Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovators – Centralia College HR Department

image of HR Department - Tammy Remund, V'Ann Kostick, Julie Ledford (Huss), and Candi Fetch

The Human Resources Department at Centralia College is another recent recipient of the Faculty/Staff Innovator Award. They are a four person team consisting of Vice President of Human Resources & Legal Affairs, Julie Ledford (Huss), Assistant to HR Director and Benefits Manager, Tammy Remund, Executive Assistant to the VP of HR, Candi Fetch, and HR Consultant, V’Ann Kostick. They are being recognized for their conversion from RainShadow to PeopleAdmin Human Resources job management software, making Skype interviewing a possibility for interviewing potential employee candidates, and starting to automate forms.

When the choice came up to make a change from the older job management software, huge sighs of relief were heard all across the web space from job applicants to search committees to the managers of the management software. The migration to PeopleAdmin software has definitely improved the overall process of posting, applying for, and reviewing of job applications. There are less phone calls from applicants and search committee participants on how to use the software or problems interacting with it. Comments received from committee members, as well as applicants include that it’s “easier to read” and “easier to use.” In addition it takes less time from HR staff for having to scan in documents, close positions and answer help calls. Taking less time and less support means it’s also saving the college money. More cheers!

It can be difficult to manage interviews when an applicant pool is vast and geographically diverse. It can be practically impossible for a screening committee to narrow a search down to only 3 to 5 applicants without having a little extra information or interaction to determine who might be a better fit. In the past, HR would set up phone teleconferences where the committee could all gather around a phone and ask questions of the applicants. This interaction has its limitations from connectivity, lack of personal connection, etc.

Centralia College’s HR department decided to expand the possibilities to connect to applicants. They created an HR Skype account, which allows for screening committees to virtually interview candidates. This service helps to narrow down an applicant pool without added expense of traveling to campus. This can be extremely helpful with candidates from all over the country and even international candidates. Using Skype has opened up options for applicants who might not have been able to travel for an interview because of money and/or time limitations. It also gives the screening committee an opportunity to see how someone interacts, their body language, eye contact, etc. that isn’t afforded over a phone. It can also speed up the process of hiring with fewer scheduling issues.

HR departments have traditionally been very paper-based. Lots of files, lots of data, lots of…paper. This is also very labor intensive, inefficient, can make it very difficult to easily retrieve data, and can be full of entry errors. To start combatting some of these issues, Centralia College’s HR department is looking to automate. They started automating with this year’s annual fall conference. Normally, a word document is sent out across campus via email for employees to fill out and email back or print out and hand in. Then, one person in the office would have to organize the data from the documents into a manual spreadsheet, then print name tags. This whole process took unbelievable amounts of person-power to complete with many opportunities for errors. This year, they made the form into an online Google form and only accepted submissions that way. These submissions were automagically populated into a spreadsheet that could then be manipulated. Countless hours were saved! In addition, a lot less copies were made, a lot less paper was used, so it was more environmentally sustainable as well. The conservation of paper was “almost more of a driver than the time savings” said one member of the department. It also made the whole process, including response time, faster!

Another efficiency the department introduced was stream-lining the process of stipends, which saves on confusion and time to pay employees.

The department would like to automate more processes and branch out into eSignatures to increase efficiency, decrease time used to process paperwork and increase effectiveness across campus. Be on the lookout for more ways you can optimize your paperwork processing.

We’re very excited to give this award to these ladies and are sure looking for even more amazingness from this extremely hardworking group!



Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Alisha Williams

Image of Alisha Williams holding a folder

Alisha Williams is an awardee of the Faculty/Staff Innovator Award at Centralia College. She is in her third quarter teaching English composition as an adjunct instructor for Centralia College. For her first English 102 course, she said she “really wanted something fun that also provided a context for writing.” So, she “decided to use a Star Trek theme and show [her] students that [she’s] not afraid of looking ridiculous if it means increased student engagement.”

