West Hills Magazine - Spring 2015 (Issue 4)

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Spring 2015

magazine For These Athletes,

Grades ReallyDo Matter

All American Scholars, Players Perform On and Off the Field

Rodeo Leads to Career Doing Stunt Work In Hollywood Films Technology Impacts the Way Higher Education is Delivered: ‘It’s a Game Changer’

Student Success Is Not Just a Phrase, or a Phase, at WHCCD


Copyright 2015 by West Hills Community College District. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission prohibited. WEST HILLS MAGAZINE, Number 4 Spring 2015 Published Spring and Fall by the Office of Marketing and Public Information, WHCCD. Contact us by mail at the address below, or, by phone or email at: West Hills CCD Marketing Office 9900 Cody St. Coalinga, CA 93210 (559) 934-2132 tomwixon@whccd.edu

Advisory Board Frank Gornick Chancellor, WHCCD Carole Goldsmith President, WHCC Don Warkentin President, WHCL

board of trustees Mark McKean, President, Area 5 Nina Oxborrow, Area 1 Steve Cantu, Area 6 Edna Ivans, Area 3 Jeff Levinson, Area 7 Jack Minnite, Area 2 Len Falter, Area 4

EDITOR Tom Wixon Director of Marketing


WEBMASTER Carlos Posadas

PHOTOGRAPHY Dennis Gallegos, Kelly Peterson Tom Wixon

GRAPHIC DESIGN Merili Loucks, Kristi Carlson


At one of our Board of Trustee study sessions last year, leadership and staff reviewed our processes aimed at supporting students in the pursuit of their goals. We demonstrated the impressive work that was being done and as a result the board adopted a new vision statement for our district. “The relentless pursuit of student success” has become the new normal as these practices are adopted statewide. Each college’s success, or lack of it, will impact the income received from state funding. West Hills Magazine examines the results of our efforts in the “relentless” approach to student success in this issue. Technology plays a significant role in the history of our district. With the passage of Measure T, we now focus on the merging of technology and learning. Faculty members are pioneers in this area and we support their efforts with the best equipment available. Over the past decade, more focus is on enhanced student engagement with the help of technology. The innovations we will debut in 2015 will bring a new level of support for “the relentless pursuit of student success.” Some of our athletes reached historic heights this year and we think it’s because we don’t just teach sports, we teach players to be college students first and athletes second. Our sports programs demand that students succeed in the classroom and in the community and not only on the field. The talent in our organization is strongly supported and we grow our own leaders. The Employee Scholar Program, featured in this issue, is unique among college districts. We invest in our employees and the Return on Investment for our district is significant. This program has helped talented employees push their personal boundaries while contributing to the success of our district and the communities we serve. In closing, one cannot talk about talent without the mention of the retirement of President Don Warkentin. A friend, professional colleague and great leader will be leaving at the end of this year. His signature and impact on the quality and level of success of our colleges and district is testimony to his leadership skills. He will be missed. You’ll read more about this man’s life in our next issue. Regards,

Frank Gornick, Chancellor West Hills Community College District

table of


Fair Teaches 4 Health Nursing Students to Engage The goal is to help nursing students learn to engage people and be able to comfortably converse on such health related topics as exercise, cardiac risk factors, getting enough sleep, stress relief, anxiety disorders, and other patient concerns.


Foster Youth Program Provides a Caring Network Only 20 percent of foster youth who graduate from high school go to college. And fewer than 10 percent of those earn a degree. West Hills College has a program that works to change those statistics.


Monitoring Energy Use Leads to Big Savings Walking the campus at all hours, reading controls, checking equipment, looking for ways to conserve energy, while still keeping employees comfortable as they’re working. It’s a big task.

Employees Is 20 Educating a Win-Win for West Hills College A librarian, an HR director, a college president, and an administrator in a student support program are among 129 persons who owe their career paths to West Hills College. They achieved advanced degrees through a scholarship program available to district employees.


It’s About ‘the Relentless Pursuit of Student Success’ Here’s how early adoption of educational plans for students, priority registration, and the use of technology have made a difference at West Hills’ campuses at Coalinga, Lemoore and North District Center, Firebaugh.

Cover Photo by Dennis Gallegos: The Joaquin Rocks, also known as Three Rocks, are outcroppings overlooking the San Joaquin Valley, named for outlaw Joaquin Murrieta, who rustled cattle and horses and hid out here in the 1850s. The site is 13 miles north-northeast of Coalinga.


Falcon’s Big Season Was Close to Perfection “If you want to be a success on the field, you must be successful in the classroom and in the community,” says new football coach Robert Tucker. He held his team to those standards and together they produced a season for the record books.


Technology-Driven Innovation Helps Students Reach Goals

One instructor said he “never dreamed that one day college-level instruction could be available to anyone with access to a computer and the internet.” But that’s already happened. More is on the way.


A Long Ride on Horseback from Coalinga to Hollywood A team roper at West Hills College Coalinga and then at Cal Poly SLO went from team roping to learning the ropes as a movie stunt man in Hollywood. He’s been in some big films, including Avatar, 3:10 to Yuma, Seabiscuit and Fast and Furious.


Athletic Programs Demonstrate Real Focus on Student Success

Three players traveled to Philadelphia to receive national recognition for academic and soccer skills. Two of Coach Allen Fortune’s players were among the top athletic scholars in the country. A major tv network news team from Brazil traveled all the way to Lemoore to film their story.

Spring 2015



Health Fair One of the many ways in which students in the West Hills College Lemoore nursing program are helped to succeed is by teaching them how to talk to patients and others. “The goal is to help nursing students learn to engage people,” said Cindy Dolata, R.N. and assistant director of Health Careers at West Hills College Lemoore. “In particular, we want them to be able to comfortably converse on such healthrelated topics as exercise, cardiac risk factors, getting enough sleep, stress relief, anxiety disorders, the whole gamut.” One way students learn to do that is by putting on a Health Fair on campus, an event that has occurred in the fall of every year since the nursing program was launched in 2008.



West Hills magazine

‘Learning to interact with patients is a big part of the job.’ Cindy Dolata, R.N. “It was a project for first semester students so they could develop teaching and talking points when speaking to people, whether a fellow student, staff or faculty member. They provide information about healthy behaviors and share this with the audience that participates.” And it’s quite an audience. Held at the Conference Center, the place was packed for its most recent event. Students created posters to impart information to a room that is mostly full of students, along with some faculty and staff. Visitors were able to get a blood pressure check or a flu shot. Other students gained exposure to health care as a career and those in the program were there to answer questions about the coursework and the rigorous two year training program. The most recent Health Fair, held in November, also was supported by third semester nursing students and their counterparts in the new paramedics program that began last year at WHCL. Two college staff members, Amber Avitia and Callie Branan, get credit for helping organize the event. “We tried to offer specific topics and presentations to spark conversation and lifestyle changes,” Avitia said. Branan liked that it was a college-wide effort. “So many vendors participated, the ambulance and the blood mobile were parked right outside, the culinary students did a great job with refreshments and we got support from student clubs as well.” The setting provides a unique opportunity to talk to students about their health, Dolata points out. “I’ve been a nurse for 35 years and I tell our students – even if you just touch one person, that’s what it’s about, that’s what we’re out there for, to make a difference.” Working the event helps the nursing student prepare for a career in healthcare, too. “Interaction with patients is a big part of the job,” she said. Health Fair expenses are met from proceeds from the Health Careers program’s annual Wine and Wellness event, which takes place in March. This gala event primarily raises money to support the Nursing Program Pinning

Ceremony that takes place twice a year and marks a rite of passage for graduating student nurses. For more information on Health Careers training at West Hills College, see our website: westhillscollege.com At the WHCL Health Fair (Top of adjoining page, above, from left to right): Julie Vandergrifft, Christina Martinez, Claudia Katherman, Kallie Jones, Kyle Douglas Hicks, and Sabrina Holland. (Starting at left): A health fair attendee has her blood pressure taken; nursing student Christina Martinez examines a patient; and paramedic program students Eugenio Zepeda and Sabrina Isard-Scheer inspect their gear.

