Teaching, Learning, and Distance Education News

Introducing Alyssa Spoolstra: Adjunct Faculty Liaison

Please welcome our new adjunct faculty liaison, Alyssa Spoolstra!  Alyssa is currently teaching courses in U.S. history as an instructor in the Social Sciences department and is a recipient of a TLDE Innovation Grant for her BreakoutEDU collaborative classroom project.  Alyssa is available to support our adjunct faculty members and can be reached via email at alyssaspoolstra@grcc.edu.  Please also keep an eye on your inboxes for a survey from Alyssa about a winter adjunct faculty event.

Did you know?  We have a podcast!

The latest episode of “Speaking of Teaching” is out now.  “Speaking of Teaching” is a podcast by TLDE for faculty in need of connection, inspiration, and a good laugh.  The podcast is in its second season and is hosted by Meg Lockhard, Rachel Lutwick-Deaner, and Ian Matthews.  In the February 13 episode, “It’s like the disco era,” GRCC professor of Humanities, Christopher Johnston, shares his youthful aspirations of becoming a soccer player, his academic path through a wide array of departments, and bundling up for his first Michigan winter. What would Chris be doing if he weren’t an educator?  Click here to listen and find out.

Reminder: Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation

On Saturday, May 6th, between 9am-11am, GRCC IT will be updating Blackboard to incorporate the new Ultra Base Navigation. This new navigation has a sleek, modern look and feel, and will save you time with simpler workflows and easier access to important information.  Learn more on the Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation Transition Hub.

Featured Upcoming Workshops/Events:

  1. Introducing Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation – Friday, February 24, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. and Tuesday, February 28, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., Virtual
  2. Understanding the New General Education Outcomes- Tuesday, February 28, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m., In Person **Light Snacks will be provided.
  3. LibreFest 2023 – Wednesday, March 22 and Thursday, March 23rd, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. **Lunch will be provided on both days.
  4. Winter Semester TLDE Faculty Liaison Office Hours, Virtually: Tuesdays 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. (email dvilmont@grcc.edu to request a virtual appointment).  
  5. TLDE Office Information: The TLDE office location is RJF 373.  TLDE staff are available Mondays – Fridays from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to assist you!  Please stop by the office, email cte@grcc.edu, or call 616-234-3205 and we will be happy to assist you!

Please visit CTE’s Calendar and Programming webpage for the current listing of all Winter 2023 Professional Development opportunities being offered by TLDE!

Commencement Volunteers Wanted

Dear Colleagues,

The event of the year is here, along with an opportunity for you to play a part in our students’ BIG NIGHT.

Commencement is the happiest time of year in higher ed as we see the students we’ve supported over the years achieve their degree and celebrate their accomplishments.

If you are not faculty or a Dean that needs to participate in the academic procession, please volunteer your time to support this event and the achievements of our students on this special occasion.

Please sign up here by March 1.

The Commencement planning team

Join GRCC’s Older Learners at the movies

Join GRCC’s Older Learners at the movies to see 80 for Brady starring Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Rita Moreno, and Lily Tomlin!

This is open to students, staff, faculty, and the general public who are 60 years old or older.

We will be meeting outside the Rivertown Celebration Cinema movie theater at 11:00am on Monday, February 27, 2023.

Lunch on your own at the food court (we can sit together!)

either before or after the movie depending on the scheduled showtime*

Tickets for the movie are $10 or less**

Registration appreciated at grcc.edu/olc.

Play and Learn GRCC: Spring Play Event March 8

Play and Learn GRCC is hosting a Spring Play event for families with children infant through 5 years old. 

This event is Wednesday, March 8 from 9 a.m. to noon. This is the week of GRCC spring break at the GRCC Early Childhood Learning Lab, 210 Lyon St. NE.

Bring your family for a little while or  stay the whole time!

  • Meet the Play and Learn Staff
  • Check out a Playgroup
  • Explore learning through play

GRCC’s four guitar instructors all ‘walked these halls as students. Now we’re back to teach the next generation’

 Brian Morris and Jonathan Marshall dressed all in black, sitting on a bench. playing guitars.

After a dozen years as an adjunct instructor at Grand Rapids Community College, Jonathan Marshall is in his first year as an assistant professor in the music department and the college’s Director of Guitar Studies. And he couldn’t be happier.

“This is the best job in the world,” he said. “Our students are great, and the people I work with in the music department, just amazing, amazing people. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

In addition to his teaching and work as director, Marshall also heads up the GRCC International Guitar Series and the GRCC Community Guitar Ensemble/Society and is director of the GRCC Virtual Youth Guitar Competition.

