Page 1


SPACES MCC experiments with flipped classroom model, page 3

Contents 2

Gifts that give


Embracing ‘the flip’


A near-space odyssey


Role model


Outside the classroom walls


Farm in the city

Education-themed gifts capture the spirit of the season

Flipped classroom model turns traditional education on its head

High-altitude balloons are students’ tools for scientific discovery

For mother, balancing school and family brings ‘priceless’ rewards

Instructors connect curriculum to community experiences


New program teaches the art of farming small


Career exploration


Strike a pose


Teacher internships make a splash


Spirit of service


Breaking bread


Green expertise


A greener roof


Inspiring innovation



Vital component: determining personal interests

MCC students bring diverse styles to campus


Business immersion helps teachers bring real-world tools to the classroom

MCC, UNO students unite during monthly volunteer events

Fund helps baker launch artisan bread business


Speaker series brings experts to campus

New structure showcases sustainable stormwater management

Mini-grant program supports students, rewards creative teaching

Applied Technology Center

Irvington location provides training for high-demand careers

1 • community •

Winter 2013

Volume 1, Issue 3

“Community” is a quarterly publication of Metropolitan Community College. Contact the editor at 402-457-2414 or Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Statement—Metropolitan Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, age, disability or sexual orientation in admission or access to its programs and activities or in its treatment or hiring of employees.

Gifts that give Education-themed gifts capture the spirit of the season

Need a gift for that special someone but running short on ideas? MCC offers several options (sans crowded stores and parking nightmares) that can bring a smile and make a difference.

Support the arts

Eat well, while educating

Make a difference

Give the gift of learning

The Gallery of Art and Design recently opened the Commonwealth Gallery, offering a place for art students to display and sell their wares, including jewelry, T-shirts, paintings and other one-of-a-kind gift options. Purchases support art students and the gallery. Visit the gallery at the Elkhorn Valley Campus, 204th Street and West Dodge Road.

Gift cards to the Sage Student Bistro at the Institute for the Culinary Arts offer the gift of great food while supporting culinary arts and horticulture students. Located at the Fort Omaha Campus, the bistro offers lunch and fine dining. Chef-instructors and students manage the day-to-day operations and tend the MCC farmyard, greenhouse and garden — producing fresh ingredients for the menu. Call 402-457-2328 for more information.

For the man or woman who has everything, consider a donation in his or her honor to the MCC Foundation. Donations support scholarships, educational programs, arts and cultural events and make an immediate and lasting impact. Visit to learn more.

Give the gift that lasts a lifetime: education. Gift certificates for credit and noncredit classes are available at 402-457-2414 or Gift cards for books and supplies can be purchased through the MCC bookstores.

community • • 2

Embracing ‘the flip’ Flipped classroom model turns traditional education on its head


n a traditional Spanish class, students might listen to lectures and take tests in class, while completing exercises outside of school. In MCC instructor Dallas Jurisevic’s hybrid Spanish class, the opposite happens. Lecturing transpires outside the classroom (most often online), and “homework” happens during class via engaging activities, like an iPad-enhanced, student-created scavenger hunt. This reversal of the traditional teaching formula is what’s known as “the flip.” In K-12 schools and at colleges and universities, teachers are experimenting with the flipped classroom model and inverting conventional methods. At MCC, instructors say the flipped classroom encourages deeper learning, empowers students to take charge of their education and makes better use of class time. “Instead of trying to be the ‘sage on the stage,’ the flipped classroom puts students in charge of their learning and helps them take control of their future,” said automotive technology instructor Al Cox. “Teachers become the facilitator, not the entertainer.”

MCC’s typical flipped classroom is a hybrid course. Students meet face-to-face about 50 percent of the time, while the other half is replaced with online study and learning activities. Instead of meeting on campus twice per week, students come to class once a week with the expectation that they are ready and able to apply the course concepts that have been presented online. “A flipped classroom is all about applied learning,” said Tom McDonnell, dean of languages and visual arts. “Because the flipped model emphasizes application, the classroom is much more engaging.” In the past year, MCC’s hybrid course offerings have multiplied. Students can take hybrid classes in accounting, art history, chemistry, economics, healthcare information management systems, English, horticulture, IT, sociology, Spanish and more. The hybrid model allows students unique benefits, including the flexibility to choose classes and arrange study time according to their schedule. Instructors can devote more time in class to revisit difficult concepts, give instant feedback and provide individualized support. Plus, McDonnell said, students like the courses better. “Our retention in our hybrid Spanish classes is better than in our regular on-campus classes or our online classes,” he said.

