Ward website image

Spartanburg Methodist College presents SGA Founder’s Day Faculty Award to Professor Barry Ward

The Spartanburg Methodist College Student Government Association presented Professor Barry Ward with a Founder’s Day Faculty Award on Thursday, October 23 during the college’s annual Founder’s Day Celebration, which featured guest speaker NY Mets Hall of Famer, and SMC alumni, Mookie Wilson.

The 2014 inaugural award was presented to a faculty member who represents and embodies the spirit and vision of Dr. David English Camak, a visionary Methodist minister. SGA President, Adell Gordon, shared “the recipient of this award is one who is not afraid to try new things, puts the needs of students first, and is respected in their profession and by the student body.”

A 1979 graduate of SMC, Ward majored in Criminal Justice and earned an Associate in Arts. He continued his studies at the University of South Carolina, earning a Bachelor of Science, and his Master of Arts from Gardner Webb University, as well as pursuing additional graduate work at Lander University and Winthrop University.

Ward returned to SMC as an employee in March of 1987 and over the years has held positions as Security Guard, Director of Intramurals, Director of the Student Center, Director of Men’s Housing, Director of College Work Study, Cross Country Coach and Professor of Health & PE. He has long believed in the merits of the extended-learning-classroom concept. He teaches by day, and in the evening shares his time and talents coaching intramural sports and each January he chaperones a ski excursion for students.

“Have you had a kindness shown? Pass it on; ‘Twas not given for thee alone, Pass it on; Let it travel down the years, Let it wipe another’s tears, ‘Til in Heaven the deed appears – Pass it on. ” Although Dr. Henry Burton, Clergyman and Writer, is credited for this hymn/quote, Professor Ward has lived these words this entire life.

College life has been and is good for many SMC students thanks to the kindness of this gentle man who never forgot the kindness shown to him as a child. For you see this professor grew up in the loving arms of the Epworth Children’s Home. Kindness is all he has ever known and he passes it on daily…with jokes, fist pumps, poetry and a perpetually perky persona.

Ward once shared that he was blessed to call Epworth home, “I was fortunate to be able to draw upon my experiences at Epworth and build upon that foundation to motivate me academically and professionally. Without Epworth and SMC I probably wouldn’t be as confident, prepared and excited about life as I am,” said the 60 year-old, who is known to cartwheel and do backflips spontaneously down the halls of the Walker Building where he teaches.

Ward was also selected by his peers at SMC as the recipient of the 2010-2011 SCICU Excellence in Teaching Award and used the award stipend to expand his knowledge of health issues and shared that new knowledge with his students. A quote from his nominating materials reads “He creates an atmosphere where students learn life-saving and life-long lessons.”

Daniel Foster

Gaffney High graduation coach is the ‘real deal’

By Lynne P. Shackleford
lynne.shackleford@shj.com
Published: Monday, October 20, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 20, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.

Photo:  Daniel Foster, a graduation coach at Gaffney High School, right, talks with Isaac Polanco, 15, a student at the school, on Wednesday between classes. MICHAEL JUSTUS/michael.justus@shj.com

Gaffney High School graduation coach Daniel Foster gives students two things many of them have never had: encouragement and hope.

“When I look at them, I see me,” Foster said. “I’ve been where they are. Some of them don’t think they can get a diploma. Some don’t have support at home. Some have just made a bad grade in core class, and they’re off track, but somewhere along the way, they have to get hope back.”

Fresh out of high school 20 years ago, Foster was working with a plumbing crew when the company’s owner asked him about his future plans.

Foster had just graduated from Gaffney High School and wasn’t interested in college; he just wanted to work. The company’s owner, the late Gene Wilson, then drove Foster around rural communities — Corinth, Goucher and Blacksburg — before stopping the car.

“He asked me which community I liked best, and I didn’t know where he was coming from,” Foster said. “But he told me that if I didn’t make something of myself that I would never go anywhere else — I wouldn’t even have the option of going anywhere else — and that hit home to me.”

