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IDSL 894 - Journal Entry #1

Veronica Wilkerson Johnson

January 19, 2014
Dr. Sandy Shugart expressed well in his work Leadership in the
Crucible of Work that "A leader's first work, her most enduring work, is
her interior work". Toward this end of internal exploration, both
personally and at the Lansing Community College where I teach, I hope
to gain in this Practicum course the experience of working with
Gateways to Completion (G2C), the comprehensive initiative developed
by experts at the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in
Undergraduate Education, and the G2C National Advisory Committee.
This program, which was launched in the fall of 2013, is designed to
help institutions craft and implement a plan for enhancing student
success in high-risk gateway courses. The Lansing Community
College, in Lansing, Michigan, is one of 12 community colleges
nationally that comprise the first cohort in this endeavor. For my
Practicum study I will participate on a committee that will analyze and
report on the success of LCC's course, Biology 121. Since I have
particular interest in how underrepresented students succeed in STEM
education, this semester's work will greatly aid my future research. In
addition, the Faculty Process Liaison for the G2C project at LCC invited
my involvement because I teach a gateway developmental reading
course, and she is interested in my input on how the improvement of

reading and comprehension skills lend to a student's ability to grasp

the sciences.
In our readings, the Shugart book was particularly inspiring to me. He
mentioned the importance of being a good listener, and I particularly
liked his analogy of an orchestra conductor who has full command of
the musical score (i.e. the vision), but
Journal Entry #1, page 2

success of the symphonic outcome is based on the sounds generated

by each musician. While focusing on the score, the conductor must
carefully listen to the intonation, timing and volume of every sound,
simultaneously guiding the whole ensemble on its path to perfect
execution of the composition. A good leader must have this same level
of patient and precise hearing in working with others. Also, Shugart
provides excellent descriptions of the crucible - the process that
applies pressure, heat, and reactivity to forge precious metals and,
metaphorically, human character as well. A good leader will persist
while experiencing success and failure. A good leader will learn about
the "philosopher's stone" of intentionality that provides fortitude when
circumstances are difficult. Indeed, Shugart reminds us that difficulties
and setbacks can fuel transformation, if one can remain diligent and
avoid developing a sense of entitlement in settings where executive
and political power rein.

To date I have also actively worked with Group 3 in the reading and
development of a book report on A Framework for Understanding
Poverty by Dr. Ruby K. Payne. This project has been enlightening given
my path this semester in working with a G2C STEM course committee,
for in her work Dr. Payne focuses on in-depth descriptions of
generational and situational poverty, and on the differences, and
hidden rules, of the poor, middle-class and wealthy, and the ways in
which these realities influence student success. I know that this book
and group project will aid my ability to assist in the G2C initiative, and
to better guide, teach and mentor students in my future as an
educational leader.

Journal Entry #1, page 3

I am particularly pleased that I will have the opportunity to make

recommendations to the Lansing Community College regarding
effective teaching of high-risk gateway courses upon the completion of
the G2C pilot project. Also, the comprehensive work that we are
pursuing in IDSL 894 will aid in my quest.
Shugart, Sandy, PhD. Leadership in the Crucible of Work. Maitland,
Florida: Florida Hospital, 2013.

Payne, Ruby K.. A framework for understanding poverty. 4th rev. ed.
Highlands, Tex.: aha! Process, 2005.
John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.
http://www.jngi.org/. Last reviewed on 1-19-14.