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Full-Time Faculty (2010-11)

Rick Leith
Assistant Professor, English
English and World Languages Division

Rick Leith inspires faculty and staff to an outstanding degree with his highly creative and innovative approaches to learning, and he excels at connecting with diverse student populations, such as first-year and developmental students, veterans, and adult learners. His extraordinary dedication is put into practice in so many visible ways, including co-leading Alternative Winter Breaks in the Dominican Republic and New York City, co-facilitating the First-Year Experience Faculty Learning Community “Education Through Action, Service Learning and the First Year Experience,” frequently co-presenting on topics such as brain-based learning and teaching writing with music and with “media that matters”; designing local service learning opportunities for students, such as their current series of writing projects that concentrate on Merriweather Post Pavilion so students, while mastering their course objectives, are making significant contributions to the collection of local history housed at Columbia Archives; partnering with students, interdisciplinary faculty, student activities, the library, and other staff to plan and design significant learning experiences around “Celebrate Your Right to Read” (Banned Books Week); involving over 90% of his students in the texts and co-curricular events of the Howard County Book Connection project, and by organizing students, staff, and faculty as Poetry Police to celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day. Rick’s capacity to inspire within and beyond the classroom was especially demonstrated last year when he overcame a major health challenge with transparency, courage, and a strong commitment to healing. His division colleagues say, “With his very visible commitment to student learning, Rick is an outstanding and inspirational colleague who goes the extra mile to share and apply great ideas and resources. He exemplifies a collaborative, connective, can-do spirit. He represents the best among us.”

Renée Barger
Instructor, Dance; Coordinator of Dance
Arts and Humanities Division

This year, Renée Barger’s third year as a full-time instructor-level faculty member, has been a very productive one. In addition to maintaining a regular course load, coordinating HCC’s dance program and continuing her many professional development activities both inside and outside of HCC, she initiated a number of different projects. She continues to be involved with faculty forum by serving as the Arts and Humanities representative to the Executive Board. She is continuing a multi-tier, 6-year project for Learning Outcomes Assessment that will systematically go through the core of the required courses for the Dance major. Renée also began a multi-year accreditation process for the National Association of Schools of Dance. In response to the modification of the General Education Requirements, she redesigned the pathway and curriculum for Dance Performance majors, writing and/or modifying 34 courses last year and 11 courses this year, again refining the Dance program. She also took this opportunity to redefine the mission of our Dance program in accordance with the mission of HCC.

Here are only some of Renée’s accomplishments. She directed the Arts Collective Student Dance Showcase, where for the first time our students participated in residencies with recognized local choreographers and performance artists. She was the recipient of the Sharon Schmickley Faculty Fund for International Travel for her work with the dancers of Oxford University’s Freefall Dance Company and subsequent performance at Oxfringe. This project culminated on May 16, 2010 with a performance at Megapolis with HCC students performing the work she set on the Oxford students! An unexpected highlight of last year was her involvement with the emerging Arts Advocates of Maryland Citizens for the Arts. This group works to promote Arts Advocacy in Maryland and Renée discovered that she has the ability, passion and power to make a real difference and she looks forward to continuing her work in arts advocacy with this group in the future. She volunteers as an advisor in Admissions and Advising, as well as an Arts and Humanities representative at “Meet Your Major” events. She arranged dance workshops in: Partnering, Candomble, Bollywood, Bhrata Natyam, House, Samba, Afro-Cuban, Jazz, Limon, Horton, Congalese, and Afro-Brazilian. She also arranged for guest teachers, exposing students to local professional dancers/choreographers, including Lindsey Hedrick, the Moving Company (Towson); Kim Vetter (Catonsville); Ronald Burton (Columbia); Conrad Rochester (NYC); David Castro (Baltimore); Anneleise Parisi (Washington, DC). She provided artistic direction and choreography for both the first HCC Faculty Dance Concert and the Student Dance Company Performances. In the spring semester she assists Nicole McClam with organizing the Howard County Community Celebration of Dance. Renée also does recruiting via the Maryland Council for Dance Festival.

Some of Renée’s professional activities included: setting repertory of Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh; observing master classes in Bharata Natyam from internationally recognized master teachers; teaching and choreographic residency with Oxford University Freefall Dancers; studying Improvisation and Contact Improvisation technique classes with Charlie Morrissey; performing at Oxford Fringe Festival (Oxfringe); performing and original choreography at Megapolis Music Festival; and guest teaching contemporary ballet for the Carroll County Dance Center. Renée is a member of and meets with the Maryland Area Community College Performing Arts Collective (MACCPAC) and is a member of the Maryland Citizen for the Arts Emerging Advocates (Arts Advocacy Activities). The Arts and Humanities division is very proud to have such an innovative, energetic faculty member and such creative talent as Renée Barger!

