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Connecting Learning to Practice: A visit to Virginia Peninsula Community College

  • In the photo (from left to right):
    In the photo (from left to right):  Todd Estes M.Ed. ’11, Ph.D. ’23 (VPCC), Catherine Hartman (W&M Course Faculty), Jeannetta Hollins (VPCC), Gabriel Roybal (W&M), Rachel Smith (W&M), Sonja Vega (VPCC), Melanie McNall (VPCC), Porter Brannon (VPCC President), Kerry Ragno (VPCC), Hayden Cunningham (W&M), Jamie Blanch (W&M), Steven Felker (VPCC), Megan Kaiser (W&M), Cynthia Callaway (VPCC), Steven Carpenter (VPCC)  
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Connecting what students learn about theory and research in graduate classes to the field helps provide opportunities for authentic learning to occur. School of Education adjunct professor Catherine Hartman ’13, M.Ed. ’15 is teaching The Community College class this semester. As a community college transfer student herself, Dr. Hartman understands the value these institutions provide as gateways to higher education. Her doctoral work at The University of Texas at Austin focused on community colleges, culminating with her dissertation research titled “Understanding Student Engagement and Intentions to Transfer among Community College English Learners.”

Dr. Hartman arranged for a class visit to Virginia Peninsula Community College (VPCC). She noted, “I’m thrilled that we were able to tour VPCC and meet with members of the college’s leadership team. This visit provided a unique opportunity for us to learn more about the challenges and opportunities that community college students face and the innovative approaches leaders are using to support student success. We are grateful to the VPCC leadership team for their hospitality and look forward to engaging in more conversations and learning partnerships with them.” The class was able to hear from a number of leaders at VPCC, including college president Dr. Porter Brannon. Additional speakers included: Todd Estes M.Ed. ’11, Ph.D. ’23 (Interim Vice President for Workforce Development and Innovation at VPCC), Dr. Jeannetta Hollins (Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success at VPCC), Sonja Vega (Great Expectations Coach and Interim Title IX Coordinator and Accessibility Services at VPCC), Dr. Valerie Burge Hall (Interim Director for Academic Advising at VPCC), Melanie McNall (Interim Chief Human Resources Officer at VPCC), Dr. Kerry Ragno (Vice President for Academic Affairs at VPCC), Steven Felker (Director of Institutional Research & Effectiveness at VPCC), Cynthia Callaway (Vice President for Institutional Advancement at VPCC), and Steven Carpenter (Vice President for Finance & Administration at VPCC).

This visit allowed students to make connections to their course materials. Hayden Cunningham, M.Ed. ’23 shared: “For nearly four hours, the entire leadership team of Virginia Peninsula Community College walked us around their Historic Triangle campus, told us about the various programs VPCC offered, and discussed the various challenges and opportunities that come with leading a community college. They were open and honest about their opinions, their struggles, and their victories throughout their careers at VPCC and other institutions. The passion, expertise, experience, and energy VPCC's leadership team brought to our meeting was incredible. They were as excited to share as we were to learn, and the experience was a highlight of my time at William & Mary.”