Spring 2015



Falcons Learn to Love One Another,

Athletic Director Mark Gritton congratulates Head Coach Robert Tucker on Bowl victory.


he West Hills Falcons football team was coming off a two win season and were welcoming Robert Tucker as the team’s third head coach in as many seasons in August.

However, expectations were high as Tucker knew he had some talent on the roster. Little did he know that his mantra, “Go 1-0 each week,” would work for nine straight weeks and result in the Falcons’ winningest season in school history and an NCFC American Bowl championship. “It has been a great year,” said the coach, whose impressive resume includes 17 years of coaching at the university level at such schools as the University of Sioux Falls, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Boise State University, and the University of Oregon. It was a great year, and not just on the field. “We had 12 players named All Conference, 6 to All State,” Tucker said. “But I’m happy to say 26 guys had a GPA of 3.5, and one had a 4.0. One of our players earned a scholarship to Purdue. The academic part is so important. If you want to be a success on the field, you must be successful in the classroom and in the community.” Weeks after the season ended, Tucker gave a report to the West Hills College Board of Trustees. “We’re off to a great start with this program,” he said. “But I am not satisfied. I always look to improve. I’m very encouraged that 10 of our guys are coming back next year.” That means some recruiting needs to be done to fill positions. “We want great guys, who are committed to family, who value education and will do the academics part,” the coach said, outlining his formula for success both on and off the field. “I also want guys who hate losing.” How’d he mold a winning team in such a short time? “I tell the players, ‘Your job is to love one another. And, as coaches, our job is to love them.’” The formula seemed to work. The Falcons spent most of the year ranked No. 1 in the American Division among Northern California community colleges. They started the season with five straight wins in non-conference play, outscoring their opponents 226-55 (averaging 45 points per game and giving up an average of 11). Then West Hills ripped off four straight wins in the Golden Gate Conference before losing to Hartnell in the season finale, an epic battle that wasn’t decided until the last few seconds. However, the dream season would continue for the Falcons. They would play Yuba City in their first bowl game since 2003 while their home field, the Memorial Bowl, would host its first bowl game since 1982, The Falcons took an early lead and held on for a 24-14 victory to finish the season 10-1, the most wins in school history.

Here’s how the dream team fared, as the season unfolded: 6


West Hills magazine

West Hills 50, San Jose 0 Tucker’s Falcons jumped out to a 20-0 first half lead and scored 30 second half points for the runaway 50-0 victory in Memorial Bowl over San Jose City College. West Hills gained 347 yards of total offense, including 184 on the ground. San Jose was limited to just 2.4 yards per play. Quarterback Freddy Taliulu was 14-of-20 for 134 yards and three touchdowns. Purdue signee Anthony Mahoungou caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Tyron Jones scored four rushing touchdowns.

West Hills 50, Contra Costa 21 For the second straight week, the Falcons scored 50 points with a 50-21 victory over Contra Costa to improve to 2-0 on the season. West Hills scored 30 second quarter points to open a 36-7 halftime lead and cruise to the finish. After

Study Hard, and Play Great Football By Tyler A. Takeda

Contra Costa scored the first touchdown of the game, the Falcons scored 43 unanswered points. Defensive lineman Tashad Charity recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Ten different Falcons had rushing attempts for 262 total yards. Jones scored two touchdowns and Darnell Cooper added another. Taliulu threw for three touchdowns, one each to Jones, Sidney Fulford and Mahoungou.

West Hills 34, Los Medanos 14 The Falcons got four touchdowns from the offense, one from the defense and another from the special teams to improve to 3-0 after a 34-14 victory in Memorial Bowl. “Sometimes in games like that, you need a couple of plays to spark a team and we got those,” Tucker said. Charity picked a fumble and ran it 25-yards into the end zone for his second touchdown in two weeks. Robert Brown returned a kick off 99 yards for the

Falcons’ final touchdown. Jones rushed for 161 yards while the defense recorded seven sacks, led by Maurice Daniels’ 3.5 sacks.

West Hills 40, Monterey Peninsula College 10 The Falcons scored the first 21 points and didn’t look back in a commanding victory in Memorial Bowl. The offense gained 613 yards (333 in the air and 280 on the ground) while averaging 7.4 yards per play for a 40-10 victory and improved to 4-0. “The offense was really focused from Monday to Saturday night,” Tucker said after the game. “You have to achieve what you emphasized and they emphasized being efficient and holding onto the ball.” Taliulu threw for 331 yards and two touchdown passes. Mahoungou caught six passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. Jones rushed for 173 yards on 18 carries. Taliulu, Donnevan Ito, Sidney Fulford, Darnell Cooper and D’Anthony Cross also scored touchdowns.

West Hills 52, Gavilan 10 Heading into its bye week, the Falcons cruised to a 5210 victory over Gavilan College to improve to 5-0 on the season. “The offense did an excellent job of executing and moving the ball down the field,” Tucker said. “It feels good to be 5-0. It feels like our hard work has paid off for the guys.” Taliulu was 15-of-26 for 247 yards and two touchdowns passes. The key moment in the game came after Taliulu hit Ito with a 14-yard touchdown pass for a 21-3 lead. Less than a minute later, Roger Craig fell on a fumble in the end zone on a quarterback sack for a touchdown. West Hills gained 579 yards and earned 30 first downs while averaging 7.4 yards per play. Daniels continued his state-leading sack total with three more sacks.

Spring 2015



West Hills 48, Reedley 43 After a week off, the Falcons had to come from behind to defeat the Reedley Tigers to open the Golden Gate Conference season. Taliulu scored on a quarterback sneak with 10 seconds left in the game to turn a 43-42 deficit into a 48-43 victory. The key play in the drive was a 61-yard pass completion from Taliulu to Mahoungou. He caught eight passes for 129 yards. “The team did a good job keeping their poise under pressure,” Tucker said. “It was a good test for our guys. It was great to see them make a lot of plays down the stretch, especially on offense. Freddy did a good job on offense and did a great job getting the ball to Anthony.” The rushing offense sputtered with just 12 yards, but Taliulu was 28-of-45 for 513 yards and five touchdowns. Four West Hills receivers caught passes for more than 100 yards in the game. Wells caught six passes for 120 yards, Ryan Fila caught four passes for 112 and Cross caught five passes for 103yards in the game. Ito also turned a screen pass into a 31-yard touchdown catch-and-run.

West Hills 42, Mendocino 21 The Falcons bounced back by doubling up on Mendocino to improve to 2-0 in the Golden Gate Conference and win their seventh game in a row. “It feels good to be 7-0,” Tucker said. “It feels good to come back with a win after a game that presented a lot of challenges for our team.” West Hills took a 28-0 halftime lead and cruised to the victory. After gaining just 12 yards the week before on the ground, the Falcons rushed for 419 yards on 58 carries and didn’t turn the ball over in the rain. Taliulu threw for two touchdowns. Jones rushed for 164 yards on just 12 carries. Cross added 150 yards on 21 carries and Cooper rushed for 59 more yards. Cross scored two rushing touchdowns.