Brian Kelly
Instructor, Business; Coordinator of Accounting
Business and Computer Systems Division

Brian has been a critical leader in the redevelopment of the Accounting program and innovative techniques of driving student success. As the Coordinator of the Accounting program he has led the way in developing and receiving approval from the Maryland Higher Education Commission for an AA degree in Accounting and a Certificate of Bookkeeping. These programs are the first of their kind in the state of Maryland for community colleges. Brian has provided tremendous guidance in systematically building articulations for the AA degree that will benefit our students in transfer. This degree is a most difficult degree for which to secure articulations because of the ownership that the four-year schools maintain in this discipline. Subsequently, students are already poised to move into the degree. Accounting is listed as the number two area nationally that is in need of professionals.

Brian has also been driving the gateway course effort in ACCT-111 with his team to increase student success rates. As a gateway course his team has looked at both the pedagogy of the course and the true deployment of teaching excellence in the classroom. This effort has involved the selection of a new textbook with an online platform. The excellent training and redesign of the course by objective and topic were fully completed. His training of adjunct faculty and his team approach to this redesign have maximized the results that currently have been achieved. This is not a redevelopment of one course, but the reconceptualization of a series of courses that provides a basis for the business student and the CPA.

Brian himself is an excellent teacher who not only receives high ratings from his students but also receives much praise for his work outside of the classroom with his students. He has translated this skill into methodically rehiring and retraining adjunct faculty. He has further refined the tutoring and supplemental support for students through creative venues. Brian has provided leadership to the cluster that is measured in gateway and upper-level successes. Brian has led the way in redesigning the class schedule to better accommodate students and create stronger pathways to movement through the curriculum. It is one thing to stabilize your methodology within your own classroom, but he has provided the guidance and direction to stabilize other classrooms and other courses. Brian has been able to connect with the Maryland State Board of Accountancy and has garnered expertise, support and assistance to our students that would not otherwise be available.

Of special note is that as Global Accounting Standards begin to emerge as a critical change in business standards, Brian has been able to work with his team this year to begin this transition and provide visionary steps to accomplish this important goal. Brian has also taken on the responsibility of developing two hybrid courses that will be deployed in fall 2011. Brian has further been a participant in the Smartthinking Tutoring package and is working with faculty and students to initiate this effort.

When you talk about an outstanding teacher you are talking about someone who brings connection and success for the student. Brian can demonstrate this connection by the follow-up enrollments that can be shown from ACCT-111 to -112 and also the level of student contact that he has made. As a coordinator he has been extremely involved with working to resolve student issues throughout the program. This one-on-one approach and student-focused effort has had a tremendous impact on our students. He is truly a collaborative leader and teacher of the students.

Laura Sessions
Professor, Nursing
Health Sciences Division

Laura Sessions is an excellent educator who advocates for the success and well-being of her students. She is innovative and creative in the classroom, and welcomes the challenge of finding ways to make difficult concepts easier to learn. Laura has been a forerunner in simulation within the college and within our state. She volunteered to be a part of a statewide multi-site simulation project in a partnership with Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Additionally, Laura has spent hours, over and above those included in her load, creating simulation scenarios to be infused into the curriculum.

Laura models clinical excellence, and is committed to ensuring that the students in her course are held to a high standard. Most recently, Laura has incorporated QSEN standards into simulation that is used in the pediatric nursing course. Using QSEN standards within the nursing curriculum is a recent national initiative for nursing education. Laura will be presenting the at the 2011 QSEN conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June.

Laura has had an interest in international education and as the opportunity presented itself, traveled to Ghana, West Africa to further the partnership that the Nurse Education program has with the Premier Nurses Training College. Laura has been instrumental in helping to raise awareness about life and nursing education in Ghana. She has also been helpful in raising funds to support the Premier Nurses Training College. Because of the efforts of Laura and other persons at Howard Community College this school in Ghana is the first private nursing school to become accredited.

In addition to all that she does, Laura finds time to mentor other faculty, and is a model nurse educator. Two years ago, Laura became the second nursing faculty at HCC to become a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE). The CNE examination is challenging and requires extensive study. After receiving her CNE, Laura, along with one other faculty, formed a faculty learning community with nursing faculty and facilitated the group study for the CNE exam. More than twelve nursing faculty were inspired, and joined the group in preparation for the exam.

