Four Practices Every Teacher Should Implement into their Classroom

Shannon Foley

There are so many theories out there when it comes to increasing student interest. When I began my journey as a teacher-to-be in 2015, I never knew just how many opinions existed. I had this romantic notion that students flowed into the classroom each morning with sparkling eyes and a thirst for learning− apples included.
Tell me, when was the last time this happened in your classroom?

Teaching theories exist because there is no right or wrong way to engage students. However, some practices have been proven to be more effective than others. In this article, I will guide you through four practices I swear by to increase your students’ participation and interest, no matter which grade you teach.

1. Start each day with a morning meeting
Morning meetings are common in early elementary classrooms but rarely exist in middle and high school classrooms. This is often due to time restraints. But a good morning meeting doesn’t have to be time-extensive. If you are a middle or high school teacher, take five minutes to connect with your students before announcements. Make a circle and hold hands. Greet each of your students like they are your equals, as if you have all the time in the world. During your morning meeting, you can read your students a quote and ask for feedback, pass around an object as students greet one another (i.e., “Good morning/Aloha/Bonjour, Shannon!”), or guide students to pair up with a partner and have a conversation (What is Morning). For some of your students, this is the first time of the day they are acknowledged by another person. Make this time meaningful for them.

2. Include SEL practices in every lesson
We have become a society that values academic intelligence over emotional intelligence. Think about it: the ultimate insult in a work or school environment is, “What, are you stupid?” Academic intelligence is only a fraction of our competence. In Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Goleman suggests that social and emotional learning (SEL) teaches us the skills you cannot find in a textbook. He says, “It’s a different way of being smart” (Elias). There are five SEL competencies that can be addressed in the classroom, including self-awareness, self- management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Instead of teaching a separate lesson that goes something like “What is Empathy?,” integrate empathetic qualities into the general curriculum. For example, assessing threats to an ecosystem from the perspective of the animals living there is one way to add empathy to a science lesson.

3. Let students help to create rubrics

Rarely do students get a say in how they are graded. Traditionally, the criterion of authentic assessments is kept under lock and key, viewed only by the teacher. The problem with this type of assessment is that students do not know how they are graded, so they do not understand why they are given a certain grade. Next time you create an authentic assessment (think papers, portfolios, presentations, etc.), switch things up by asking students what they think should be included on the rubric. Discuss the differences between good and poor quality work and how to avoid creating poor quality work. Identify your criteria and ask for student feedback. Then, create a “draft rubric” based on student responses during the discussion (Andrade). Bring the draft into class and ask for comments from the students. Revise if needed. By allowing students to have a say in how they are graded, they are more likely to deliver work of the highest quality. The criteria now matters to them.

4. End each day with a read-aloud
If you have ever been read Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon as a child, you understand the beauty of ending a long day with a story. By the end of a school day, students are likely to be tired and in need of a treat. Also consider that some students have never been read to as children. Feed them poetic language by reading to them for the last five to ten minutes of the day. Make this fun by letting students sprawl across the floor or curl up on any cozy furniture you have in your classroom. Consider investing in fairy lights to add warmth to the environment. Choose a book that has depth and will interest students on a personal level. A great option for elementary and middle school students is Wonder by R. J. Palacio. According to Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, “literature...brings us closest to the human heart” (Trelease 45).

As educators, I think we can all agree that it is impossible to bring too much of your heart into your teaching. I hope this post helps you implement effective practices into your classroom, and that your students enjoy them as much as I do.

Written by Shannon Foley


Andrade, Heidi Goodrich. “Using Rubrics to Promote Thinking and Learning.” Educational Leadership, Feb 2000, Accessed 05 Nov 2018. Elias, Maurice J., Joseph E. Zins, Roger P. Weissberg, Karin S. Frey, Mark T. Greenberg, Norris M. Haynes, Rachael Kessler, Mary E. Schwab-Stone, and Timothy P. Shriver. “Promoting Social and Emotional Learning.” ASCD,  Accessed 05 Nov 2018. Trelease, Jim. The Read-Aloud Handbook. New York, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2013. “What is Morning Meeting?” Responsive Classroom, 07 Jun 2016, Accessed 05 Nov 2018.