West Hills 57, Cabrillo 14 The Falcons jumped all over 1-6 Cabrillo College to score 48 first half points in a rout over Cabrillo College in Aptos after scoring touchdowns on six straight drives. The offense gained 465 yards with 283 yards on the ground. The defense scored the game’s first touchdown and the special teams unit blocked a punt and a field goal. Andrew Evans broke through the line and sacked the quarterback. Charity scored his third fumble recovery touchdown of the season by scooping up the fumble and going 91 yards for the touchdown. “It was a tremendous effort by Andrew Evans to get the sack,” Tucker said. “To see Tashad pick up the ball for his third touchdown of the season and watch Maurice Daniels come across the field to beat receivers was really cool to watch on film and see how it ignited the team.” Taliulu was 8-of-9 passing for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Ten different Falcons carried the ball for four touchdowns and 5.7 yards per carry. Brown rushed for 102 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown run.

West Hills 38, Merced 35 The Merced Blue Devils had two chances at ending West Hills’ perfect season. Two times, the Falcons defense stepped up to preserve a 38-35 victory in the home finale. “The guys showed a great desire to close the game,” Tucker said. The Falcons jumped out to a 38-7 lead before Merced started its comeback. Merced was the highest ranked team the Falcons’ had faced so far in the season. Michael Taliulu forced and Greg Haywood recovered a fumble to halt one possession. After a Freddy Taliulu



West Hills magazine

Scenes from a College Bowl Game: Counter clockwise, from above: D’Andre Fuller (15) hauls down a pass; President Carole Goldsmith clutches trophy and congratulates team; Quarterback Fred Taliulu; Receiver Anthony Mahoungou; postgame huddle, Kierra Wilson, Darrell Cooper, Erin Corea, and Tucker Hague; all smiles, (top row) Mahoungou; Marquis Wells, Dametric Sanders, Ryan Fila, (bottom row) supporter and big fan Ron Chastain, Andrew Evans, Darnell Cooper. On previous page: Band of brothers: Zach Mauga, Maurice Daniels, Taliulu, Fila.

interception, Merced’s potential game-ending drive ended after four plays when Dametric Sanders picked off the Merced quarterback. Tyron Smith and Evans contributed with quarterback sacks. “At the end of the day, the defense created turnovers on the last two drives,” Tucker said. “It was a combination of turnovers and field position in the fourth quarter.” The defense started the scoring with another sack and fumble. Daniels sacked the Merced quarterback and forced a fumble, which Merced recovered in the end zone for a safety. The rushing attack was held to just 50 yards, but Taliulu threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns. Even punter John Canes got in the act with a key 20-yard run on a fake punt to set up Taliulu’s touchdown pass to Mahoungou on West Hills’ final touchdown of the game.

West Hills was hit with 19 penalties and 154 yards and also turned the ball over four times. The defense also produced 12 quarterback sacks, led by Daniels’ three. Willard Cotton had 2.5 sacks and Evans and Caleb Wilson had two each.

Hartnell 24, West Hills 16 The stage was set for an epic battle between two teams ranked one-two in the division. The Falcons put their 9-0 record up against the 8-1 home team. Despite building a 16-3 first half lead, Hartnell scored 21 unanswered points to end the Falcons’ perfect season. Tyron Jones scored from a yard out and Taliulu hit Fuller with an eight-yard touchdown pass and Canes hit a 32-yard field goal for the 13-point halftime lead. “We came out and did a lot of good things,” Tucker

Key statistics Points scored- 467 (6th in state) Points per game- 38.9 (11th) Total offense- 5,433 yards (2nd) Yards per game- 452.8 (7th)

Passing touchdowns- 30 (6th) Rushing yards- 2,466 (6th) Fumble recoveries- 16 (3rd) Sacks- 80 (1st)

Team leaders Passing — Freddy Taliulu 169 of 292 for 2,722 (8th) and 29 touchdowns (2nd) Rushing — Tyron Jones 148 carries for 925 yards (12th state), 7 TDs; D’Anthony Cross 59-296, 5 TDs; Robert Brown 44-280, 2 TDs. Receiving — Anthony Mahoungou 41 receptions for 801 yards, 9 TDs (11th state); Tyron Jones 34-205, 3 TDs; Marquis Wells 30-542, 3 TDs; D’Andre Fuller 22-416, 6 TDs; Ryan Fila 19-337, 5 TDs. Tackles — Michael Taliulu 69; Andrew Evans 60; Maurice Daniels 60; Tashad Charity 51; Jeremy Hudson 51. Sacks — Maurice Daniels 19.5 (1st state); Andrew Evans 17.5 (2nd state); Tashad Charity 14.5 (5th state); Tyrone Smith 9.5 (15th state).

said. He wasn’t asked to comment, nor did he volunteer, on the controversial officiating that took a Falcon touchdown off the board and clearly changed the course of the game. Following that, Hartnell scored two third quarter touchdowns and added another touchdown off a blocked punt for the go-ahead points for the win. It was later revealed that the Falcon quarterback was injured at the start of the second half. He would later go on to miss a start in the bowl game that ended the season.

West Hills 24, Yuba City 14 Behind a state-leading 80 sacks, including five against Yuba City, the Falcons finished the season 10-1 after a 24-14 victory in the NCFC American Bowl in Coalinga’s Memorial Bowl.

The Falcons had three of the top four pass rushers in the state, led by state leader Daniels with 19.5 sacks. Evans was second with 17.5 and Charity was fifth with 14.5. The trip combined for 4.5 of the team’s five sacks against Yuba City. With starting quarterback Taliulu unable to play because of his shoulder injury, game Most Valuable Player Marquis Wells stepped in and scored the game’s first touchdown on a five-yard touchdown run. Canes hit a 37-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead. However, Yuba City blocked a Canes field goal before the end of the half and returned it 80-yards for a touchdown. Coalinga High’s Casey Cole returned the special teams favor on Yuba City. After the punt snap went over the punter’s head, Ryan Fila hit the punter as he was picking up the ball to force the fumble. Cole, who recorded nine tackles and was the Defensive Player of

the Game, scooped up the fumble and ran it in for a touchdown. After Yuba City scored on a 31-yard pass play on fourth down, West Hills closed out the game with a seven-play, 72-yard drive that was capped by a Wells 26-yard pass to Fila for the 10-point victory. “That was a huge win for our program, not only for this year, but for the history of the program,” Tucker said. “Our guys reached the goals they set. They wanted to have that best record in the history of West Hills College football.”

Takeda is sports editor for the Madera Tribune and editor of the Coalinga Recorder.