“It’s busy,” he said with a chuckle. “But it’s a busy I wouldn’t trade for anything. I was a student here myself to be back in this capacity is a dream come true.”

In fact, Marshall added, he and the college’s three other guitar teachers – Brian Morris (his predecessor as Director of Guitar Studies), Kyle Thompson and Jeremy Verwys – are all GRCC alumni, graduates of the guitar concentration that is part of the associate degree in music.

“We all walked these halls as students,” he said. “Now we’re back to teach the next generation. And what’s even better is we all get along, we all work hard, and we all want to see our students succeed. It’s pretty cool.”

What’s also pretty cool, he said, are the students he and his colleagues work with daily and the opportunities they have to succeed.

“The students we work with value their education, and they want to get as much knowledge as they can while they are here,” he said. “And for us, we walked the path they are on now, so it’s really fulfilling to see them develop these skills that they can use the rest of their life. At the end of the day, you can either watch Netflix all day or you can practice guitar, right.”

GRCC music students can be a guitar performance major and also have guitar as their applied instrument while pursuing a different music degree, including Instrumental StudiesPiano and Organ StudiesRecording Technology and Vocal.

Marshall said there are typically 10-15 students enrolled in applied guitar lessons (one-on-one lessons), and the department also offers group guitar classes in classical guitar, beginning guitar and jazz guitar. And students who take applied lessons or guitar class often later enroll in the GRCC guitar ensemble.

“It’s safe to say that there is a lot of guitar going on at GRCC music,” Marshall said.

Marshall and his guitar colleagues all play professionally, and he said the thrill of performing never gets old. It’s also eye-opening for GRCC students to see their instructors in action.

“When people hear something, and you see them happy because our fingers can do this, it’s satisfying,” he said. “And for our students, yeah, we’ll play, maybe as part of the (International Guitar) series, and it opens their eyes.”

Marshall performs with Morris in the Grand Rapids Guitar Duo, and they will perform at GRCC on April 13 as part of the International Guitar Series.

Morris was his mentor when Marshall was a student at GRCC, before he went on to study classical guitar with Carlos De La Barrera at Grand Valley State University and complete his master’s degree at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati under Professor Clare Callahan.

As he looks back on his academic career though, his experience at GRCC, Marshall said, remains the most formative part of his higher education experience.

“Being here was just an amazing experience,” he said. “I think sometimes when students leave GRCC, and this was true for me, maybe they are expecting something better and bigger. But that’s not always the case. And wherever they go or whatever they do, I know our students are well prepared for the next step.”

Marshall added with a laugh that he initially came to GRCC because of the culinary program, but then realized there was a waitlist so figured he’d bide his time until there was an opening. Having studied music as a child, including guitar, he migrated to the music department, and it was love at first note.

“I never left,” he said laughing. “GRCC Music is where I found my purpose.”

This story was reported by Phil de Haan.

My Story Started at GRCC: Super Bowl official Dino Paganelli says GRCC prepared him for the NFL’s biggest game

Dino Paganelli standing with a baseball player at LMCU baseball field, smiling.

Dino Paganelli has risen to the pinnacle of the National Football League’s officiating ranks, including working the most recent Super Bowl as a back judge, his third Super Bowl assignment.

And, he said, a lot of the credit for his officiating career – as well as his 25 years as a high school teacher and coach at Wyoming Public Schools – goes to GRCC.

Start at GRCC and go anywhere. Every former student has a story to tell about how GRCC gave them the education and opportunity to be successful.

Paganelli came to the college after his 1986 graduation from Wyoming Rogers High School, where he was a standout football, basketball and baseball player. In fact, it was baseball that brought him to GRCC as a scholarship student-athlete, playing his first year for Tom Hofmann and his second year for Doug Wabeke.

Early on in his journey to an associate degree, he took a class with Hofmann called simply “Sports Officiating.”

He recalled that class recently.

“I had some officiating in my family, but it was that class with the no-longer-with-us-but-oh-so-legendary Tom Hofmann that really started me on my officiating journey,” Paganelli said.

Indeed, that class led to two years of fall officiating for Paganelli at high schools across the area.

“I’ll never forget picking up some games at Lowell High School,” he said. “That was my first game. My high school best friend and I went out on a Saturday and did games from eight in the morning until one o’clock in the afternoon. Been doing games ever since.”

Paganelli’s most recent football officiating gig was a long way away from Lowell, Michigan.

In Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 12, 2023, he worked his third Super Bowl, and he said the experience never gets old.

“It really is amazing,” he said this week as he looked back at Super Bowl LVII, won by the Kansas City Chiefs in a see-saw battle against the Philadelphia Eagles. “The NFL is a big business, and the Super Bowl is a big event. You’ve got the game obviously, the halftime show, there’s a lot of moving parts.”

