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October 11, 2021

The Faculty Academy for Teaching in Non-Traditional Fields

On Friday, September 17, 2021, the Division of Academics, Student Affairs, and Research at the System Office celebrated the completion of the Faculty Academy for Teaching in Non-Traditional Fields. The Faculty Academy was developed to address the gaps seen in the annual performance reporting for Perkins V funding. Perkins V, also known as The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, is a federal grant that supports career and technical education by developing the academic knowledge and technical and employability skills of secondary and postsecondary students who elect to enroll in career and technical education programs of study. As part of this endeavor, Perkins measures successful performance in the use of funding by determining the percentage of students who are enrolled in non-traditional programs. Non-traditional is defined in the Perkins legislation as an occupation or field of work for which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25 percent of those employed.

By partnering with Engineer Inclusion, participating faculty were guided through the process of evaluating college data to use as the basis of a root cause analysis. The root cause analysis was used to identify causes or underlying factors that may contribute to gaps within non-traditional fields. Faculty developed hypotheses that were tested via surveys and other methods to measure the validity of their claims. Based on those findings, faculty determined next steps to implement strategies to close the gaps that exist in the recruitment and retention of students who pursue a career in non-traditional fields.

The faculty who participated represented 8 technical colleges and work in computer technology, early childcare, engineering, office administration, and healthcare and nursing. We at the System office are proud of their accomplishments and leadership in this program. Faculty are listed below, and you can see their full profile here.

I would like to thank my fellow System Office staff who made this Faculty Academy possible – Dr. Rosline Sumpter, Dr. Kimberly Walker, & Kim Burkett. Additionally, we are thankful to Dr. Meagan Pollock of Engineer Inclusion who assisted in taking the idea of the Faculty Academy and making it a reality. Dr. Pollock facilitated the learning sessions and helped faculty analyze data to ultimately create the intervention strategies to be used.


Kelli Boniecki
Early Childcare & Education

Technical College of the Lowcountry

Laura Boone
Cardiovascular Technology

Piedmont Technical College

Kiwanna Brackett
Administrative Office Technology

York Technical College

Stacie Dobson
Administrative Office Technology

York Technical College

Kristopher Gillespie

Horry-Georgetown Technical College

Sherisse Jackson

Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College

Jan Kehn
Administrative Office Technology

Spartanburg Community College

Kathy Locke
Administrative Office Technology

Spartanburg Community College

JoAnn Mack
Computer Technology

Florence-Darlington Technical College

Laura McClain
Medical Assisting

Tri-County Technical College

Marian Nurse
Administrative Office Technology

Midlands Technical College

Edith Simuel
Administrative Office Technology

Midlands Technical College

Jasmine Smith
Administrative Office Technology

York Technical College


Submitted by Emily Fox. In her role, Emily supports the technical colleges as they implement the Perkins V federal grant which supports career and technical education. She also coordinates the Teaching and Learning Tuesday webinar series.

August 10, 2021

The Division of Academics, Student Affairs and Research values equitable access for the students of the SC Technical College System and would like to share some information on how Open Educational Resources (OERs) may benefit students and faculty. OER use is on the rise as students and faculty look to increased affordability and flexibility in the course resources available to them on their educational journeys.

What are Open Educational Resources (OERs)?

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. OERs include:

  • Full courses
  • Course materials
  • Modules
  • Textbooks
  • Streaming videos
  • Tests
  • Software
  • Any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge

Due to the nature of them being open, OERs are substantially cheaper than traditional textbooks or are entirely free.

How does OER help educators and students?

Open educational resources give educators the ability to adapt instructional resources to the individual needs of their students, to provide up to-date resources, and to ensure that cost is not a barrier to accessing high-quality, standards aligned resources. New OERs are created everyday by faculty across a variety of career areas.

Great OER Databases:

Several professional development opportunities exist to assist newcomers and the well-seasoned in OER use. Some conferences and workshops include the Open Education Conference, Open Education Consortium’s OEGlobal Conference, and the Online Learning Consortium offers workshops both synchronously and asynchronously. OER Commons has a series of pre-recorded OER webinars on their website covering the curation of materials for your course, authoring your own open materials, and remixing resources already available. The Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries (PASCAL) has the South Carolina Affordable Learning (SCALE) initiative and regularly hosts webinars on OERs and offers grants for affordable learning projects.