Spring 2015



Technology Plays Big Role

in Delivering Education to College Students By Lanny Larson Ever-evolving technology is vital to improve access to college courses, promote distance learning, engage students, help instructors be better educators and prepare students for advancement. Taking advantage of technological advances though is a significant challenge to academia. West Hills Community College District is meeting that challenge through collaboration, financial resources and innovation. As part of its committed focus on student success, West Hills has embraced a broad spectrum of advances: dependable campus wireless access, computer-enhanced classrooms, faculty training, uncovering and securing resources to sustain and freshen hardware, and tablet technology. Through its online curriculum, West Hills connects with students as far away as Japan and as close as the district’s rural communities, expanding access to college-level education. West Hills alumnus Al Graves, who teaches geography at the WHC Coalinga and the North District Center, Firebaugh, has witnessed the impact of technology both today and in the past. After teaching at Northern Arizona University briefly in the 1970s, then working in



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Technology on the Move West Hills Community College District is leveraging technology to customize the teaching and learning process to serve all students. Some recent milestones:

Whether in the clinical lab or at the Farm of the Future where ag courses are taught, technology impacts every facet of higher education at West Hills College. Above: Nursing students at West Hills College Lemoore learn with the aid of a simulator designed for the unique training needs of emergency care in both pre-hospital and in-hospital environments, offering a mobile and dynamic learning experience. See “Technology on the Move” (at right) for a list of initiatives at WHCCD that are designed to enhance and update the technology so necessary for learning and preparing students for an increasingly technological workforce in the 21st Century.

farm management, fund development and investment advising, he returned to the classroom in 2002. Graves remembers the hands-on library and field research necessary to provide classroom content. “Today, the world–literally–is available instantaneously with the power of the internet,” he says. Harnessing technology to benefit West Hills is the task of several administrators, aided by Richard Wu. He was hired in 2014 as associate vice chancellor to head the Office of Connected Learning after teaching and developing courses at Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y., a private, nonprofit, fully online college. One of his first projects after coming to West Hills College was an initiative putting iPads in the hands of instructors and expanding classroom connectivity. Dr. Wu’s office invited experts to campus to train faculty and promote best practice exchanges. “I believe with more and more faculty using iPads in the classroom, student feedback will be positive,” Wu says. Graves is optimistic, too, saying, “Students will be able to interact with each other and the instructor and off-site entities, almost instantaneously. This could be the most innovative thing brought to the campus since I have been there.” Supporting online access is integral in West Hills’ tech mission and one reason the district won a $3.2 million federal Title V grant, which Wu says, “has had a positive impact on student access through faculty training to develop quality online courses.” Grant funds were invested to upgrade to full high-speed internet access throughout the Coalinga campus, and in the Online Learning Resource Lab to train faculty, support techintegration efforts and facilitate collaboration on technology issues.

••••• The district earned a $3.2 million federal Title V grant to increase the quantity and quality of online courses, content, and services for students in rural communities. Wireless network access was updated and expanded to provide robust internet and resource access throughout all district campuses ••••• West Hills College Registration 365 (Reg365) is a redesign of our education enrollment methods allowing students to schedule a full year’s worth of courses at one time. This change emphasizes to students the importance of completionoriented educational planning, rather than a term-to-term view of class registration and enrollment ••••• The creation of an interactive mobile application will expand access for student support, resources, and college information ••••• All full-time faculty received iPads to explore opportunities to transform the way teachers teach and students learn, pave new ways of thinking, spark new ideas, and reinvent what it means to teach and learn ••••• The transition to Microsoft Office365 offers faculty, staff, and students access to unlimited cloud storage and a full suite of collaboration tools designed expressly to enhance faculty and student collaboration within courses ••••• The districtwide passage of an innovative $20 million bond (Measure T) in November 2014 will support an infusion of technology upgrades or new technologies and supplement previously issued bonds for facilities and upgrading of infrastructure across the district

Spring 2015



’It’s a Game-Changer; You Have Online Support You Never Had Before’

Graves says internet access allows his geography students to monitor earthquakes and other natural hazards in realtime and from authoritative sources, rather than “getting a story on the event long after it happened and only in the form presented in the media.” “We have almost instant access to vast collections of images of any place on Earth–including from outer space,” Graves adds, and PowerPoint allows for quick, clear display without sacrificing classroom time for equipment set-up. Providing online courses is another key educational access point. West Hills College offered 227 sections of credit courses for spring 2015. The program helps residents of many small, economically deprived communities in the region to pursue college degrees. Dr. Wu remembers that before online classes were available, the Postal Service, cable-TV and synchronous video conferencing delivered college-credit courses. Graves says he never “dreamed that one day college-level instruction could be available to anyone, anywhere with access to a computer and the internet. Never once–back in the day–did I have a student enrolled in my class who physically lived more than 5,000 miles from campus, in Japan! I have experienced that at West Hills.” Looking forward, Dr. Wu says West Hills College will join the California Community College Online Education Initiative. “It will help enhance our online program quality and West Hills also is developing model courses that other colleges can use.” Besides funding from the Title V grant, West Hills’ tech mission will be sustained by $5 million available every five years for the next two decades, thanks to voter approval in November 2014 of the Measure T bond issue. Mastering new technology in education is essential, Graves believes: “Truly, if it causes a student to think more broadly, to think in more depth and/or to think independently, it has value.” Larson is a retired journalist and now a freelance writer and editor whose stories have appeared in this magazine, the Fresno State magazine, and other publications.



West Hills magazine

Arkady Hanjiev is a math instructor at West Hills College Coalinga and he’s witnessed a sea change in the way education is delivered in the modern era, as opposed to when he first started teaching two decades ago. “When I first started, it was one teacher, one lecture,” he said. “It’s changed to the point where in the current textbook, every lesson has a link to a video students can view. The textbook also has a digital online version, and students can choose to use the textbook or the digital one. About half my students seem to prefer a textbook, but they all have access to the e-book. Some homework assignments are required to be done online. “It changes the way students learn. I give the lecture, they take notes. Before, that’s all there was. Now, they go online afterwards and they see it all over again.” In Hanjiev’s experience, that second look appears to enhance learning and retention. “It used to be that if you missed a lecture or two, there was really no way to catch up except to borrow someone else’s notes or get someone in the class to help you.” Today, however, they have more tools, the instructor says. “For example, YouTube has played a big role in the way students learn today. It provides a second look, another explanation. That’s a game-changer. You have online support now that you never had before, unless you hired a tutor.” If the last two decades have been full of change, what does he foresee in the next 20 years? “I can’t predict, but I know that we will adopt new technology when it comes,” Hanjiev said. “There are a couple of general areas where I think we’ll see innovation. “Customized education is one. That’s where students solve problems on a computer and then the program generates or provides a second problem, with a slightly higher degree of difficulty.” Hanjiev said the computer program challenges the student. “It pushes you so that you peak at your own performance level.” Another is the trend towards open access online textbooks, which are beginning to come online. ”I see that as meaning we’ll have fewer textbooks for students to buy, or even free textbooks that can be downloaded from the web. We’ve already seen textbook publishers put more of their content online. And we’ve gone from a $230 textbook to a $30 textbook that contains links to large amounts of online information.” Whether that’s a response from textbook publishers worried about free or low-cost open source textbooks being generated by colleges, or simply a reaction to the trends apparent in the marketplace, those publishers are moving towards putting more information online. “While it has many positive developments, there are a few things we need to be mindful of as we adopt new technology,” said Hanjiev, who has taught for 16 years. The chief concerns he has: “The learning process might not be reflective enough. Technology can also be a distraction for students. And critical thinking might suffer when the focus is on presentation and not on content. We could end up teaching students to look up answers rather than solve problems.” With financial resources committed by the college for more and newer technology over the next two decades, Hanjiev sees an opportunity to address those concerns. “I would love to see us have a bottom-up approach. For instance, I would love to see a technology person come in and audit the way I present information and tell me how new technology could improve the process.”