Here’s what she did:

My Canvas home page was designed, with the help of Erin in eLearning, to look like a Star Trek command center. “Officer’s Log” leads to announcements, and “Submit Report” leads to discussions. At the beginning of the quarter, students receive a “cadet training folder” with a form they have to sign saying they accept their mission (which includes class expectations). I also recorded lectures (on logical fallacies) as a Vulcan. We watch one a week to maintain a Trekkie flavor and to lighten up a class which can be very intimidating for students.

In order to accomplish the course design, Alisha implemented some html Canvas-hacking she learned by attending Washington Annual Canvas Conference at Tacoma Community College during her spring break. In addition, she made Star Trek-themed videos of herself using green screen technology.

Alisha not only flavored her course for engagement, she also started using an engagement technique that’s called ‘nudging.’ This is an engagement technique that can include anything that ‘nudges’ students, whether that’s reminders about assignments or a personalized note because someone hasn’t shown up to class for a few days. Here’s what Alisha did to ‘nudge’:

Another new thing I did this quarter was giving students the option of sharing their cell phone information. If someone is absent for more than two days without contacting me, I text them and encourage them to come the next day. It does create a bit more work, but attendance and grades are better than ever before.

When asked how her innovations have affected students, the campus, and her own thinking, here’s what Alisha had to say:

I was so excited when I heard that my students were sharing the lecture videos with their friends who weren’t enrolled in my class. Someone even asked to join a group discussion for a day because their friend had told them about the topic. For every topic and controversy, students are asked to come to a consensus on how they would want things in their new colony on a new planet. It’s my hope that students carry those same skills and critical thinking to real life political processes and community involvement—Vulcan ears optional!

I sure hope Alisha and her students are having a fun time nerding out while they’re doing all that learning. We’re so excited to have such an asset (and fellow nerd) as Alisha. Congratulations and, as Captain Jean Luc Picard would say, remember to “Engage.”

Gif of Captain Picard motioning "make it so"

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Alexander Solomon

Image of Alex Solomon drinking from a metal cup

Alexander Solomon is a recent awardee of the innovator award at Centralia College. He is an artist and Assistant Professor of Art and Graphics at Centralia College. He is being recognized for his innovations in teaching art, including his recent research and development of a Computer Graphics 2 course, where students make 3D and 2D models used in video games.

Alex merges traditional  with modern and, in fact, surmises the two viewpoints are not contrary to each other, but work together. In his own words, Alex states:

I’ve been encouraging a more holistic approach to art for my students. Traditional ways of making art (drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture) and newer ways of making art(digital painting, 3D rendering, vector drawing, photo-compositing) are not opposed. They are synergistic. Being able to draw well on paper informs your ability to draw well on a computer. Drawing on a computer is a quick way to test an idea that you plan on drawing on paper later. They are all tools used to make the same thing. Art. Students should know the right tool for the right job.  Making art in a variety of mediums changes the way an artist thinks and feels about their work. They get special insight into both their own motivation for making art and how the medium informs the message. I want my students to be challenged intellectually and also technically in their craft. Well rounded.

Keeping this philosophy in mind, Alex set out to create 2 new courses that seemed to oppose each other:

With this in mind I’ve created 2 new courses that are almost diametrically opposed. Computer Graphics 2 and Printmaking. The printmaking course utilizes a traditional etching press and techniques that date back as far as the 15th century. Students will learn how to soak papers, run the press, create acid etchings, relief prints, t-shirts and screen prints. Printmaking is process-oriented and technical. When art student’s hands are busy, interesting things tend to happen with their work. The second course, Computer Graphics 2, builds on the skills developed in Computer Graphics 1 but focuses specifically on making art for kinetic, interactive art; video games.  Students will learn to make 3D models for 3D games using Maya and 2D sprites for 2D games using a variety of programs. Computer art is, by definition hands off. It’s a more intellectual approach to making art with fewer barriers to getting a finished product. Making art on computers often changes the art that students make art by hand. Sometimes the artwork that students make by hand becomes more gestural and messy; a kind of celebration of the lack of control that you have outside of a computer. Sometimes students see digital art as a challenge, an exactness that they should be able to accede or at least mimic with their hands.