Some exciting and upcoming resources include a collaborative space for SC Technical System faculty to create and share OERs as well as a landing page to include additional information to assist in OER use and implementation. Stay tuned!

Submitted by Alexis Modzelesky. As the Curriculum Coordinator, Alexis oversees approval of new programs, courses, annual program evaluation and is working to develop additional OER use by the Technical Colleges to better serve our students in a more accessible and equitable way.

July 21, 2021

Did you know that July 24th is International Self-Care Day? As professionals, it is important that we not only effectively manage our job duties but that we do it in a way that is balanced and good for our mental health. Austin Floyd sat down with Betty Dixon, Administrative Coordinator for the Division of Academics, Student Affairs and Research, to understand the strategies she uses to achieve personal and professional self-care. Here is a snippet of that conversation.


Austin: Thanks for taking time to talk with me about what you do to balance the responsibilities of your role within the division as well as your personal life. So, let’s just jump right in it. What do you do to be at peace and just relax?

Betty: Well, I like to read historical books, listen to music, and kinda like do meditation…

Austin: Meditation?

Betty: No, not the “Huuuuumm” with my legs crossed and eyes closed, but just going outside to absorb the sun, the silence, and the smell. Feeling the breeze, listening to the birds, and looking up at the sky reminds me where I am and who I am. Sometimes, I close my eyes to create a mental picture of everything I feel around me.

There’s a quote by L. R. Knost that says, “When life feels too big to handle, go outside. Everything looks smaller when you are standing under the sky.” That has always stuck with me.

Austin: That’s so awesome, I read a Harvard study that said, 47% of active awake adults do not pay attention to what they are doing in the moment. That’s great that you take time to pause, breathe and connect your body with your surroundings. What happens when professional/work stress builds up? Do you use the same strategies to remain effective?

Betty: A lot of times after work, [or even sometimes during my lunch break because I live nearby] I play video games… Usually a beat ‘em up, slash the monsters game. That helps me to disengage and give my mind a break so I can reapproach work with new strategies.

I also learned that some sources of work stress derived from me comparing myself to others [whether a co-worker, a parent, or someone I admired] or from striving toward unrealistic standards of perfection. I had to have a reality check and go back to the real me instead of trying to copy areas that are not true to who I am. Being ok with me and accepting who I am helps me unload a lot of baggage so I can approach work in a more authentic way.

Austin: You are dropping knowledge bombs over here. I appreciate the real talk because it helps people. My professor said, ‘Instead of trying to change your reality, first sit with it and accept it as what is true right now in the present. Then, after you’ve accepted and understood its reality, take steps to change it. At times, I’ve been so stressed out with worries of the future or burdened by things of the past, that I forgot to live and remember what is possible in the present. Living in the present and being authentic are great strategies. Thank you. 

Betty: You’re welcome.

Austin: What song is that playing in the background on your computer?

Betty: This is just my YouTube Playlist.

Austin: Who are these people? The Tractors? Solomon Burke? Lloyd Price? Etta James… I’ve heard of her. Wield of Power, All She Wants To Do Is Dance, Blurred Lines, Kanye West? Okkkk Ms. Betty! Blackstreet- No Diggity, Rihanna, Bob Dillon, Cheap Thrills, Despacito… It gets better and better… Taylor Swift, Marvin Gaye, Prince… Omg… is that Lauryn Hill, Killing me Softly?

You have a really diverse list… Sly and the Family Stone? Who’s that?

Betty: Oh wow, have you never heard Everyday People by Sly and Family Stone? It’s one of my favorites. Let me play it.

[Conversation continues with Sly and Family Stone, Everyday People, playing in the background]


The summer months can be filled with diverse realities. For some, kids are out of school and are at home more. Summer is also a time of taking vacations and making memories with family and friends. Yet for others, it is a time of planning and preparation for what may be coming next. The way we decide to take care of ourselves during summer is essential to how we enter the new academic year. Whether you teach in the classroom, support students through various services, or work behind the scenes in a research or administrative role, schedule time this summer and on July 24th (International Self-Care Day) to take care of yourself and your personal/professional needs.

Submitted by Austin Floyd and Betty Dixon.

