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Meet Our New CODFA President by Ken Gray
south loop: the movie by John Rangel
Making the Difference by Jackie McGrath
Ida Hagman - 2010 Outstanding Educator in Humanities by Nicole Matos
Meet Our New CODFA President by Ken Gray
I have just completed my first month as the President of the COD Faculty Association. I have to confess that for a long time I never thought I would be able to say something like that. Thirteen months ago, I had never even been a faculty senator.
For those of you who do not know me, I am a Professor of Psychology. I joined the full-time faculty at COD in 1997. Ben Whisenhunt, our new chair of Welfare, was also in the New Faculty Class of 1997. I am a co-advisor of the Psi Beta Psychology Society and have been involved in several other student clubs over my years at COD, including the Endowment for Future Generations and the Shotokan Karate Club (which, sadly, has been disbanded because of liability issues—it is only a rumor that I was teaching students the "Touch of Death" that I learned from Bart Simpson).
Please allow me to briefly describe a couple of my primary goals as president. First, I believe that it is essential for us to build and improve relationships. I am deeply committed to cultivating strong ties with stakeholders throughout the college. I will work toward the day that full-time faculty, part-time faculty, classified personnel, administrators, the Board of Trustees, and students all see each other as partners in achieving the mission of the College of DuPage to be THE "center for excellence in teaching, learning, and cultural experiences by providing accessible, affordable, and comprehensive education."
Second, I am committed to fostering open communication and promoting a sense of ownership and unity within the Association. I want all full-time faculty members at COD to feel that the Association is OUR Association. I have begun writing a CODFA This Week newsletter; please look for it in your email every Monday morning to learn about Senate activities for the upcoming and previous week. In addition to my commitment to open and frequent outgoing communication, I will also be making it easier for individual Association members to communicate back to me. For example, stop by the Association office on a Monday or Tuesday to have lunch. Stay tuned for more opportunities to make your voice heard. If you ever feel that the Association is not adequately representing or listening to you, please let me know.
Finally, here are a couple of items to keep in mind. We are holding an election on March 2 for the National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly, which will be held June 30-July 5, 2011 in Chicago. Please consider running for this important role. Contact Mary Konkel, our Elections Committee chair, by February 24 to get on the ballot. If you would like some information about the experience, please talk to Bob Hazard, Dilyss Gallyot, Jackie McGrath, or Nancy Stanko; they have all attended in recent years.
And be sure to read Jackie McGrath's column in this issue. The Board of Trustees election is right around the corner, and Friends for Education could sure use your help.
south loop: the movie by John Rangel
Before I started teaching at College of DuPage, I had been trying to get a number of movie projects off the ground. And when I arrived at COD in the fall of 2007, it seemed clear that those projects wouldn't get produced any time soon. The following spring, a good friend of mine, an actor, called, and we shared our frustrations about not being able to get our projects made. At that point, he offered to put in a little of his own money to shoot something. My wife generously agreed to let me put in some of our money so that I could produce a movie that summer.
And that laid the groundwork for south loop.
The narrative for south loop came from several sources. I knew a few people in real estate and they shared their opinions on the housing bubble and eventual burst. I had also met people who were involved with some behind-the-scenes elements in putting together Chicago's bid for the Olympics. They told me about efforts to rid low-income neighborhoods of homeowners so the land could be put up for big profits should the city win the bid.
This all served as a backdrop for the story of south loop. It begins in 2005 and follows RICK TORRES (played by my friend and fellow producer Juan Ramirez) as he gets into real estate with the help of his longtime girlfriend. As he quickly prospers, he leaves her behind in their old working-class neighborhood; he moves into a high-priced condo in Chicago's emerging South Loop neighborhood. Soon thereafter, he meets and falls hard for another woman, a recent transplant to the city. But it's now 2007 and the market is plummeting. He struggles to maintain his lifestyle as the market, and his savings, dry up. This causes him to doubt that he can hold onto his upwardly mobile girlfriend. Rick comes to see he could lose everything he worked so hard to get.
I now realize that making this movie could have never happened had the MP/TV Department not hired me. It is there where I met some of the most important collaborators I would eventually hire to work on south loop, including former students Kirk Johnson, Edgar Velazquez and David Rokos. Together, we shot the movie in the summer of 2008, and the movie was completed this past fall.
As you may know, south loop had its Chicago premiere this past December. Seeing and hearing my movie in a theater and in front of an audience was an overwhelmingly satisfying experience, one I won't forget any time soon.
All told, it has been a three-year journey that continues today. We are in the process of organizing a Los Angeles premiere and hope to screen around the county via the film festival circuit. The DVD is also for sale on our website. We are also in the process of organizing a screening at COD for late winter/early spring. I would love to see you there.
Making the Difference by Jackie McGrath
I am the offspring of two union teachers. My father, a COD faculty emeritus whom many of you know, taught at Chicago Vocational High School for twenty years before he got a job at COD when I was twelve years old. I remember he would come home from a day of teaching college classes, and walk in the door with a rueful smile. He couldn't believe his luck! If he had an idea, his boss would say, "How can I help you?" If he wanted to take his class on a field trip to the Ernest Hemingway museum in Oak Park, the administrative assistant arranged for a bus and the department paid for the students' tickets. And unlike his high school students, the college students (for the most part) showed up to class. They read the homework, answered his questions, and wrote their essays. It was a dream job—a pleasure every day. Obviously, it made an impression on me.