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Foster Youth Program has

‘a Heart for Students’ By Amy Kessler

When 20-year-old Jose Ojeda first enrolled at West Hills College Coalinga, he walked out of his math class to find student services senior secretary Aronne Hauki waiting for him. She knew he was a foster youth student, and she wanted to let him know about a program that would help him stay in college and succeed. The foster youth program currently serves 16 foster youth students. Any student who was at one time in the foster care system is deemed eligible, whether or not they were reunited with their parents. It helps provide students with books, financial aid, school supplies and even assistance finding jobs or transportation to appointments. The new vision statement for West Hills Community College District is at the heart of the foster youth program at WHCC – “The relentless pursuit of student success.” The majority of students



West Hills magazine

didn’t find out about the program on their own – they were pursued by staff, primarily by Hauki. “Our heart for the students definitely makes us meet them where they are, so we are finding their needs and doing whatever we can to meet them,” said Hauki, who keeps in frequent contact with her students by phone, email and Google Chat. WHCC received its first grant for the program in fall 2013 with the Career Ladders Project. The college reapplied in 2014 and continues to receive funding through the Walter S. Johnson Foundation. Sandy McGlothlin, vice president of student services, heads the program. She has a master’s degree in social work and has been a court appointed special advocate (CASA) through Fresno and Madera counties since 2010. “The grants office and I were instrumental in the second year grant proposal by adding the foster youth programs’ unique perspective on

Jose Ojeda

Kayla Kincaid

our strategies for student support other than just giving them financial provisions,” said McGlothlin. “We have monthly meetings where we have specific topics relative to their academic success, field trips to colleges and universities of their choice and some fun activities thrown in.” The Annie E. Casey Foundation reported in January 2014 that only 20 percent of foster youth who graduate from high school go on to attend college. Of that 20 percent, only 2 to 9 percent earn a bachelor’s degree. This is compared to 66 percent of non-foster youth who enroll in college after high school graduation, according to a 2013 statistic from the U.S. Department of Labor. “When I think of the obstacles that come against them for their success, it makes sense that they’re all quitting and they’re all not pushing toward making something of their lives,” said Hauki. Community college is a step in the right direction toward changing this statistic.

‘… life has been tough (but) there is a place for them and they are important and worthy of success. I want to model that we can rise above adversity…’ Amy Long, counselor and former foster child “With so much attention being focused on the importance of college completion, this group has been left out,” said Carole Goldsmith, president of WHCC. “For me, that’s simply not acceptable. I am a first generation college graduate. I was lucky. I had parents who were supportive. Who is going to serve in that role for this group? “We have cultivated a climate of Success Champions on campus. We create a network of caring adults for them. We are committed to their success. We hold Foster Youth awareness events and provide training to faculty and staff about the needs of foster youth. We remind everyone who works at WHCC to make an

Aronne Hauki

Amy Long

extra concerted effort to serve this population.” While the program offers support and stability for foster youth, it has another appealing aspect that adds security. Both Hauki and Amy Long, a WHCC counselor who works with the program, are former foster youth. Their experiences allow them to connect with students on a more personal level, and the program cultivates a family-like atmosphere. “My goal is to build up leaders and instill those qualities that they may not have received from another source,” said Long. “I want to make a difference and show the students that just because life has been tough, there is a place for them and they are important and worthy of success. I want to model that we can rise above adversity and become role models for future generations.” Those are all benefits 24-year-old Kayla Kincaid says she receives from the program. While she had heard of foster youth programs before, it wasn’t until Hauki approached her that she decided to join. “It was mainly Aronne who reached out to me to do the program,” she said. “I would probably be struggling, that’s for sure, if I didn’t have this program because it’s just me. The financial aid helps of course, but they help in other ways as well. I feel like I have my own little family and that we all kind of relate in different ways.” Ojeda is one such student who not only dreams big but works hard to make it happen. Ojeda will graduate with his A.S. in math and science in May 2015 and transfer to a California State University to pursue civil engineering. The foster youth program helped get him there. With financial aid and help buying books every semester, Ojeda hasn’t had to face the distraction of working to pay for his education. He’s been able to focus solely on excelling in his classes. The program even took a special field trip to Fresno State for an engineering event so he could learn more about his desired career path. “If I were on my own, I wouldn’t have made it this far,” said Ojeda. “I’m more able to focus on school instead of working.” Kincaid echoes his drive to create a better future, crediting the program as motivation to push forward in her studies. “I need to do something in my life, and college is going to get me there,” she said. Amy Kessler, a former journalist, was the marketing assistant at West Hills CCD. She now lives in San Luis Obispo.

Spring 2015



Hollywood Stunt Man Traces Career Back to College Rodeo By Amy Kessler


ow a successful stunt man in Hollywood, Jason Rodriguez can trace the beginning of his career back to his rodeo days at West Hills College Coalinga. Originally from Paso Robles, Rodriguez hails from a talented rodeo family with his father and grandfather both inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. The rodeo skills didn’t skip a generation. During his first year at WHCC, he was on the Reserve National Championship team, and he also won team roping at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. When he transferred from WHCC to Cal Poly in 1987, he intended to make rodeo his career. He started working on his family’s cattle ranch and eventually found a successful career modeling for men’s clothing commercials. He met a producer from Los Angeles in San Luis Obispo, and he was encouraged to move and pursue a film career. Rodriguez moved to LA in 1992 and studied acting for two years before deciding it wasn’t quite the route he wanted to take in the industry.



West Hills magazine

“Because of my background in rodeo and horses, I started working as a stunt man,” he said. “There were a lot of westerns going on at the time, so there was a need for guys that could do horse work. I started working doing stunts, and from doing stunts, I really got interested in filmmaking.” He got his start doing horse stunts for westerns and then moved on to even produce his first feature film in 2001, “Reckoning.” It aired on the Starz Network and was released worldwide on DVD. He was encouraged to broaden his abilities outside of horse stunts in order to find more jobs. With the help of friends, he studied stunts for six years before he started being hired steadily. “There’s learning the ability and then there’s learning how to take that ability and use it on the set to where it works for everybody. So when I say it took six or seven years, I learned the ability quicker than that, but to be experienced enough that people would hire me to use me on an actual set took longer.”

His resume, or his page on IMDB, includes a long list of well-known films and TV shows. He works as a stunt coordinator on some and does the stunts himself on others. Along with other TV shows, he performed stunts on single episodes of “Arrested Development” and “Sons of Anarchy.” Rodriguez was also a stunt double for Jason Bateman in “Identity Thief ” and for Collin Farrell in “A Winter’s Tale.” He also performed stunts in movies such as “3:10 to Yuma,” “Wanted,” “Fast and Furious,” “Avatar,” “Seabiscuit” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” Of those, “3:10 to Yuma” is his favorite, on which film he was also the assistant stunt coordinator. When it comes to stunts, he’s learned how to do everything. Car stunts are his favorite, but he also continues to do horse stunts and even works with fire. The one thing he refuses to do? “I do pretty much everything except motorcycles,” he said. “I stay off motorcycles.”

Jason Rodriguez, opposite page, rode for the West Hills College rodeo team back in the day. Now he does stunts for the movies (above). For this scene from American Outlaws in 2001, a western about Jesse James and his gang, he’s shown riding a horse through a “glass” window. No horses were harmed in the filming.

Current projects include a stint driving cars for an EA commercial and returning to do stunts on his favorite television series, “From Dusk Till Dawn.” While he didn’t continue his traditional education for long after leaving WHCC, the skills he acquired while on the rodeo team set up him for future success. It is with confidence he can say, “Because of rodeo, I was able to transition into my first jobs in Hollywood.” Amy Kessler, a former journalist, was the marketing assistant at West Hills CCD. She now lives in San Luis Obispo.

