The Barnes Seminar is a two-and-a-half day residential program built on the Great Teachers’ Movement model. It is broadly interdisciplinary and inter-generational; the workshops allow faculty to share teaching challenges and successes and in the process identify innovations in teaching. Barnes is one of the longest-running Great Teachers Seminars nationally. Since its inception in 1987, it has served as a foundational professional development program sponsored by the Connecticut Community College’s Center for Teaching.
This year, the Seminar’s 30th year was commemorated with a celebration at the Connecticut State Capitol, which included special remarks by Bill Searle – founder of the CT Center for Teaching and by Dr. Jane Gates - Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs for the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities System. Naugatuck Valley Community College professors Kim O’Donnell, Patti Pallis and Ruth Urbina-Lilback have been three of the nine program coordinators in the history of the seminar.
Present coordinator, Ruth Urbina-Lilback noted that “Barnes gives us, a collective of community college educators, the opportunity to learn from each other’s teaching practices, and the opportunity to find responsive ways to support our students’ unique needs through risk-taking, reflection and self-appraisal.”
Having attended this year’s seminar, an enthusiastic group of NVCC faculty are looking forward to the new academic year where they will use what they have learned to enrich classroom teaching. Participation in the seminar also required earlier preparation, as one of the central aspects of the program is to write and discuss two papers focusing on a teaching innovation and a teaching challenge.
NVCC faculty whose outstanding commitment to professional growth, included Jay Halpern, Gerry Hikel, Nikki McGary, Steven Parlato, Kevin Ramer, Christopher Rempfer, Jason Seabury. NVCC’s faculty member, and past participant, Rebecca Stadel Binney remarked that Barnes “developed a confidence in my teaching I didn't know I needed, but now value beyond the confidences I have gained in just about every other professional development activity.”