Wilson then drove Foster to Spartanburg Methodist College and helped him enroll in a two-year program.

“That man did more for me that day because I saw that someone else saw my potential,” Foster said. “I understood then that I could be something.”

After visiting six countries during his 11 years in the Army, Foster returned home and started working as a long-term substitute at Gaffney High School before becoming the in-school suspension coordinator. He is now the school’s first graduation coach, and is tasked with coaching and mentoring at-risk students, mostly those who repeated ninth-grade and other students he calls “geographically displaced seniors.” The latter are students who should be seniors, but failed English or math classes so they are in 11th grade homerooms.

Gaffney High Principal Rashaad Fitzpatrick said the graduation coach position was created based on best practices from the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University. The center recommends using a holistic approach with individualized success plans for at-risk students and having a facilitator, or coach, monitoring students.

“Mr. Foster was a good fit because he had already built relationships with some students as the (in-school suspension) supervisor last year,” Fitzpatrick said. “He is one of those people who understands what we’re trying to accomplish and goes the extra mile to make it happen.”

Foster said he has no doubt the school’s graduation rate of 78 percent, just below the state average, will rise this year just out of will and determination. His goal is a graduation rate of 80 percent this year.

“We’re going to show everyone that we can do it,” Foster said. “No doubt in my mind that the rate will go up this year. When you lay it out for them, show them a path to success, they’ll make it.”

At the beginning of the year, Foster was assigned to 138 students at Gaffney High and the alternative school and mapped out an individualized plan for each. He meets with each of them at least twice a week and attends classes with them periodically to monitor how they take notes and to hear their concerns. Foster refers them to tutors or peer study groups and contacts their teachers to monitor progress.

If they are chronically absent, Foster and another district staffer go to their houses to find out what issues they are facing.

“Mr. Foster is stepping in as a counselor, a father, a big brother. Somewhere they’re not getting the guidance or love they need, and he’s the boots on the ground, so to speak,” said in-school suspension supervisor Tierney Rollins, who works closely with Foster. “He knows them, remembers what their goals are; he works really hard… His goal is to help them realize that ‘I can do this, and life will be different.’”

Rollins said Foster is an “encourager at every turn.”

“If we have a student who has a behavior issue, Mr. Foster finds the core issue behind the behavioral problem,” Rollins said. “He shows them discipline and love and tells them they can learn from their mistakes, and what he’s telling them comes from his heart.”

Jamie Brown, who teaches Algebra II, said students take Foster’s advice and motivation to heart.

“When he walks in the classroom, I see the faces of the students he’s trying to help,” Brown said. “They know Mr. Foster provides accountability. They know he’s watching them, and they want to take better notes. They want to listen and do the work.”

Brown said one student was a few credits off-track and was coming to class unprepared. After being referred to Foster, the student came to Brown’s class the following day with class work he had missed, prepared to take notes.

“I was shocked,” Brown said. “The parents are involved now. Mr. Foster makes it click for these students.”

Foster said all students want to succeed, but they’ve lost faith and drive somewhere along the way.

“I’ve lived their life,” Foster said. “When I was in middle school and high school, no one forced me to study.”

Isaac Polanco, 15, should be a sophomore, but is repeating ninth grade because he failed algebra with a 68 — two points shy of a D. Polanco, one of Foster’s students, has an 86 in geometry so far this semester, and he’s on track to become a sophomore in December.

“Mr. Foster is the real deal,” Polanco said. “He knows what’s going on with us because he cares enough to ask. He wants us to make it. I’m proud of the grades I’m making now, and I will get back on track, but it would’ve been a lot harder without him.”

Donna Phillips, guidance director, said just nine weeks into the school year, she’s already seen students who are making progress.  “I see they’re more motivated; they have direction,” Phillips said. “We’re so fortunate to have him. He’s pushing the kids to succeed.”

 

social media

#SocialMedia – the Future of Teaching and Learning – Friday, October 31 at 11 a.m.