Spring 2015



Saving Energy: ‘Sometimes It’s the Little Things’ By Tom Wixon

Energy costs are a big part of any household budget, so you can imagine how much it costs each year to run computers, copiers, phone systems, not to mention lights and heating and air conditioning costs throughout the West Hills Community College District. With college facilities scattered throughout Kings and Fresno counties, the cost is well over a million dollars a year. In an effort to trim energy costs and lower the district’s overhead, WHCCD has embarked on an energy savings program that would generate what the experts call “cost avoidance” that could amount to substantial savings over time. The college covers a vast district of nearly 3,500 miles. There are two large campuses, each more than 100 acres, the smaller North District Center, Firebaugh, along with eight regional child development centers, and the Farm of the Future. In all, the district has 346,238 square feet under roof with 786 rooms in 89 buildings. That’s a lot of real estate to heat, cool, light, and electrify. To effect savings, the district is working with Cenergistics, a Dallas firm that specializes in cutting energy costs through monitoring of control systems and the education of institutional staff. In a report to the Board of Trustees, Deputy Chancellor Ken Stoppenbrink said it’s too early to predict the outcome just yet, but that after several months the program appears to be working as expected. “We are saving money,” he said. “There is a learning curve as we continue to monitor systems and educate employees on the many ways we can all collaborate to cut our energy costs.”



West Hills magazine

The thrust of the Cenergistics concept is to hire an energy consultant to monitor usage and suggest or implement improvements to existing systems. The cost is paid out of demonstrated savings, split between the district and the firm for the term of the contract. The energy consultant currently responsible for monitoring West Hills sites is Dustin Johnson, from Visalia, who is a temporary hire while the district finds a permanent replacement. Johnson has done this work before and has it down. That’s Dustin on the job, pictured below. “It’s a very technical program, guided by Cenergistics, a company that does this all over the country,” he said. “We get engineers to figure out ways to optimize the equipment you already have and get the maximum efficiency out of it. The goal is to maintain comfort in offices and classrooms and at the same time conserve energy.” The company has worked with Oklahoma State University where it realized more than $20 million in energy savings through a similar program that began in 2007, according to the company’s website. Its largest community college is in Mississippi (Hinds CC), where costs have been reduced by 27 percent. One of the first things Johnson focused on at West Hills is “to

make sure we are on a heating and air conditioning schedule. I’ll walk the campuses in the middle of the night, sometimes at 1 in the morning, and might find, to use a recent example, an air handler that was still running. It’s nobody’s fault, it happens, but when we audit these things we can eliminate air conditioning a building at night.” In addition, Johnson said a key to saving energy is to check equipment in depth to make sure it is operating correctly. “If a boiler is running at a very high temp, we first determine whether that’s accurate, and why. Then we make a necessary change.” Johnson said monitoring energy usage is especially important during breaks when the schools are closed for a period of time. “Sometimes it’s the little things, like restroom exhaust fans running at night. But it’s always about building relationships, which is a pivotal part of this program. We are not here to make trouble for employees, but to maximize savings, to make sure the rooms are comfortable when people are in them and the energy turned down, or off as necessary, when they aren’t there.” Johnson said so far at West Hills, “we’ve seen that it doesn’t require a capital investment; the savings more than pay for what

you pay for the service. “ Stoppenbrink confirms that. In a recent presentation to the Board of Trustees, he said the costs associated with energy district wide are down about 11 percent, and the program hasn’t hit full stride yet. “We are saving money already,” he said, “and so far the trend looks like we will meet our target over time.”

Wixon is editor of West Hills Magazine and Director of Marketing/ Consultant at WHCCD.

‘…we continue to monitor systems and educate employees to cut energy costs.” Ken Stoppenbrink

Spring 2015



Faculty and Staff Go

BACK to class

In Order

By Amy Kessler


est Hills Community College District ranks high on the list of employers in both Fresno and Kings Counties, but most people don’t realize that the school district’s workers are often students themselves. It’s all because of a program unique to the district that allows employees to go back to school with financial assistance. It helps the district by creating a talent pool and promotes hiring from within. It permits the college to grow its own leaders. Since its inception in 2001, more than 125 employees have participated in the Employee Scholars Program. Right now, 24 employees are active participants. When they earn their degrees, most of them make long-term careers out of their jobs with the college and often move up the ladder. Becky Cazares started out as a senior secretary in the human resources department when she was hired at West Hills Community College District in 2002. She was on a break from school, but she had already completed a few courses for her bachelor’s degree online. After a few years of working at WHCCD and hearing about the program, she decided to participate. She took a few courses at a time, and it took 10 years, but she finished. Cazares earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Franklin University. During this time she also held other positions in the human resources department as well as being an administrative assistant in the business office. Within a few years of earning her degree, her current position as Director of Human Resources opened up, and she was able to apply. “Without it, I couldn’t be the in position I am today,” she said. “I would have done it eventually, but this just made it easier.” Like many others who earn degrees with the help of the program, Cazares chose to continue working for the district. She’s been a full-time employee with the district for more than 10 years and sees no reason to move on. She’s in the job she wants. The Employee Scholars Program is offered to all full-time employees and initially explained during orientation with HR. Once they fill out an application and are approved, they are eligible for tuition reimbursement up to $300 per unit to a maximum of 10 units per year.



West Hills magazine

The program requires that employees continue working at the district for two years following the completion of their final class or pay back a prorated amount of their tuition, but the majority of employees stay longer and move up within the district. Ron Oxford was already doing his ideal job as the librarian at West Hills College Lemoore when he decided to participate in the program. He completed his Ed.D. at Fresno State in 2010. While the financial assistance was a noticeable help, Oxford said another benefit of the program was the support system he had at work. “There was the economic impact, and then without the support of the college it would have been a lot more difficult,” he said. “I really did have the support of the district office if I needed research data. I had support from the administration if there was ever a function I needed to attend at Fresno State. It wasn’t just a monetary support, it was just a full-fledged effort to help me get through the program.” And while his position at WHCL didn’t change, Oxford said it helped give him a better understanding of the organizational structure of higher education. “I feel much better placed in my position than I did before,” he said. Some employees, like Oscar Villarreal, earned one degree and chose to utilize the program again for a second time. He was recently promoted to director of the Upward Bound Math and Science program at WHCL. “I owe it to West Hills College,” he said. “They believed in me by hiring me first and foremost, but most importantly, they invested in my future. I continue to represent West Hills College

‘I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be a college graduate. I am the first of my family to go to college and finish. I am now the role model for my very own family…’ Oscar Villareal

to Learn and Grow with pride and I am invested in their future in return.” Thanks to the Employee Scholars Program, he is the first college graduate in his family and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He earned his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Fresno Pacific University and his master’s in educational leadership from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Like so many others who choose to stay on at WHC after earning higher degrees, Villarreal has no intention of leaving. “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be a college graduate,” he said. “I am the first of my family to go to college and finish. I am now the role model for my very own family and students who also have dreams but need that extra motivation to go farther in life. I am their resource, courtesy of West Hills College, where the motto does exactly what it says it will do, because, ‘Once you go here, you can go anywhere.’ I am living testament of this, and my family and I are grateful for the opportunities.” Jill Stearns is one example of an employee who entered the program and left for a higher position elsewhere. She is now the president of Modesto Junior College. Stearns began the program when she was vice president of educational services at WHCC. She saw the program as an opportunity to begin working on her advanced degree because it helped cover some of the costs of tuition and offered support from the district. She praised the program and the district for encouraging higher education among its employees. “It’s a tangible affirmation of the value that West Hills College sees in advanced education of their employees,” she said.

