CTN’s Spring Seminar which will be held on March 30th and 31st at Palo Alto College in San Antonio. The ASCENDER Spring Seminar brings together scholar mentors, educators, advisors, counselors, and trainers from across the state to discuss progress and challenges in the program and to share best practices in the classroom. The third and final seminar for cohort 2022-23, the series focuses on components of the ASCENDER Framework for Student and Faculty Advancement. The seminar will focus on the retention of students for the upcoming fall term and the recruitment of new first-year students for the next academic year while also addressing the needs of various disciplines through breakout sessions. Additionally, we will be incorporating guidance and adaptations for technology in the delivery/implementation of our Ascender framework.

The proposed agenda for the seminar begins with a welcome and ice breaker presented by Dr. Maria Martha Chavez, CTN Chief Executive Officer and Dr. Anna B. Alaniz, Director of Professional Development (STC).

Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize Award Winning Author, will be the presenter for the first session titled “Enrique’s Journey: Traumas Immigrant Students Bring to the Classroom and How Educators Can Help.”  Nazario will discuss an immigrant’s experience, her experience, and specific actions educators can take to help immigrant children get past these traumas so they can learn.

Her session will be followed by “Project Males: Guiding Male Students to Successfully Navigate Higher Education” presented by Dr. Victor Saenz, Acting Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusive Excellence at UT. Participants will learn mentoring components and strategies of how to support males in higher education to assist them in completing and reaching their goals.

In the next session “Catching Students Before They Fall: Retention is Key to Student Success,” participants will reflect on the challenges students face that can hinder retention and persistence, and then discuss ways to help support students and ensure their persistence to completion and transfer to a university. This session is led by Dr. Alaniz.

“Unleashing Students’ Potential Through Culturally Relevant Mathematics” will be presented by Elsa Cantu from the University of Texas- San Antonio. Participants will discuss ways to help support students and ensure their persistence to completion in mathematics courses.

Break out sessions by departments will be next. These will be led primarily by CTN Leadership Fellows: English- Rafael Castillo, Palo Alto College and Laurie Coleman, San Antonio College; Mathematics- Elsa Cantu, University of Texas- San Antonio; Learning Frameworks -Yolanda Reyna, Palo Alto College and Daniel Rodriguez, Palo Alto College; Advising- Vidal Almanza, Austin Community College; Mentoring -Diane Lerma, Palo Alto College; Administration -Martha Chavez and Joan Jaimes, San Antonio College.

In the final session of the day titled “Place Based Writing Assignment: The Power of Observation,” participants will explore connections between place, personal experience, and literacy as a powerful and inspiring tool for teaching writing. This session will be led by Debra McBeath, CTN Director of Communications.

A reception with refreshments will end the day. PAC President Robert Garza will welcome guests and the keynote speaker will be Dr. Elena Foulis.

The first session of day two titled  “Guiding Generation C to Focus on their Career Aspirations Despite Obstacles They Encounter” will be presented by Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Reyna. Participants will explore career exploration, motivation, and how to support Gen C. and listen to a panel of Gen C- Ascender students and their perspectives on the issues at hand.

After a short break, Darrial Reynolds, South Texas College and Armando Sanchez, Ascender Alumni will present “Developing Student Leadership through Political Science” The goal is for participants to learn how to support and develop leadership skills in their courses.

Next participants will learn how to do gallery walks, artifact writings, and drawings to support the learners in Artist Liliana Wilson’s session titled “Artwork as a Form of Validation through the Lens of an Artist.”

After lunch, campus teams will meet to discuss lessons learned and promising strategies, and plan for future semesters as an institution.

The final session of the seminar will be “Creating a Transfer Community in which participants will explore different strategies on how they can support and breakdown barriers to facilitate the transfer process for students who want to attend a four-year institution. This session will be led by Dr. Erin Doran, CTN’s Director of Data Analysis & Research.



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