3 • community •

Perspectives on the flipped classroom “Students take charge of their learning through group work, problem solving and other activities. The key to the flipped classroom is an active learning environment.” – Tom McDonnell, dean of languages and visual arts “What are the things you do every quarter and wind up repeating several times? Why not make them available to the students online, where they can review the material anytime they want, as many times as they want? This allows you to focus your time on individual training.” – Al Cox, automotive technology instructor “Students learn inductively in a hands-on environment with the latest technology and apps, which helps them learn Spanish and better prepares them for the workplace.” – Dallas Jurisevic, Spanish instructor

community • • 4

A near-space odyssey High-altitude balloons are students’ tools for scientific discovery


or physics instructor Kendra Sibbernsen, the mark of a successful student is one who can ask a good question.

For example: When the Darth Vader theme song is played on an mp3 player in near space, is there a difference in sound quality? What is the voltage of a solar panel in near space? How does cosmic radiation change with altitude? In Sibbernsen’s classes, students have the freedom to ask outside-of-the-box questions — and test them using the scientific process. With support from the NASA Nebraska Space Grant program, Sibbernsen and her students have launched several unmanned high-altitude balloons that fly

5 • community •

high into the stratosphere, reaching between 80,000 and 100,000 feet, just above where airplanes fly. Known as “near space,” the stratosphere is a relatively unexplored area of the Earth’s atmosphere. “Essentially, what we’ve been developing is a space program — near space,” Sibbernsen said. Sibbernsen’s high-altitude balloon program grew out of a need to create more meaningful lab experiences for students. Unsatisfied with a “cookbook-y” approach to lab work, she created projects that allowed students to pose their own scientific research questions, often using real data available online.

This inquiry-based experience lets students “start that questioning process, take the data, analyze it and share it, like real scientists,” she said. For the balloon project, students design the experiment — sending up radio transmitters, cameras, mp3 players, solar panels and more in the balloon’s payloads. After the balloon is launched, students follow in a chase vehicle, retrieve the

Citizen science Internet resources give students (and at-home space geeks) the same data as working researchers.

balloon, analyze the data and present their findings. Physics student Josh Gebbie impressed NASA’s Mark D. Moore with his experiment to test solar paneling efficiency at high altitudes; Gebbie received a NASA Nebraska Space Grant student fellowship to continue his research. Taking students out of the classroom into space empowers them to make scientific discoveries themselves. “It’s always an adventure,” Sibbernsen said. “Students feel ownership of their experiments.” Learn more about Sibbernsen’s high-altitude balloon program at

» » an open-source project for the visualization of solar and heliospheric data » » a citizen science portal with projects designed for volunteer participation » » an online astronomy project that invites people to help classify galaxies

community • • 6

Role model For mother, balancing school and family brings ‘priceless’ rewards


my Phillips understands the value of time management. Besides pursuing a degree at MCC, she’s the mother of two boys, ages 11 and 15, and caretaker of her ailing grandmother who has Alzheimer’s. She is a leader on her son’s school PTO and works on the school yearbook.

Based on the suggestions of friends, Phillips chose MCC to fit her busy schedule. This year Phillips was awarded the Edward & Lida Robinson Scholarship. After she graduates in 2014, she plans to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Bellevue University and become a licensed mental health practitioner and family therapist.

7 • community •

What drew you to psychology and sociology? I’ve always been the person who people come to with their problems and for support. I’m a nurturer, or what I call “a natural-born mom.” I tend to nurture everyone. The classes resonate with me and who I am.

Has MCC been a good fit for you? Absolutely! If MCC was a four-year school, I would stay all four years. I like being able to move forward without having to give up time with the kids. MCC has allowed me to do everything — with really good time management, of course!