Becky Cazares

Amy Kessler, a former journalist, was the marketing assistant at West Hills CCD. She now lives in San Luis Obispo.

Oscar Villarreal

Ron Oxford

Spring 2015



Sylas Moura (No. 18), All American, from Natal, Brazil was one of three WHCL soccer players awarded national honors this year from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He was named to a list of the top 22 junior college soccer players in the U.S.

Lemoore Soccer Players Hon S

ince joining the West Hills College Lemoore Men’s Soccer team in the fall of 2013, three students’ days have been filled with the smell of grass, the cheering of crowds, success on the field and off, and top honors both within California and nationally. WHCL students and soccer players Gabriel Viana, Sylas Moura and Kalvin Conley were recently honored by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America for their athleticism and, in two cases, their outstanding academic prowess. In a series of firsts for WHCL, Moura became the first WHCL soccer player to be named to the NSCAA’s 2014 All-America list, Viana became the first WHCL soccer player to be named NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year and both Viana and Conley were named Scholar All-Americans. “We’ve won other awards, within the state of California and



West Hills magazine

locally,” said WHCL men’s soccer coach Allen Fortune. “This is the first time someone from our college has been put on the national stage though. It’s a big accomplishment for the school and the program.” Viana was named a Scholar All-American and the NSCAA’s 2014 Junior College Scholar Player of the Year. The award is based on academic and athletic ability, with Viana being nominated based on a GPA of 3.95. “When I heard that I’d won, my heart just sailed,” Viana said. “I was so proud and shocked and I couldn’t believe it was true. When I told my Dad about it, I was so happy I cried.” A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Viana came to WHCL after being recruited by a company called Next Level Sports for the team. Viana’s award has been met with excitement in his native country as well, with large Brazilian television network Rede Globo sending a reporter to Lemoore to interview him for sports program Esporte Espetacular.

Gabriel Viana (No. 10) from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was named to NSCAA’s National Scholar All-American list, by virtue of his 3.95 grade point average. On top of that, he was selected the Scholar Player of the Year, the top national honor.

nored Nationally for

Athletic and Academic Prowess By Jamie Applegate

Kalvin Conley, the team’s captain, also received the honor of being named a Scholar-All American with a GPA of 3.83 after a full two seasons playing on the team. He joined Viana as one of only 11 players in the United States presented with the award. A Hanford native, Conley was recruited to the team initially by Coach Allen Fortune and has earned several accomplishments within the team itself. In addition to serving as team captain, Conley has also won the team’s Golden Eagle award that honors a player whose fellow players feel exhibits leadership and teamwork. Conley, who has been playing soccer since he was very young and initially came to WHCL to study business and play on the team,

said the award came as a surprise. “I was shocked at first,” he said. “It’s not something that usually happens around here, not just in the school but in our area. Being able to represent our school on a national level is something that’s very important and an honor.” In addition to the two Scholar All-Americans, an All-American was also named from the team. Sylas Moura became the first WHCL soccer player to be named to the All-America list, which is awarded based on athletic ability. Moura was named to the NSCAA’s All Western Region 1st Team and All-American 2nd team, meaning that he is considered one

Spring 2015



Kalvin Conley (No. 24) didn’t have to travel as far as his teammates to play at Lemoore. He is from Hanford. Conley, the team captain, was also named to the Scholar All-American list, joining Viana as two of only 11 players named to the national team.

of the top 11 players in the western region and one of the top 22 players nationally. He has also achieved much locally, holding the record for most goals in a soccer career at WHCL with 33 goals over two years and leading the state in most goals scored in a regular season with 20 goals. He has also previously won the team’s Golden Boot for most goals scored. A native of Natal, Brazil, Moura came to the United States as part of the same program as Viana. Moura said he hopes the achievement encourages future players to do their best. “It just happened to be that I had the opportunity to break records and I had a good season,” he said. “I’d say one thing to all future players: You can break my records as long as you focus and do your best. Good things will come to you.” Fortune said the team was ranked in the top 20 teams nationwide for several weeks during the season and finished the year with an overall record of 13-5-2. Both the Scholar All-America and All-America honors are awarded based on votes from coaches from across the nation who vote based on the potential All American’s individual achievements



West Hills magazine

and the achievements of their teams. All three players travelled to the NSCAA’s national conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Jan. 15 to 17 to receive the awards and are looking at transferring to universities to continue their soccer careers following their graduation from West Hills.

All-Americans Conley, Moura and Viana were introduced to the West Hills CCD Board of Trustees, after returning from Philadelphia where they received national recognition for both athletic and academic achievement.

Applegate is a freelance writer and journalist whose stories have appeared in this magazine and the Coalinga Recorder.

T he of

Relentless Pursuit Student Success

West Hills College has a new vision statement. It’s just six words:

faculty and staff at the spring State of the District address. “That new vision statement addresses who we are, who we have become, and it is beginning to change student behavior. It’s a difference that is being noticed in our community and state. “We have historically offered our courses as the ancient monks did, by semester. This is changing. Last year we introduced Reg365, which allowed students – for the first time at a California community college – to register for classes a year in advance. This new process makes it possible for students to plan ahead, and to lock in the series of classes they will need to take in sequence in order to earn a degree or sufficient credits to transfer to a four-year college or university.”

The Relentless Pursuit of Student Success. Adopted last year by the Board of Trustees, the official district vision is a new set of words, but not a new concept. “We were early adopters of what has now become the new normal,” said Frank Gornick, chancellor of the West Hills Community College District. Back in 2010, in the midst of the nation’s Great Recession and at a time when California’s budget deficits hit hard at the funding for community colleges, there were inevitable discussions about how to pay for education going forward. The sentiment in government circles was to do away with the traditional census-based funding and start paying colleges for what they produced. Assoc. of Science for Transfer Certificate of Achievement 978 This became a reality last Associate of Arts Local Certificate year when Gov. Jerry Brown Grand Total Associate of Science introduced a budget that changes the way two-year colleges are funded in California. A new 807 778 formula was adopted for the 112 schools throughout the state. 485 Appropriations will now be 672 determined based on how well colleges scored with respect to 375 381 success and retention. 356 In the future, the colleges would be paid not simply for getting students to enroll but also 217 for keeping them enrolled and 192 180 170 170 165 making progress toward their 146 137 educational goals. And further, 90 for how successful they were in 63 50 reaching those goals. 33 16 6 3 “The dictionary definition of relentless is constant, incessant, 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 persistent, continuous,” the chancellor said, speaking to The impact of WHCCD’s “relentless pursuit of student success” is reflected in the growth in the number of

Degrees & Certificates

degrees and certificates awarded in the last three years. The significant growth (up 306, or 46%) is a direct result of the district’s early adoption of such initiatives as education plans, priority registration, and other recruitment and retention efforts

Spring 2015



English Placement Did Not Take Placement Exam Transfer level 1 level below transfer

2 levels below transfer Intervention Required

2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2124 High School Graduating Class

The gap between what area high school students are learning and their ability to achieve college level assessment scores has improved dramatically. The chart shows that since 2011, the number of high school students whose test scores qualify them for placement in college level classes have doubled or nearly tripled in some cases, compared to previous year statistics. Overall, the chart also demonstrates that more new high school graduates are placing higher than ever on the assessment test.