When asked how these innovations have affected students, Alex had this to say:

I tend to ask my students to do the same thing in every class. I ask them to make something visually dynamic, intuitively interesting, successful and self-contained. They then proceed to use different tools to make something visually dynamic, intuitively interesting, successful and self-contained. At first, in 2D Design we try and figure out what those things mean. Students have to define those terms and many others terms on their own and test out their ideas by making simple, black and white drawings that they present to the class. As students take other courses like Photography, Computer Graphics or Drawing, the goal is the same but they have to adapt and work with the limitations of that medium. As they work through different mediums they develop preferences for specific tools, they start finding a voice and they are able to more eloquently express themselves both visually and verbally.

We’re very excited to have Alex and his innovative teaching here at Centralia College, and it is with pleasure that we bestow this award to him.

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Kelli Bloomstrom

Kelli Bloomstrom Image - Edited

Kelli Bloomstrom is another recently recognized innovator at Centralia College. She is the Dean of Transitional Education & Centralia College East and known for her exceptional work ethic, as well as how much she sells herself and her abilities short. Something she never lacks in is supporting her faculty, staff and the students in her programs.

Since 2009, Kelli has been Associate Dean of CC East, providing instruction in the classroom, leadership and advocacy for the campus that serves the east county. Her leadership skills and work ethic provided her the opportunity to serve as the Dean of Transitional Education on main campus, as well, starting in January of 2015.

Since that time Kelli has not only maintained her unbelievable support of faculty, staff and students of east county, but has expanded to being an integral part of the college mission by writing federal grants, establishing programs and pathways for students getting their GEDs or High School diplomas.

In her own words:

I am supporting faculty. Project I-DEA (Integrated Digital English Acceleration) is an educational project with support from the Gates Foundation that includes innovative instruction for ESL learners in the three lowest levels using best practices of I-BEST, an information literacy approach, and the “flipped classroom” model to support student learning. This project is grant funded and supports learning outside of the classroom by providing students with computers and 24-7 internet.

In Basic Skills, Kelli has written several grants that are funding  “creation of new courses that create intentional pathways from basic skills to the various certificate/degree programs offered at Centralia College.”

These innovations have greatly affected the workload of the faculty; creating new courses and curriculum is always time consuming, but well worth it especially when it positively affects learning. We look forward to continuing the work with our Workforce Education, Child and Family Studies, and Academic Transfer campus partners developing pathways that are clear, intentional and supportive to help students transition successfully to other campus programs.

We’re super excited about the work the Kelli and her team are doing and continue to cheer them on. Thanks for the awesomeness, Kelli!

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Melissa Williams

Melissa Williams Image - Edited

Melissa Williams is another of Centralia College’s recently recognized innovators. She is a Communications Assistant Professor who teaches English, Public Speaking, Intro to mass Media and Intercultural Communication courses. Melissa is quite adept at thinking outside the box, searching for solutions and for how to make things easier for her students.

In her own words:

 One of the innovative things I have brought to English 102 is LiveBinders. LiveBinders is a website that provides organized, cloud based storage in the form of an online binder. The virtual binder gives students a place to easily organize and store their research materials and accompanying notes, summaries, and drafts. As a teacher, I can easily check on their progress from any computer while their peers can simultaneously offer helpful feedback and commentary.

With a LiveBinder, students are no longer required to spend money and time printing their resources out, and they can receive feedback in real time rather than waste time handing the physical binder back and forth between student and teacher.

Melissa can also be seen helping out in the eLearning office to problem solve technology issues with students, faculty and staff. Melissa is another huge asset to the wonderful team at Centralia College.

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Otto Rabe

Otto and Shyla Rabe Image Edited

Otto Rabe is one of our recently recognized innovators. He is the Professor of Accounting/Business at Centralia College, where he teaches, manages the Forensic Accounting Club (FAC) and the VITA Tax center.

The VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, program is offered as a service to the community from accounting students at Centralia College. This allows them to gain critical experience working in real world situations through volunteering their time.