What would you tell others interested in MCC? Don’t let fear get the best of you. I kept thinking, “I’m too old to go back to school. I’ve been out for 20 years! I don’t think I can do it!” Don’t think that. Just jump in and take one class. Give yourself an opportunity.

What does your education mean to you? It means so much. Being a parent, I’ve always pushed my kids to do their best and not take school for granted. As a student myself now, with my son in high school, I feel like I can speak from a place of not just sympathy but empathy. I can say, “School is hard but look at what you gain from it,” and I can validate my statement because of how hard I work. The value of bettering my own life and being a positive role model for my kids is priceless.

Outside the classroom walls Instructors connect curriculum to community experiences


hen faculty bring years of experience and connections to the classroom, students reap the benefits. Three MCC faculty members recently used their expertise to enhance the learning experience with unique outside-the-classroom excursions.

Dodge County Historical Society, as part of a project that reflects upon the history of Fremont and Dodge County. With museum director Jeff Kappeler, students toured the rooms in the former home of Theron Nye and discovered various artifacts.

Students in an introduction to paralegal studies class recently explored city and federal courtrooms and chatted with paralegals at Baird Holm law firm. Legal assistant instructor Jo Wandel set up the multi-visit experience to give students a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a paralegal. For student Tina Partridge, a former preschool teacher seeking a second career, the encounter was insightful. “It was nice to hear what people actually did and put a face to that job,” she said.

Wiebold said the interactive experience sought to give students new information about the community in which they live, while appreciating those who came before. Tapping local resources like the museum allows students to hone their academic writing and research skills while also strengthening their community ties. “Making reading relevant — that’s what we’re trying to do,” she said. “Students aren’t just learning things with no reason. They are applying the skills in the outside world.”

In Fremont, about 20 students in Sandy Wiebold’s college reading strategies class and Liz Kay’s English composition class explored the historic Louis May Museum, home of the community • • 8

farm in the city

New program teaches the art of farming small


estled in urban North Omaha, MCC’s new farmyard offers an idyllic escape from the city — and a living laboratory for students in the expanded Horticulture, Land Systems and Management program.

Charming red coops house chickens, rabbits and squab. Nearby, a green roof shelter, rain garden and pond provide lessons in natural systems and sustainability. Honeybees and tilapia produce fresh ingredients for use in culinary classes and the Sage Student Bistro, where students refine and present their culinary skills. The recent additions are part of a growing demand for a working-with-the-land style of instruction, said Todd Morrissey, horticulture instructor, describing the evolution of horticulture studies at MCC and the budding interest in urban agriculture nationwide. “When people hear horticulture, they typically just think plants,” said Kris Engler, horticulture instructor. “With our expansion, we’re teaching them about the whole system.” Classes utilizing the farmyard area and pond include small animal husbandry, landscape design, entomology, natural systems and sustainability, and introduction to regional planning. Students in the animal husbandry class have the opportunity to work with the animals, facilitating real-life production that will also provide learning opportunities for students in the Institute for the Culinary Arts. “It’s a one-of-a-kind educational experience that sets our students up to thrive in the workplace and in the sustainability market,” Engler said.

9 • community •


News to squawk about The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education recognized MCC in October with a top award for its co-located solar lab, produce garden, greenhouse and farmyard. A detailed look at the winners, including MCC and its project, is available at community • • 10

What do I want to be?

I like a quie t environment

What kind of career will bring me the most stability?

What career would be best suited for the future?

I like learning how things are made art and anything to do with art

What would suit my personality?

i need to be I’m an analytical around people person I’m not a confrontational person

What kind of skills do I have? I’m good at building things

I’ve always been good at learning new technology

Numbers and equations have always been easy for me

What are my favorite school subjects?

