May 10th, 2023
Jackson State Community College has announced the creation of an innovative Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) embedded in the college’s Jackson campus. The center will offer faculty professional development opportunities to participate in pedagogical trainings and workshops, one-on-one consultations, as well as peer collaboration.
The TLC allows JSCC to provide an internal resource for faculty to engage in best practices for course development, as well as develop a deeper knowledge of high-impact and evidence-based practices. Through the training offered by the center, the faculty will have a chance to work together to learn strong methods of engaging students in this post-Covid world. The TLC is a valuable resource for JSCC’s faculty, not only because of the training opportunities, but also as a support system for faculty in their continued development as educators.
“Not only do we have some incredibly distinguished faculty here at Jackson State, but we also have the most caring faculty I’ve ever known. Our faculty are always striving to help our students be successful not only in their classes, but in their lives. My hope is that the Teaching and Learning Center will allow us to gather and work together so we can share our expertise with one another and in turn provide our students the best education possible,” said Tammy Prater, Chair of Humanities at JSCC and the newly appointed Director of the TLC. “The TLC is the result of a great deal of work by a number of faculty and administrators on our campus. As educators and lifelong learners, we realized that having the opportunity and space on our campus for faculty development would allow us to share some of the vast knowledge we have as a faculty body. Doing so will be of great benefit for our students.”
A physical space for the center has been selected on the first floor of the Walter L. Nelms Classroom Building where renovations are already underway. While the space is under renovation, the TLC is already offering faculty trainings, virtual roundtables, and time for gathering and reflecting. The TLC is also coordinating with the Distance Education office to offer sessions on teaching tools and skills such as Respondus, Digication, eLearn, and the use of quick links. One-on-one consultations are also available with Prater and her team in areas such as course development, student engagement, design skills and Open Educational Resources (OER).
“Our faculty highlighted a need for a professional development hub that would allow them to collaborate and develop curriculum to meet the needs of the next generation of college students,” said Dr. Jennifer Lopes, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Advancement in technology and the recent pandemic have changed the learning environment for both students and faculty. Our faculty is developing curriculum for multiple modalities of delivery and to more fully incorporate the student experience. In response, the college made professional development and the promotion of the TLC a goal of our 2022-2025 Strategic Plan. This learning center will allow our faculty to share coursework development strategies, host seminars on topics of expertise, focus on student engagement and academic support, and much more. This center will be a hub for the exchange of knowledge and best practices, and it also represents the collaborative efforts being made between faculty and the administration to meet the needs of our students through continued education.
As part of the Teaching and Learning Center’s development, a search was conducted in 2022 to select a director for the soon-to-be center. Tammy Prater, an associate history professor and Chair of Humanities was selected to fill the role given her knowledge and background.
In Prater’s application for the position, she wrote, “Faculty understand 21st century students are not the same as 20th century students. There are different demands on them in society, different experiences, new technologies, etc. I believe that this understanding is a gateway to faculty understanding that learning new ways to engage students in the classroom is essential.”
Throughout her nearly 20-year career in education, she has prioritized professional development and student engagement. She has both taught and developed a number of courses in history and college success. She has also facilitated numerous training sessions and workshops. She has a wealth of knowledge on engaging students and tailoring courses to fit their individual needs.
“I’m very excited for the possibilities this center is going to offer us and the plans that Tammy has already implemented,” said Dr. Lopes. “She has been a loyal advocate for this center far before her appointment and the center's inception. I believe she’ll be an excellent resource for the center and our faculty as the inaugural director.”
Renovations are currently underway and are expected to be completed in Fall 2023. The process to assemble a formal committee is underway to discuss an official name for the center. The current proposed name is the “Dr. Mechel Camp Teaching & Learning Center”, named after JSCC’s late Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Mechel Camp.
The Teaching and Learning Center’s Mission
The mission of Jackson State Community College’s Teaching and Learning Center is to empower and support full-time and part-time faculty in their pursuit of excellence in the classroom. By providing training opportunities, along with time for collaboration and reflection, we wish to create a space that encourages equity and innovation while rekindling the spirit of the life-long learner.