The FAC has guest speakers and partake in “The Great Forensic Challenge” each year. In this popular event for accounting students, they learn what it’s like to look for fraud and collusion between two mock companies. This activity also coordinates with Centralia College drama students, who play CEOs of companies and other roles who may need to be interrogated.

Otto’s fun-loving attitude is coupled with his serious attention to student outcomes. In his own words:

I take a holistic commercial approach to delivering instruction as it applies to the field of public accounting. I infuse real-world activity into academia in order to create a more work-focused student outcome. Some examples are: Students auditing actual companies in the “Live Audit” project, outside professionals speak to the FAC club in a guest speaker capacity, and students doing taxes for the general public.

Otto’s innovations are far-reaching and felt across the campus, especially by his students.

It has a very positive affect! It forces me to align instructional outcome with current industry expectation. Students seem to have a better developed sense of their career choices, and I am able to become better connected with the students and their academic development.

Otto’s innovations are affecting the students, the campus and the community. Thanks for all your amazing work, Otto! Keep it up, dude!

Want to Help Students Start the Term Off Well? Tell Them About Week Zero

The blessed occasion is almost upon us here at Centralia College.

Start of the term – Yay!

There are some important things you can do as an educator or student services member to help students start the term off well. Having a friendly face, giving clear directions or expectations are a couple of ideas, but the big one I’m talking about is all about that bass. Ok, not that bass, but Week Zero, which is pretty awesome, too.

What the heck is Week Zero?

“Week Zero” has been established at schools around the world  for the past several years – since the advent of eLearning, web-enhanced, hybrid and online courses. It all started with the idea that while the world keeps advancing and moving forward with the latest and greatest technologies, not all students have ever heard of them, let alone used them for school where they’ll get graded for it. So, to put students minds at ease as to what they could expect in the courses, the technology they’d need to use and any potential problems they’d encounter, Week Zero was born.

The idea behind Week Zero is a prep week with no stakes attached to it.

It’s a week where students could look around, familiarize themselves with how to get around the classes, practice submitting things, read the syllabus and ask for help on technology they don’t understand up front while familiarizing themselves with resources.

The research shows that students who have a better understanding of what’s expected of them before the start of the course have a much higher success rate than those who don’t. This is especially crucial for first-time students, online and hybrid students, students returning to school after a long absence and Running Start students. It would be like starting a brand new job and being expected to hit the ground running, having no idea what you’ll be doing, when/where you should show up, what tools you’ll be using, what language you’ll be speaking, what you should wear, or who you should speak to.

GIF of man on the verge of tears, holding his head with caption "This is too much."

too much” from Reaction GIFs, June 24, 2015.

Week Zero at Centralia College

Here at Centralia College, Week Zero started in Angel the week before the term started. All classes were automatically opened to students to start moving around in and there was a course where people could go in and practice submitting assignments, posting in discussion forums, taking quizzes, etc.

Now, with Canvas, instructors are able to publish their courses themselves and can choose whether or not to have them open during Week Zero. We still publicize Week Zero for students and HIGHLY recommend to instructors to publish their courses and have some welcome and introductory material for students because this is so CRUCIAL to student success.

What can you do to support students with this?

If you’re in student services, let students know about this resource when they register, get advised, convey nerves around the start of the quarter, express they’ve been out of school for a while, ask when they can access their courses, express difficulties, etc.

If you’re an instructor, be prepared for Week Zero. Publish your course a week before the term starts. Have a welcome page when students enter your class that greets as well as directs students where to go, what to do, gives expectations, directs to resources, etc. Don’t assume students know everything. You can put some orientation material in the course to have students practice assignments, quizzes and discussion forums, but make sure these are not graded. If you’d like assistance in creating any of these or ideas for what to do, just ask eLearning – we’d be more than happy to help!

***Remember, you can always refer students to eLearning for help and support if they ask you something you’re not sure about or how to do. ***

Walk in support: NW corner of Kirk Library


Phone: (360) 736 – 9391 ext. 672


Remember, sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impacts. Help your students start the term off successfully with Week Zero.