I can be a scientist biology

11 • community •

food and cooking

What am I passionate about?




career exploration Vital component: determining personal interests


hen students come to Monique Cribbs’ office, one of the first things she helps them answer is “Who am I?” Cribbs, coordinator of Career Services, helps students navigate their talents and interests and explore possible career fields. The ultimate goal is finding the right fit between a student’s natural skills and abilities and a field in which they will be happy. According to Cribbs, students benefit from starting this self-exploration as early as possible — even in middle school and high school. “The earlier kids explore their options for careers and college, the better,” Cribbs said. “It’s important to choose a career and college that is the right personal fit, and exploring all your options early on can be beneficial in setting you on the right path.”

Exploring ‘Who am I?’ Discover your talents and interests with a few online tools: » » Holland Code: Take a short quiz to learn your three dominant personality traits and link them to careers. Visit and click on Job Seeker Resources. » » My Next Move: Browse snapshots of skills and education required for hundreds of jobs. » » Career Coach: Browse careers, potential salary and education required.

Cribbs encourages parents and high school counselors to expose youth to a variety of colleges and career fields to find the right niche. Parents and youth may be surprised to learn that two-year degrees can lead to jobs that outearn those that require a bachelor’s degree. For youth who aren’t sure what they want to do, a community college is a great place to start. The more students know about the field and potential jobs, Cribbs said, the better they will be at selecting the right college and moving quickly toward a degree. For more career development tools, visit

community • • 12

Strike W a pose MCC students bring diverse styles to campus

See the full album on Facebook.

13 • community •

ith a student body of 40,000 strong — 26 percent of whom are minorities — and three campuses with locales ranging from the inner city to the suburbs, MCC is home to a diverse population: a medley of birthdays, backgrounds, hometowns and styles. During a September photo shoot, students modeled their back-to-school fashion, showcasing the unique flavor of Fort Omaha, South Omaha and Elkhorn Valley campuses and the students who study there. Part of a social media project, this sartorial scavenger hunt was a sensation on MCC’s official Facebook page, resulting in more than 3,770 photo views and reaching nearly 2,000 people. The album also helped to generate awareness about MCC’s social media presence, creating an influx of fans on the Facebook page. The page is an information hub for current students, a resource for prospective students and an outlet to engage with the community and provide customer service.

community • • 14

teacher internships make a splash Business immersion helps teachers bring real-world tools to the classroom


his past summer, 22 teachers immersed themselves in businesses ranging from taxidermy to aquatics thanks to an MCC program that connects educators with realworld business experience.

McKamy.) Since McKamy’s business is new, Woodke’s internship involved a little bit of everything: setting up appointments, billing, and responding to and tracking interest generated from a LivingSocial deal.

MCC’s Teacher Summer Internship program places teachers in paid 40-hour internships at a business within their field, exposing them to current industry practices. As part of the program, teachers keep a diary of their experiences and develop lesson plans that focus on how to bring those experiences back to class. The ultimate goal is to incorporate more workforcerelevant material into the classroom.

Woodke appreciated the chance to experience the nuts and bolts of running a new business.

“Both teachers and businesses enjoy having the instructors in the workplace,” said Connie Eichhorn, MCC’s director of secondary partnerships. “The business people get to explain the types of jobs available in their field and the skills they want entry-level employees to have, and teachers can connect classroom instruction to the actual business world.” Millard South High School teacher Seth Woodke experienced small business entrepreneurship at Little Waves Family Swim School, 175th and Center streets. (Fun fact: Little Waves is owned by former MCC entrepreneurship student Mike

15 • community •

“It’s a good opportunity to see the other side of things,” he said. “(In class) we are always talking theories and the way things are supposed to work, but once you get out of the classroom, you see that things don’t always run on a schedule — you’re running on your clients’ schedules.” As a former financial adviser, Woodke enjoys finding ways to bring his outside-the-classroom perspectives into class. The internship offered him another avenue to create linkages for collaboration between business and schools. “When we’re talking in class, I can bring in something that actually happened to me — and say how [a technique] should work and why it sometimes doesn’t,” he said. “I think it’s definitely a good thing to see different types of businesses and how they work.”