May 20, 2021

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the South Carolina Rider Education Program would like to share a few tips to help keep drivers and motorcyclists safer on the roads.

While these tips will go a long way to improve rider safety, nothing can replace the skills and knowledge obtained from professional training. If you would like to learn how to ride a motorcycle safely and effectively check out the training opportunities offered by the SC Technical Colleges by clicking this link.

5 Tips for Drivers

  1. Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles. Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car's blind spots. Check, then check again, before changing lanes or making a turn.
  2. Predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks. A motorcycle may look farther away than it is because of its small size, and it may be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed.
  3. Keep a safe distance. Motorcyclists often slow by rolling off the throttle or downshifting, thus not activating the brake light, so allow more following distance, about 3 to 4 seconds.
  4. Use turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if it seems that no other vehicle is nearby. Motorcycles often disappear into drivers’ blind-spots. Your use of a turn signal will alert the motorcyclist to your intentions even if you do not see them.
  5. See the person. When a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle, see the person who could be your friend, neighbor, or relative.

5 Tips for Riders

  1. Be visible. Motorists often have trouble seeing motorcycles, so wear bright clothing gear. Avoid riding in blind spots of cars and trucks. If possible, flash your brake light when slowing down or stopping.
  2. Gear up every ride. Wear proper riding gear from head to toe. Full-face helmets provide the best protection. Jackets, pants, gloves, and boots that are made specifically for riding will generally be made of abrasion-resistant material, include protective armor, and provide additional comfort.
  3. Use good riding strategies. Constantly search the road for changing conditions and use the Search-Evaluate-Execute strategy (SEE) to assess and respond to hazards before you must react to an emergency.
  4. Inspect your bike. Your pre-ride check includes inspecting tires/wheels, fluids, cables, chassis, lights/electronics, and stands. This inspection checklist is helpful.
  5. Get trained! The greatest safety feature of every motorcycle is the mind of the rider. Develop your safety feature with professionals who are dedicated to help you enjoy the ride while reducing risk. For course and enrollment information visit or contact us at

Submitted by Sean McCullough. Sean is a motorcycle training professional who is dedicated to improving rider safety in South Carolina through education and training.

April 15, 2021

The Division of Academics, Student Affairs, and Research recognizes the social value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as its importance to the success of students in the SC Technical College System. We believe that everyone benefits from embracing different perspectives, recognizing various leadership styles, and leveraging the strengths of all employees. To support colleges in this area, we offer faculty trainings, host Teaching and Learning Tuesday webinars, and engage System peer groups who share valuable ideas with one another.

The past few years, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has been at the forefront of news media. The call for social change during the Summer of 2020 and the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable communities has led to a re-evaluation of how students and staff experience Higher Education. Our Division is committed to helping everyone rise, and promotes equity through technical assistance, professional development, and engagement activities. We also perform routine equity audits at the colleges to ensure services meet the needs of all individuals on campus. These audits include a review of enrollment and graduates by race and gender, the ratio of faculty and non-faculty employment by race and gender, any Office for Civil Rights (OCR)-identified case activity, and one-on-one interviews with students and administrators.  While such audits are a start, reflection remains the backbone of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as it helps colleges assess pathways for improvement. For example, when a student sees more faculty and administrators that look like them, or experiences culturally sensitive classrooms it creates equitable opportunities for additional learning tailored to that particular student.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion requires us to take a bold look at potential blind spots and find innovative solutions to change systems that are no longer meeting the needs of our local communities. As we head into this new decade, our Division is committed to supporting our colleges on this path. We will be hosting our first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Institute during the 2021-2022 academic year. Details will be sent out later this year.

Submitted by Dr. Eric Brown and Austin Floyd. Dr. Brown is the Associate Vice President & Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator for Student Affairs. In this role, Dr. Brown advocates for students and promotes inclusive educational environments and safe spaces that afford students the opportunity to maximize their personal and professional potential. Austin is a vibrant, sagacious, and down-to-earth educational catalyst. He creatively communicates progressive educational truths and offers alternative perspectives to higher education challenges. When he’s not writing his doctoral dissertation or hanging with his 9-year-old son, he’s binging episodes of This Is Us & Survivor, swimming laps at the pool, taking trips with his cousins, or eating some really good food.