My mother stayed home with me and my two siblings for many years, but returned to teaching fourth grade at a south suburban public school when I was nine years old. Some nights, she was exhausted after a long day of teaching, nodding sleepily over a pile of papers in front of the evening news. One year, after she'd been back to teaching for several years, and had earned some seniority, she was having a conference with a parent about a badly behaved student. The parent became upset, began yelling, and became violent. She stood up from the meeting with my mother, grabbed a desk, and threw it across the room. Police were called, reports were filed, and when the dust settled, the school superintendent declared my mother to blame for the altercation. I don't remember many details, but I know at that point she turned to her local union and her principal for help. They advocated for her, met with the superintendent, and procured an apology, but she never forgot how the superintendent unfairly faulted her for the parent's actions that day. And she knew the union helped advocate for her rights, and what was fair and truthful. Later, she chose to become a building representative, and eventually, the vice president of her local. She knew, on one level, that the union helped her when she was in crisis, and she felt a sense of loyalty and responsibility to help her union in return.
The truth is, I think many teachers turn to their unions only when they experience a crisis. Whether it's a problem with a parent, or a student, or an administrator, or a board member, we rely on the collective knowledge and shared power of the union to advocate for us when we are put on the defensive by an accusation or a complicated situation. But in the course of a normal work week, or a regular day, the business of the union seems abstract and unimportant. It's there, in the background, or in evidence in our paycheck deductions, but for most of us, barring the occasional crisis, we go about our work quite happily.
But the strength of our union—our local, the IEA, the NEA—lies in some of the day to day work. We need a strong, thoughtful Faculty Senate. We need our colleagues to step up for annual duties, like the IEA Representative Assembly or Welfare. And we need to be involved in one of the things the union does best these days: political action. There is no question that Illinois unions played a significant role in the reelection of Governor Quinn (like him or not, it was union phone banking and get-out-the-vote work that put him over the top). And there is no question that CODFA and our PAC, Friends for Education, played a significant role in our COD Board of Trustees election in 2009.
So as we move into the campaign season for the 2011 COD Board of Trustees election, I can only implore all of my colleagues to become involved in the work of the campaign. In so many ways, on a local level and on a national level, our political activity can make a real difference in our day-to-day work experiences. I think campaigning for good board members is what might enable us to go about doing our real work—teaching and researching and engaging with our colleagues and the community. That's what we care about at the end of the day, but we may have to get more involved in the short term to protect the things we value the most. That is, I think it's possible that some political action now will ensure some of us don't experience work place crises in the future. Or, if we do experience a crisis, helping with the political work now may strengthen and empower our union to help you in the future.
At the very least, as we move into this election season, think of the teachers you know—maybe your parents, like mine, were educators, too. Maybe many of your friends are teachers, at our college or at area high schools and grade schools. Think of the bad days they've had, and whether or not they had the help they needed to weather a workplace crisis or help a student in need. And remember that at the end of the day, our working conditions are our students' learning conditions. If we don't have what we need, or get the help and support that we need, our students don't, either. Using political activity to improve our workplace is bound to improve our students' educational experience! Please join in this spring—the election is April 5th, 2011. Please watch for a letter in the mail from me, and visit the Friends for Education website for more information.
Ida Hagman - 2010 Outstanding Educator in Community College Humanities by Nicole Matos
Ida Hagman was in the buffet line at the conference when asked if she could summarize her career in five sentences. In that circumstance, she recalled with a laugh, there are only two possibilities: you might be getting accolades, or you might be—a la Tony Soprano—getting whacked. Thankfully, of course, the case was the former, and it is a pleasure for me into introduce Ida as the 2010 Outstanding Educator for the Community College Humanities Association's Central Division.
The award reflects career achievement in the innovative teaching of the liberal arts—a major focus of Hagman's career since her earliest days at the College of DuPage in the mid-1980s. Then her "yeoman's work"—a phrase that reveals her lifelong interest in medieval history and literature—was primarily focused on the use of alternative delivery methods for instruction. She remembers fondly the use of 2-way video and other experimental methods that brought the humanities into neighborhood centers: "sort of the internet before the internet, hybrid teaching before there was hybrid teaching." She was a major contributor, as well, to the liberal arts curriculum within the College's Center for Independent Learning, a mode of delivery that highlights her commitment to individualized instruction.
The vividness and energy of Hagman's vision is represented in her CCHA conference presentations, which have included such topics as Shakespeare and The Sopranos, the life of pioneering black journalist Ida B. Wells, and a profile of the INMP project, an online global negotiations simulation. In The Sopranos, she finds a parallel to Shakespeare's Macbeth: "Of all Shakespeare's protagonists, Macbeth is the most like us. He's an Everyman, not royalty, and knows what is right, but does the wrong thing anyway. What's interesting is his narration of his conscience, of all his inner thoughts." This explicit self-knowledge is equally important to the character of Tony Soprano: "He's in therapy because he's got a consciousness of his own wrongdoing."
Her desire to share the lesser-known figure of Ida B. Wells with a wider audience stems from an impulse to offer "stories that sustain us, that fortify teachers, keeping us going as instructors and people." Born to slave parents shortly before Emancipation, Wells first gained notoriety for a lawsuit that challenged the basis of racial segregation. A talented writer, she campaigned against the horrors of lynching, often "using the words of white newspapers' against themselves."
Meanwhile, Hagman's presentation on the Illinois International Negotiations Module Project (IL-INMP) describes her use of a cross-curricular, cross-institutional web-based simulation in the teaching of research writing. Assigned to represent a country on an international issue, students compose policy proposals to be voted on by their peers. The project works not only because it models global citizenship, she explains, but also because it provides composition students with a "genuine audience and purpose."
Though retired from the full-time faculty in August 2010, Hagman continues to be a forerunner in the pedagogy of emerging technology—even wringing from her pliant interviewer a contribution for her classroom podcast (GarageBand, anyone?). On behalf of all of us, congratulations, Ida—an honor well-deserved.