The build-up to the game, he added, does make the Super Bowl a bit different than regular season games or even other playoff games.

“By maybe Friday, Saturday you have to eliminate watching TV, ESPN and those sorts of things,” he said. “Because by then we’re so bombarded with information and it’s like Super Bowl overload. By the time kickoff comes, every official is just ready to get the game started because of the hype.”

At that point, Paganelli said, the game becomes like a normal game – for the officials and the players – and instincts kick in.

“You do what you’ve been trained to do,” he said.

Having retired from his career as a high school teacher, Paganelli now is looking forward to a little downtime before heading back to lots of work next season with the NFL.

“It’s a long haul,” he said with a smile. “You know, we start with meetings in July and August is always a busy month. I think one August I was gone 21 or 22 days with training camps. And if you’re fortunate your season ends in February and you’re doing a championship or a Super Bowl.”

Still, he was quick to add, he loves the work. There’s no mandatory retirement age for NFL officials and Paganelli, at the age of 55, said he devotes a lot of time to staying sharp physically and mentally.

“I think you have to always do a self-reflection about your abilities,” he said. “More so than an age number, it’s about ‘Am I still performing at a high level?’ I would like to think that if I continue to stay physically fit and my skill levels continue to remain the same or improve, I’d like to go 10 to 12 more years.”

And even after his retirement from football officiating, Paganelli said, he plans to give back to the profession by being a supervisor and staying involved in officiating in some sort of teaching fashion at either the professional or college levels.

In that regard, he said, he’d be following in the footsteps of his father, Carl Paganelli Sr., who was the supervisor of officiating for the Arena Football League and also had a long career as an on-field official at every level from high school to the USFL and the World League of American Football.

Carl Paganelli also was respected for his willingness to give back to the world of officiating, and Dino Paganelli said at GRCC he found others who were willing to invest in him.

“When I look back at my baseball experiences and my friendships as a student-athlete, it was still the best time of my life,” he said. “Playing baseball, meeting the friends that I did, the coaches and professors investing in you, growing academically, which I really needed, I have a really warm spot in my heart for GRCC. It was a perfect fit for me as it is for many.”

After his graduation from GRCC, Paganelli went on to play baseball for and graduate from Aquinas College with a bachelor’s degree in history in Physical Education. He then worked for almost four years, but felt the pull toward K-12 education and returned to Aquinas to earn a master’s in education and launch his 25-year career in Wyoming Public Schools, from which he retired in June 2022.

He also launched his officiating career, working high school and then the MIAA, GLIAC, MAC and Big Ten before getting the call from the NFL in 2006.

“My brother Perry was an assistant principal and teacher at Rogers and had also begun his officiating career,” Dino Paganelli said. “Rogers was a great place and very supportive of Perry, so I was drawn back there for that and other reasons, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Dino Paganelli is quick to point out that both Perry and his brother Carl Jr. are also NFL officials and GRCC alumni. Both also were student-athletes at GRCC, competing in football and baseball, and all four Paganellis were inducted in 2018 into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame.

GRCC in 2013 dedicated the foyer of the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse to the Paganelli family. The Paganelli Family Scholarship annually awards $1,000 to a GRCC student-athlete.

“GRCC has been an important part of the lives of the whole Paganelli family,” Dino Paganelli said. “That’s one of the reasons we provide scholarships today. It’s because of what Grand Rapids Community College has done for us. It’s had an amazing impact on our lives.”

This story was reported by Phil de Haan.

Danyel Bibbs’ last-second shot gives men’s basketball team victory over Alpena Community College

Danyel Bibbs bouncing a basketball in a game.

Danyel Bibbs hit a game-winning shot with one second remaining to help the Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team complete a season sweep over Alpena Community College on Saturday.

GRCC’s men’s team defeated the Lumberjacks 81-79, and the women’s basketball team upended the home team, 72-39.

Davarion Mitchell, who finished with a game-high 32 points, put Alpena up 77-75 with 41 seconds to go. Chris Coleman tied it back up with 27.1 seconds to go.

But after an unexpected Raider foul on the inbound, Alpena’s Ianson Simpson went to the line to put his team back up two points.

On the ensuing GRCC possession, Bashir Neely missed a layup, but Coleman was there to tip in the rebound with 21 seconds left, tying the game up for the ninth time.

Alpena’s Gavin Dukaji missed a three-point shot with eight seconds remaining but Brockton Kohler snagged the rebound and quickly passed it to Bibbs, who raced down the court for the game-winning layup.