#SocialMedia – the Future of Teaching and Learning will be presented at Spartanburg Methodist College in the Buchheit Board Room on Friday, October 31. Dr. Brian Gloor, SMC Professor of Chemistry, will present an encore program he recently gave in Denver, CO at the Teaching Professor Technology Conference. SMC faculty and Spartanburg District 7 representatives will be in attendance and are reminded to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to the 11 am program.

Gloor will focus on both “the why not” and “the how to” concepts of extending the learning experience beyond the set classroom. “With all of the new ‘smart phones’ on the market today and an increasing number of people using them on a daily basis, why not use the technology provided by Apple and Android to an instructor’s advantage? If we take it a step further and utilize the networks our students are using, will that make them more engaged with the topics being taught in class? Personal experience would tell any teacher or faculty member that the time spent in the classroom is not enough time to cover everything that we need to cover in the span of a semester, let alone in the span of a day. So how can we impact the classroom experience and engage our students by extending the classroom time outside of the actual classroom?” asks Gloor.

Two theoretical foundations guide Gloor’s presentation, the connected learning theory and the extended learning theory, both of which are hot topics in educational technology dialogue. Connected learning is based on utilizing the power of today’s technologies to spark students’ interest, friendship and academic engagement through hands-on production, shared purpose and open networks. Connected learning capitalizes on learning being social and participatory and leverages the personal and individual interests of the students. Extended learning, viewed as the main argument in the use of social media for academic contexts, occurs when an instructor creates a social media presence for the classroom. No longer is the teaching engagement time restrained to a face-to-face meeting, but through social media, students and teachers can share their work and connect anytime/anywhere.

Practical tools and hands-on demonstrations on how faculty can immediately leverage and implement social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, social bookmarking) in the classroom will be shared. Attendees will see firsthand how easily even the most social-media-novice-instructor can engage students in a professional and academic environment outside of the classroom with a connected learning experience.

homecoming logo

HOMECOMING/ALUMNI WEEKEND 2014 NOVEMBER 14-15

homecoming logo

Celebrate being a SMC Pioneer at Homecoming/Alumni Weekend 2014. This year there will be many on-campus events for the entire family to enjoy. SMC Homecoming/Alumni Weekend is the perfect time to reconnect with classmates, reminisce about your days at SMC, and celebrate your love for your alma mater. We will offer casual events to encourage alumni and family attendance. There will be fun events for everyone to enjoy throughout the day. Please note that the Alumni Awards Luncheon (formally a formal luncheon) will be casual and include picnic favorites. The picnic-style lunch will be held indoors, so don’t worry about the weather. You are welcome to dress causal so you can enjoy the on-campus events that will be offered the remainder of the day. Please make plans to attend – this is a weekend you don’t want to miss.

Friday, November 14th
7:00 – 8:00pm Womanless Beauty Pageant Ellis Hall, SMC Campus
8:00 – 10:00pm Alumni & Friends Decade Party Buffalo Wild Wings Patio, 1494 W O Ezell Blvd, Spartanburg, SC 29301

Saturday, November 15th
10:30-11:30am Registration & Silent Auction Fireplace Room, Burgess Student Center
11:30am-12:30pm *Alumni Awards Picnic Style Luncheon Fireplace Room, Burgess Student Center ($15 per person)
*(Casual Attire Welcome at the Alumni Awards Picnic Style Luncheon)
1:00 – 2:00pm Campus Tours and Class Reunions Various Campus Locations
1:00 – 5:00pm Family Fun Festivities Various Campus Locations
(Tethered Hot Air Balloon Rides, Mason Jar Decorating, Scavenger Hunt)
4:00pm Women’s Basketball Game Bridges Arena
6:00pm Men’s Basketball Game Bridges Arena
8:00pm Karaoke Sing-Off Ellis Hall, SMC Campus

For more information and to RSVP please contact
Becky Snow at SnowB@smcsc.edu or 864-587-4210.