Laura is outstanding for her professionalism, faculty support, innovative teaching strategies, service and clinical excellence.

Russ Baker
Associate Professor, Mathematics
Mathematics Division

Russ Baker has been selected by the Mathematics Division for their teaching excellence award for 2010-2011. For several years Russ has worked with Jenny Penniman and Caroline Torcaso to implement changes to MATH-067 that have included multiple field tests and refinements to the publisher’s grade book option. He is the liaison between the team and the Hawkes publishers and also helps to resolve technical issues for students from all of the sections. He does an outstanding job of coordinating the efforts needed to help with the implementation of the software both in and out of the classroom, and has helped to incorporate a quiz option across all sections of MATH-067. As coordinators, Jenny and Carrie praise the assistance and support they have received from Russ on these projects. This spring the division decided to investigate moving toward using online testing features for developing our exams for MATH-061 and MATH-067. Russ is taking the lead on this endeavor and has already explored the various testing options and has begun writing drafts of the exams. Russ is also our AFAACT representative and Math Awareness Leader. He has done an exceptional job of researching questions for the jeopardy game in order to blend math and music and keep the questions at a level that all students can solve. Russ is a creative instructor and works to help students learn how to learn. He belongs to a Learning Community and spends time discussing pedagogy with other colleagues in an effort to improve his teaching and teach across the curriculum. He has implemented study skills in all of his classes and continues to show students throughout his discussions how to best take notes and use “self-talk” in order to help them understand and recall material. He has a wonderful rapport with his students and he cares. Russ is also a Step UP coach. He attends the workshops as well as collaborates with other coaches in order to learn how to best coach our students.

Jennifer Stott
Instructor, Physical Science
Science and Technology Division

Jennifer is an enthusiastic member of the science division teaching a diverse course load that at times includes Geology, Earth and Space science, Oceanography, and Astronomy. She has embraced alternative learning formats and is always incorporating new technologies into her courses. This is demonstrated by her redesign of the geology online lab and her spearheading the organization and execution of both the new Geology and the new Earth and Space science hybrid courses. Jennifer welcomes the challenges associated with new technologies and as the division’s E-Coordinator, she works to keep her division up-to-date on changes in CE6. Jennifer works diligently with science adjuncts bringing them up to speed on CE6 and making sure their questions and issues are resolved in a timely manner. Jennifer is also the faculty forum representative to the cross-functional technology team and a member of the FAST team.

Jennifer brings a hands-on approach to the classroom and is always excited to be out in the field with her students. On a given class day you may find her class outside studying rocks on the campus or out on the weekend looking at geologic formations in Howard County and at a star watch party observing the sky in the evenings. Comments on Jennifer’s IDEA surveys reflect these observations, “I like the hands-on experience and how it applied to real professions” and “I enjoyed how the subjects in this course really made a difference in my major. The instructor made complicated subjects easy to understand which made [it] all the easier to learn.” Jennifer is an active participant in the sustainability FPLC leading trips to local recycling facilities and discussions on energy resources. Jennifer sits on the Maryland Geological Survey Data Preservation Advisory Panel which is a diverse group of scientists dedicated to documenting, preserving, and disseminating geologic data in Maryland and she participates yearly in the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab’s Girl Power Event which is a program aimed at middle and high school girls to encourage their interest in STEM careers.

Barbara Maestas
Assistant Professor, Teacher Education
Social Sciences and Teacher Education Division

dBarbara Maestas is evaluated as a caring and effective teacher education professor. She has served on the Curriculum & Instruction and General Education Committees and has shown herself to be an indispensable representative for our division. She interacts with the HCPS officials and represents the college in many local and state education meetings. Barbara is responsible for the content and quality of our Reading certification courses. Often she is consulted by four-year institutions for her input and evaluation. Maestas conducts workshops and interacts through the Teacher Academy with public school teachers. She is revising the Teacher Education Handbook, is developing a National Honor Society for Teacher Education majors, and is our Teacher Education liaison at LCC with PGCC faculty. Barbara also conducts training workshops with HCPS where she is developing portfolio guidelines. Another mainstream project involves “Maryland Outcomes for Teacher Preparation” that focuses on the instruction of fundamental research tools through information literacy. She is collecting a good deal of this information from her pathways EDUC-110 courses.