Spirit of service MCC, UNO students unite during monthly volunteer events


t doesn’t take much to move college students to action. Offer them a free T-shirt, and they’re usually on board. Throw in a free lunch, and it’s a done deal. In a new philanthropic partnership with the University of Nebraska at Omaha, students get both of these things, but they walk away with even more. MCC recently joined forces with UNO for the Days of Service initiative, offering students and community members the chance to give back during monthly service activities. The partnership is a natural fit, said Kathleen Oleson Lyons, director of UNO’s Office of Civic and Social Responsibility. “Core to our mission is community stewardship and collaboration.”

Upcoming events Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan. 20

Spring Volunteer Fair

Feb. 25

Dance Nebraska TBD Seven Days of Service

March 22, 24–29

Global Youth Service Day

April 11–13

Get involved! Visit to volunteer.

Learn more about the partnership on YouTube.

Sixteen events are planned through April 2014, focusing on a variety of social issues. Participants gather at UNO and ride buses to local nonprofits, working on projects that make an immediate difference. “Our nonprofits know we’re looking for projects of substance,” Lyons said. “The volunteers know that they’re making a significant contribution to that nonprofit or to the community.” During 9/11 Remembrance Day, students volunteered at veteran support organizations, Habitat for Humanity and food banks. In addition to helping others, students also reap rewards — making friends, building their résumé and even discovering new career pathways. “It builds the holistic student,” said Maria Vazquez, MCC’s associate vice president for student affairs. Using talents to help others can boost self-esteem and also enhance tolerance and acceptance of others, she said. “Positive things happen when students are engaged in the community.”

community • • 16

Breaking Bread

Fund helps baker launch artisan bread business


avid Bryan has a passion for bread; specifically, the perfectly crusty-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside bread that can only come from a brick oven. With demand for local, artisanal goods on the rise, the culinary arts student thought he had a profitable idea — he just needed the seed money to get started. Through the Blue Sky Fund, Bryan won $500 to construct a brick oven similar to those the French have used for centuries. In a “Shark Tank”-style competition, Bryan competed against 11 other students who were selected from 36 applicants. He and other finalists presented their ideas in less than three minutes. Bryan was one of seven chosen to receive funds. Bryan used the funds to build a wood-fired oven on his property in Fort Calhoun, Neb., mimicking the ovens he saw in France on a trip with the Institute for the Culinary Arts. “I thought it would be a neat thing to do in the Omaha area and wanted to bring some of that taste of Paris back here,” he said. The oven’s baking chamber creates the perfect atmosphere for the bread to have the right amount of humidity and crust expansion to yield a chewy, crisp loaf. The loaves he fires in the oven are sold through his business, Stick & Stone Brick Oven Bakery, at farmers markets throughout Omaha and on his website. “They’re fresh, hot and just delicious,” Bryan said.

17 • community •

Name: David Bryan Program: Culinary arts Current occupation: Owner, Stick & Stone Brick Oven Bakery

Watch David’s story on YouTube.

community • • 18

Green expertise Speaker series brings experts to campus


n a joint venture with Central Community College, MCC is helping to foster discussions on topics related to sustainability, energy and the environment with a monthly series of sustainability leadership presentations. The presentation series kicked off in September at Central Community College. Each month brings different local and national speakers who share their perspectives on transportation, the environment and personal choices. Events held at Central Community College are streamed live at an MCC location and vice versa when the speaker is live at MCC. The collaboration is another way MCC seeks to share sustainability-minded perspectives with the community and broaden the reach to other parts of Nebraska. Anyone can tune in online and tweet questions with the hashtag #SLPSThursday. For more information, visit

19 • community •

Upcoming presentations Feb. 6

The Good Life: Opportunities and Resources for You and Nebraska Debra Rowe, Ph.D. Streamed live at MCC

June 5

The Art of Sustainability Leadership: Communication, Complexity and Change Mary Ferdig, Ph.D. Presented live at MCC

Apr. 3

MCC Accomplishments & Lessons Learned: Sustainability in the Classroom, Campus and Community MCC faculty and staff Presented live at MCC

a greener roof New structure showcases sustainable stormwater management


CC added a new green structure this summer to its bustling farmyard and gardens area at the Fort Omaha Campus. The new green roof shelter — officially known as the Bioretention Demonstration Garden Green Roof Shelter — manages and reduces stormwater runoff at the 4,700-square-foot bioretention garden. In 2012, MCC installed the bioretention demonstration garden as a teaching garden for MCC’s Horticulture, Land Systems and Management program and as a tool to educate the community on managing stormwater runoff. The garden demonstrates effective, sustainable stormwater management by retaining water temporarily, allowing it to infiltrate into the existing soils and be filtered by native plants. This reduces the demand on Omaha’s sewer treatment plants, which cannot always handle peak rainfall events.