Math Placement Did Not Take Placement Exam Transfer level 1 level below transfer

2 levels below transfer Intervention Required

2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2124 High School Graduating Class

The Closing the Gap initiative has improved math placement scores as well, even though the initiative focused first on English. Efforts to improve math placement results were put into play in 2013 and the chart shows marked improvement in the past academic year. High school readiness for college has a large impact on how long it takes community college students to earn degrees and transfer credits, and higher test scores help them reach their educational goals in a shorter timeframe, which leads to greater retention, persistence, and transfer or graduation rates.



West Hills magazine

Reg365 was a big success the first year out, according to Sandy McGlothlin, vice president, student services at WHCC. “When open enrollment began for this year’s spring semester, nearly 70 percent of the students had already registered,” she said. “Now that the program is becoming more familiar, we expect that to grow.” It’s an impressive result for the first year of a program that was brand new and required a new way of looking at enrollment. There were a few glitches, college officials said, but they were quickly ironed out and the process worked. What Gornick referred to as “the new normal” in his address will require monitoring student success and achieving measurable results in order to receive state funding. While it may be a new normal, it is not a new concept at West Hills. Back in 1994, when Gornick was hired as president of what was then a onecollege district, he told faculty and staff at his first formal address: “We measure our success by the success of our students.” As a result, West Hills College was an early adopter of what is now becoming the norm. Before the state got around to mandating student success as a factor in the funding formula, the district introduced educational plans for students. Since 2010, the number of students with educational plans at WHCCD has grown dramatically, and so have their achievements (see related charts). “We have been, and are, moving the needle in this area,” Gornick said. “And we’re monitoring it. We assumed, rightly, that we were going to have to be able to demonstrate our success rates going forward.” The result is that education plans that offer priority registration to students who complete them and meet other criteria have led to more students staying in college and reaching their goals in less time – in two or three years rather than the four to six years that were once the norm. Three year completion rates are way up, according to Kyle Crider, the district’s research analyst. “Studies show that full time students who are encouraged to take 15 or more credits rather than the minimum full time requirement of 12, more of them complete their degree, so the college has encouraged that and focused on it.” Since 2010, education plans and priority registration – which shorten the time it takes a student to complete the number of credits needed for transfer – have all played an important role in student success. Another initiative was the passage of a technology bond by voters in November 2014. The unique bond was not to build facilities but to assure a flow of cash so the college could upgrade software and buy new hardware as the demand for technology grows and changes (See related story on Technology in this issue).

A third initiative, just completed, is Closing the Gap. This successful collaboration between the colleges and the area’s K-12 school systems opened the lines of communication and helped high school students become better prepared for the college placement test. As a result, 50 percent more students are now entering WHCCD after testing at higher levels of college readiness in English and Math. “The percentage of graduating high schools seniors entering West Hills College has grown from 20 percent to almost 30 percent in the past four years,” said Crider. “This is a result of closing the Gap, which began in 2011.” The impact of Reg365 has already been felt, but it’s just the beginning. “There are a lot of other colleges who are curious and want to do this,” Gornick said. Referring to a recent conference of college administrators he attended in Sacramento, he added, “I had many inquiries about how this was working and I said it was a change, and a bit of a disruptive approach, but one that has allowed us to talk to more students about planning their educational future. We have been and will continue taking multiple steps to change our view about what students have to do to get to us. Reg365 is a cultural shift for us.” This level of personal attention is integral to the student success paradigm, the college staff was told at a recent leadership conference. “All it takes is for one person to help them navigate through college,” said Vera Kennedy, a faculty member at WHCL. McGlothlin, who had recently attended an outreach event at Avenal High School, said, “We noticed that the teachers there were really engaged with their students. That makes all the difference.” West Hills is looking to build on its reputation for student success. “The state is now focused on it,” said the chancellor. “We’re moving in the right directions with our initiatives. We are not new to this. We got in early.” Noting that the state has asked colleges to set specific goals in the area of student success and recommended that schools achieve an average increase in several areas, Gornick said, “It’s no longer good enough to meet the state average. ‘Average’ and ‘the relentless pursuit of student success’ don’t go together.”

‘We measure our success by the success of our students.’ Frank Gornick, WHCCD Chancellor

T ransitionS Gary Sedgwick, 79 Former West Hills College Lemoore counselor Gary Sedgwick passed away in January following a long illness. He worked part time at WHCL before becoming a counselor there in 1987. After retiring in the late 1990s, he came back to the school to work as a counselor assigned to helping veterans. Sedgwick also worked at Lemoore High School for many years, starting in 1965, as a biology teacher and counselor. He was also a coach for the school’s freshman football and varsity basketball teams. He was elected to the Lemoore High School Board of Trustees in 1994, serving for 16 years, and helped found the Lemoore High School Foundation for Educational Excellence. An Illinois native, Sedgwick came to the San Joaquin Valley after high school, attending Reedley College for two years before earning a degree from Fresno State in 1958. Sedgwick met his wife Lynne in Fresno, and they married in 1960.

Search to Begin for New President The search for a new president for West Hills College Lemoore will soon commence, following the announcement that current president Don Warkentin will be retiring from the position at the end of the calendar year. Warkentin, 68, has served as president since 2004, after 18 years in senior administrative roles at the college and 13 years as a teacher, coach, athletic director and administrator at Lemoore High School. He pushed to make WHCL an independent campus in 2002 and supported the building of the Golden Eagle Arena and the current construction of a student center. The college will be engaged in a nationwide search for a new president and plans to fill the position by late fall.

Softball Coach Makes Cover of California Educator WHCC Women’s Softball Coach Staci Mosher was featured on the cover of February’s California Educator Magazine, a publication of the California Teachers Association. Mosher was included in a story about the effect of Title IX legislation, a law passed in 1972 to protect students against sex discrimination, on women’s sports at high schools and colleges. Mosher spoke about the struggles she faced in her early years as a female athlete and the progress she’s seen happen toward equality for players of both sexes. In the article, she said that since the 1980s when Title IX was implemented she’s seen progress and seen women in sports get facilities and equipment equal to those afforded male athletes. “Girls had lower quality facilities and uniforms–and a smaller budget and coaching staff,” she said of her experience as a female athlete at the beginning of Title IX. “Things have improved since then.”

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9900 Cody Street Coalinga, CA 93210

When you support education, everybody wins. Don and Mary Forth have spent the past 46 years dedicating their lives to education. They continue to do so in retirement, through donations as well as active involvement in the West Hills Community College Foundation. Don, Mary and their two sons came to West Hills College in 1968 when it was still called Coalinga College. Don started teaching then and Mary began soon after in 1969. Mary taught English and, later, sociology, social problems and critical thinking and marriage and family classes. Don taught geography. Both spent the next 46 years teaching and volunteering. Don started the WHCC cross-country team in 1969, was the advisor to the International Relations Club and was head of the Falcon Fan Club for many years. He also helped to organize the United America Club. Mary served as Student Activities advisor and was the Social Science Department representative on the Curriculum Committee for four years. Don and Mary both retired more than a dozen years ago, but have continued their support. They recently endowed a scholarship through the transfer of stock to the Foundation, to provide a $500 per year scholarship in perpetuity. Don continues to recruit for the international students program and served two terms as president of the West Hills Community College Foundation. He also serves on the Hall of Fame committee. The Forths understand that when you support education, everybody wins.

For information on how you can help support education, see our website: www.whcgift.org, or contact: FrancesSquire@whccd.edu 9900 Cody St., Coalinga, CA 93210 (559) 934-2134 WestHillsCollege.com