March 22, 2021

The Division of Academics, Student Affairs, and Research values professional development. It is a fundamental way in which the Division strives to achieve its mission to be known for bold, innovative, and sustainable practices that promote student success. From special topic trainings and intensive institutes to the monthly Teaching and Learning Tuesdays, the Division regularly engages college faculty and staff connecting them to relevant, research-based, and actionable information. This month, the Division launched a virtual Faculty Academy for Teaching in Non-traditional Fields and later this year will welcome the next cohort into the highly regarded Leadership Academy.

In honor of Women’s History, this month’s blog is dedicated to women in higher education, specifically their professional development.

There are many professional associations within higher ed. Here in South Carolina, we have two that tailor content and support to women in higher education:  the South Carolina American Association for Women in Community Colleges (SCAAWCC) and the South Carolina Women in Higher Education (SCWHE). Just last month SCWHE hosted its first virtual conference with over 300 in attendance. On April 15, SCAAWCC will host its first virtual conference as well. Female-identifying attendees will be encouraged to focus on their positions, perspectives, and possibilities as they hear from Piedmont Technical College’s first female and woman of color president, Dr. Hope Rivers.  Several vice presidents from across the system will speak about diversity and leadership and attendees will have the opportunity to have a little fun with a virtual silent auction. Registration is still open and includes the option to bundle membership with the national organization, the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC).

Women working across the technical college system are encouraged to get plugged into professional organizations. Regional and state organizations are especially great for fostering authentic engagement without unrealistic demands on time and resources. Email the Division at if you’d like to learn more about upcoming development opportunities.

Submitted by Dr. Aimeé Carter. Dr. Carter’s professional mission is to create opportunities for career and professional development through experience and education. As the Director of Academic Partnerships and Engagement, she oversees statewide development of dual enrollment and system-wide transfer.

February 18, 2021

The Division of Academics, Student Affairs and Research is known for bold, innovative and sustainable practices that promote student success. With 12 employees championing student success, the division builds the capacity of educators to connect with essential resources and collaborate with key individuals on common goals. 

Over the past two decades, the division once known as Academic Affairs has grown and evolved. Taking on an ever-expanding body of work, its employees are energized and motivated by their mission. What started out as a focus on academics and small group collaboration has evolved into a full suite of technological and professional development services designed to engage and inspire.  

The formation of peer groups (cohorts of employees who perform the same functions at the college level) dominated the early 2000s. Through these groups, the division saw a clear statewide need for intentional support and training, kickstarting a focus on new professional development opportunities geared towards the 16 colleges. 

In 2012, the first faculty academy launched. Originally held over many months, the program was refined over time. By Spring 2019 it was known as the “Faculty Institute”, an intense one-day in-person session focusing on trending topics. September 2012 brought the division’s first technology conference. Over 300 attendees engaged with Apple, Microsoft, Google and other Big Tech. In January 2013, the division launched its new series “Teaching and Learning Tuesday” in response to the demand this Bellwether-finalist conference generated. TLTs, as they are known, are now a staple of the division’s suite of services. 

As the 2010s wore on, focus fell on serving educators in funding, policy, compliance, and research roles. More training opportunities evolved as well as work on dual enrollment and statewide transfer. The division also continued developing and supporting its 19 peer groups related to student services, academics, institutional effectiveness, Chief Academic Officers and Chief Students Services Officers. The division’s advancement in these areas led to a name change that fully captured these efforts: Academics, Student Affairs, and Research. Most recently, the division successfully navigated a global pandemic, crafted a new stance on diversity and inclusion, and on-boarded several employees virtually. 

The division’s future focus will center on a well-defined suite of signature services and events. It will also continue to serve as an information resource and coordinating body on matters ranging from curriculum approvals, program evaluation, and student services.

Be on the lookout for additional blog posts that will further explore the suite of services offered by the Division of Academics, Student Affairs and Research and its bold, innovative, and sustainable practices that promote student success. 

Submitted by LISA COLE. Lisa spends her days chasing four kids and loving life. Education, books and family drive her heart! When not providing programmatic support to Academic Partnerships and Compliance within the Division, you’ll find her over in the publishing world guiding local Midlands authors and illustrators as they bring their story vision to life.