their personal stories were captivating and their knowledge of the issues impressive.”

The New York Student Aid Alliance is a coalition of colleges and universities and other stakeholder organizations that support funding vital student aid programs in New York State.