The 12-by-11.5-foot green roof shelter adds to these efforts in two ways. First, rainwater is filtered and used by the plants on the roof. Second, rainwater is captured in barrels for plant watering. In addition to demonstrating stormwater management best practices, the roof provides shelter for observing bioretention garden work during rain events, and the plants on the roof help keep air clean as well as produce oxygen — ecological services most roofs lack. The shelter and educational signage was supported by a $15,000 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The project is designed to be replicable for others to learn, take and modify for their own applications at home or in business. The shelter is used for instruction in MCC’s horticulture program, public tours and community education.

community • • 20

MCC foundation:

Inspiring innovation Mini-grant program supports students, rewards creative teaching

Exploring new ways to bolster the College mission, the MCC Foundation Board of Directors piloted the Inspiring Innovation Mini-Grant program. Since its launch in January 2012, the program has awarded $41,000 in grants, funding projects that improve the learning experience for students.

Horticulture vertical garden project

Nearly 70 percent of MCC’s academic departments, along with supportive outreach programs like the Great Plains Theatre Conference and Military and Veteran Support Services, have applied for and received mini-grants of up to $3,000. “The MCC Foundation Inspiring Innovation Mini-Grant program is just one example of how we can put private funds to work for our students in the classroom,” said Patricia Crisler, associate vice president of development and executive director of the MCC Foundation. “These investments are designed to respond to vital student need, while challenging our staff and faculty to think beyond the status quo.”

Great Plains Theatre Conference

Military and Veteran Support Services

Selected projects have championed new and creative ways to support student success and career readiness. Projects like the Blue Sky Fund and Commonwealth Gallery provide students with the resources needed to kick-start an entrepreneurial endeavor or market their artwork. Other projects give students hands-on workforce experience. The Kappa Beta Delta ServiceLearning Leadership project connects MCC business students with local nonprofit agencies to help meet critical community service needs. Proposed projects aren’t selected solely for their anticipated impact on MCC students. The review committee also looks to reward faculty and staff who are committed to seeing their students succeed in and out of the classroom. “The Foundation Board of Directors is investing in staff and faculty and quality projects that promote student achievement,” said Lisa Cuevas-Jorgensen, board member and chair of the mini-grant committee. “The mini-grant program gives staff and faculty a significant leadership opportunity that allows them to demonstrate their passion and execute their vision for the future of MCC’s academic programs.”

21 • community •

Location spotlight:

Applied TeChnology center Irvington location provides training for high-demand careers


ith more than 43,000 square feet, the Applied Technology Center provides ample space for the special classroom and lab facility needs of highdemand trades programs, including the CDL Truck Driving, Auto Collision Technology, Diesel Technology, Masonry and Utility Line Technician programs. MCC acquired the former OPPD service site in 2007 at a critical time for MCC enrollment. As student numbers soared to record levels, the 11.5-acre site at 10407 State St. facilitated the expansion and enhancement of MCC’s trades programs. The acquisition grew the College’s partnership with OPPD and created training opportunities for incumbent employees while building a pipeline of utility line technicians in the region. In 2012, the center acquired a mobile burn unit to better train students in Fire Science Technology firefighting courses with live fire training. Last spring, the center received a $7,500 grant from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum to plant 41 trees on the property and install educational signage. The new trees are part of MCC’s overall efforts to contribute to the diversification of the urban forest and educate the public on types of trees planted at MCC’s locations. community • • 22

Stay informed. Connect with your ‘Community.’ @mccneb

Community winter 2013  
Community winter 2013  

"Community" is the quarterly magazine of Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska.