Chesapeake College Director of Academic Support Melina Baer was recently selected for the Top 40 Women under 40 by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
Baer was honored at the AACC Annual Conference in Chicago with the 40 under 40 award. Awarded to 40 “up-and-coming” women who are also under the age of 40, the designation recognizes work in community colleges across the country. The honorees demonstrate high potential for success in leadership roles and a strong commitment to the mission of community colleges.
“Melina is a dynamic leader whose ability and commitment to student success ensures that the future of community colleges is in good hands,” said Chesapeake College President Barbara Viniar in nomination of Baer for the honor.
Baer is trying an approach with tutoring this year that reflects a nationwide interest in the role that “grit” plays in academic success. Students who may struggle with traditional academic skills can still be successful in the classroom, according to Baer
“There are those students who are naturally academically gifted who do well in school. They manage to get through their academic careers with minimal work and they are successful. There is another type of student, for whom academic work doesn't come quite so naturally, but they are determined. They are successful because they work hard, learn how to face challenges and simply do not give up,” Baer said. “We can all learn something from those students.”
Dean of Learning Services Chandra Giglotti added that Baer’s new vision for Academic Support Services has a long-term pay off for students.
“Melina and the staff are helping these students become lifelong learners. They’re emphasizing the importance of hard work and determination in being successful,” Gigliotti said. “These are life skills that go far beyond the classroom.”
This past fall, Baer launched a pilot program with members of the Chesapeake’s men’s basketball team to improve retention and classroom success.
“We used tutoring and study sessions, but the athletes raised discussions on non-academic issues all the time,” Baer said. “These are athletes who are competing at a high level, so they have proven that they are determined and can meet challenges. We wanted them to see these as skills that they already possess, and that can be used to face academic challenges.”
Baer said the Academic Support Center staff helped the student athletes see for themselves the qualities that can bring success on the basketball court, can help them succeed in the classroom.
In the upcoming year, Baer and her team plan to incorporate more non-academic skills into tutoring for all students.