“What a fun way to get a road win,” head coach Joe Fox said. “It was an absolute battle back and forth, and while we didn’t execute as well as we would’ve liked, we did play with effort all night long. Three games in four days is tough, but I thought our depth really helped us today. Our sophomores really helped carry us through today, especially Bibbs on that last bucket. Jordan Houser really helped turn the game with his energy defensively as well.”

Bibbs led six GRCC players who finished in double figures with 21 points and six rebounds.  Isaac Warning had the lone double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

After the Raiders third win in four days, the team improved to 18-7 overall and stayed in third place in the league with a 6-5 record.

GRCC’s women’s team scored the first 20 points of its game and never looked back, claiming a dominating 72-39 victory.

The win kept the Raiders in second place in the league with an 8-3 record.  They are also 14-7 overall, winners of six of their last seven.

“Thought our effort and focus was great from the opening tip,” head coach David Glazier said.  “Felt our kids once again showed real professionalism in how they handled a second straight weekend of being out of town a night before our game.”

Sally Merrill, the reigning national and conference player of the week, led all scorers with 20 points.

Marlene Bussler added 17 points and four assists and Grace Lodes finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Both teams return home on Feb. 22 to take on Delta College.  The women tip off at 5:30 p.m.  

This story was reported by Ben Brown.

Deadline approaching: Over $1,000,000 in scholarships available to students from the GRCC Foundation

Student interacting with Kristi Welling.

The priority deadline is approaching quickly, and students get busy, so please remind and encourage the students you teach and support to complete the GRCC Scholarship application.

They can fill out a single application to be considered for over three hundred scholarships!

These scholarships can provide them with free money to help cover 2023-24 GRCC tuition, books and fees. 

Students should apply for GRCC scholarships on our  Scholarships webpage.

The priority deadline is March 15, 2023. In order to maximize scholarship opportunities, students should also complete a 2023-24  FAFSA.

Dean of Business & Industry candidate presentations on Feb. 21 & 22

The Dean of Business & Industry screening committee invites the campus community to attend the candidate presentations.

The presentations are available in-person and virtually.

We encourage anyone who can attend in person to join us in ATC 168 (Auditorium). 

Candidate 1: Tuesday, February 21 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. or live streamed

Candidate 2: Wednesday, February 22 from 11 a.m. to noon or live streamed

Caring for yourself when there’s traumatic news

Your Employee Assistance Program- is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Did you know? Your Employee Assistance Program is available 24/7, is CONFIDENTIAL and available to all employees (except student employees), their spouses and children living in their household.

We encourage all employees to take advantage of these services offered. EAPs deal with a variety of issues such as depression, anger management, anxiety and physical illness.

All EAP consultations and referrals are CONFIDENTIAL and the services are provided at no cost. You can access EAP services 24-hours, 7 day-a-week the hotline number is (800) 442-0809 or (616) 455-6210.

Pine Rest Resources:

EAP – A Guide to Your Benefits


Versiti is back at GRCC on Wednesday, March 22

Did you know that even though approximately 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood, less than 5% actually do? Every day, patients in our communities need red blood cells, platelets and plasma to keep them feeling healthy and strong. 

The blood you donate today ensures there is enough for tomorrow. One pint of your blood could be used to save three lives in the local community.

Have an hour to spare? Collection only takes about 10 minutes, and you can save time by pre-registering online! After registration and collection, you get to sit back and relax with some snacks and activities!

Other perks include:

  • a $10 e-gift card
  • a free parking pass
  • a Noodles and Company gift card for buy-one-get-one noodles. Yum!
  • learn your blood type
  • check off an item on your bucket list!

Help us reach our donation goal!

Schedule an appointment online or reach out to Rebecca Lubbers at rebeccalubbers1@grcc.edu for more information.

GRCC Spring Open Houses – Lakeshore and Main Campus

Lakeshore Campus Spring Open House

Saturday, April 15
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Lakeshore Campus
Sign up to attend here

Main Campus Spring Open House

Saturday, April 22
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse
Sign up to attend here

For those who are new to these events, this is when GRCC invites prospective students, their families and community members to visit our campus to engage our faculty and staff, learn about us and tour our campus. Historically, it is a well attended event and a great opportunity for you to showcase your areas and for future students to learn about the opportunities we have to offer. During the open house students get to:

  • Connect with faculty and staff at the resource fair
  • Tour our campus with our student ambassadors
  • Check out presentations from admissions, financial aid and scholarships, promise zone, and academic advising and transfer center
  • Receive GRCC swag and refreshments

If you have any questions, please contact Lori Cook (lcook@grcc.edu) or Francisco Ramirez (framirez@grcc.edu).

Thank you! We hope we see you there!