New Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence aims to empower faculty
Palm Beach State College recently celebrated the opening of the permanent home for its Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at the Lake Worth campus that will serve as a hub for innovation, further elevate classroom instruction for students and position the College as a leader in educator development and professional learning.
Staff, faculty, students, trustees and guests packed the more than 7,500-square-foot facility Nov. 30 for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Housed on the second floor of the Technology Center building, the CTLE features high-tech equipment, an active learning studio, collaboration spaces, as well as offices and conference rooms with glass doors and walls. It also houses staff supporting PBSC Online. It replaces the former Professional Teaching and Learning Center, which was tucked in a small workroom inside the campus library.
Roger Yohe, Ph.D., vice president of innovation and strategy, led the initiative to construct a robust, forward-thinking site for the CTLE, and worked alongside faculty and various College departments, including Facilities and IT, to see the project come to fruition. He said it is a result of “community and partnership.”
“This would not have happened without both,” Yohe said. “This initiative truly involved a community that understands the need for instructional excellence.”
PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D., said the CTLE is a commitment to the faculty and staff. “We want to be an institution that supports our faculty and staff and finds ways to ensure that they can be the best that they can possibly be at their craft. I’m pleased to work at an institution that is not focused so much on research but is focused on building master instructors and teachers and really focused on teaching and learning.”
She added that with the strengthened focus on technology through the CTLE, PBSC can be an example for others to follow. “We will be the envy of the great 28,” she said, referring to the institutions that comprise the Florida College System, “because not many institutions have a center like this that is so supportive of faculty and staff. We can be the leader and set the pace for everyone else with our use of technology.”
Parker also applauded staff and faculty for their drive and work on the project. “We have faculty who are curious and who are committed to working together for the success of our students, and it’s that curiosity that’s going to make this space so special.”
With PBSC approaching its 90th anniversary in 2023, Carolyn Williams, chair of the PBSC Board of Trustees, said the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence continues the legacy of the College, which has worked to ensure that students are successful and served well.
“This is going to be an absolutely marvelous place for innovation and learning,” Williams said. “The best way to continuously improve teaching and learning is by supporting our faculty in the discovery of new and interesting ways to engage students during their educational journey.”
The project was funded with a portion of a Title V grant PBSC received from the U.S. Department of Education in 2020 for its Pathways to Success Initiative. English professor Matt Klauza, Ph.D., developed the grant proposal with PBSC’s Grants office. The initiative includes four components, including the creation of the CTLE to improve the capacity of faculty to address the needs of Hispanic and low-income students. The components of the Pathways to Success initiative are in line with the College’s strategic plan goal to achieve equitable graduation rates for all students. The $3 million Title V grant, awarded under the U.S. Department of Education’s –Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions Program, provides $600,000 a year for five years.
To qualify for the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, PBSC’s enrollment had to reach at least 25% Hispanic in the year prior to applying for the designation. Although the Hispanic population has grown through the years, PBSC reached the required threshold in 2013. Today, the Hispanic student population, the largest at the College, is now 33% of the student population.
“Everything we create here scaffolds into every single student we encounter,’’ said Joshua Kanies, Ed.D., director of the CTLE said after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Even though we are addressing the needs of the grant that we received from the federal government, our goal is to take that and spread it out across all our campuses and all of our students.”