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Anna Maria Music Therapy Students Present at Passages Conference

Passages Group Picture 2018
On Saturday, October 27th, twenty music therapy students attended the Passages Conference at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Passages - Student & New Professional Music Therapy Conference is an annual, one-day conference sponsored by the New England Region of the American Music Therapy Association Students (NER-AMTAS). NER-AMTAS is composed of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) student members from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont currently enrolled in AMTA-accredited Music Therapy programs. The purpose of the NER-AMTAS organization is to advance the aims, purposes, and goals of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and the New England Region-American Music Therapy Association (NER-AMTA) within a student organization. The Passages conference is for all music therapists, and features presentations by students and music therapists in their first few years of practice. This year, the conference invited student professionals, specifically, medical colleagues from neighboring schools to attend the conference. NER-AMTAS believes that this advocacy can inform their colleagues on how they can work with each other to serve their clients in the near future. Several Anna Maria students and alumni gave presentations including:


Kayla McBrien (Senior) presented Music Therapy, Leadership and the Quest for Balance. This presentation explores the territory outside our respective comfort zones through two creative tasks. These group experiences will allow space for us to identify the roles we tend to play in groups, as well as how we can utilize our strengths and find support for our limitations to achieve balance in group settings and within ourselves.


Katelyn Sable (Junior) teamed up with Anna Maria alumni Cacia King and Mary Reinsch to give their Music Therapists’ Perspective on Adam’s Camp New England. Adam’s Camp New England is a non-profit organization that provides intensive therapeutic programs and integrated recreational activities for children and young adults with special needs, and support programs for their families. We bring 3 different perspectives on Adam’s Camp to this presentation, one of returning therapist, a new professional, and a student volunteer. We will explore what interdisciplinary work is like for a music therapist, including the challenges that can occur and the importance of advocacy.


Sonya DiPietro (Junior) presented In Tune with our Senses: The Psychological Basis of Music Therapy. This presentation explores key facets of music therapy that set it apart from other treatment methods. We see music touch people every day, whether it be while singing our favorite song in the car, getting the chills at a concert, or witnessing a pre-verbal client sing for the first time. Information in this presentation will examine just how music touches human beings, and why it plays such a critical role in therapy and lifestyle.


Liz Hastings (Junior) focused on student self-care in a discussion forum, Singing Off Key as part of Learning the Song. This presentation explores the music therapist’s personal relationship to voice, self-care, personal identity, and how that affects our professionalism. The typical stigma around therapists is that we are emotionally invincible. However, it is okay not to be okay. Discussion topics will include strategies for self-care, advocacy, and professionalism.

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Anna Maria junior Mike Rapoza rules boards, connects from the field

Mike Rapoza
When his playing days are done, Anna Maria junior Mike Rapoza is looking forward to a career as a high school teacher and coach, and his AmCats coach, Shawn Conrad, thinks Rapoza will be great at both.
Rapoza, the former Shepherd Hill Regional star from Charlton, has been working with kids for about four years and coaching AAU basketball for the Central Mass. Swarm. At Anna Maria, where Rapoza has been a dominant big man the last two years, he’s kind of like an additional member of Conrad’s staff. “It really is like having a coach on the floor,” Conrad said. “He anticipates everything that’s going to happen. He’s not a reactor; he’s an anticipator. While he’s playing, he sees through a coaching lens almost.”

After practice or a game, Rapoza will spend time with his teammates, then join the coaches to go over and break down what just happened. “He gives a lot of insight,” Conrad said. During Rapoza’s freshman season, when he averaged 17.1 points and 12.7 rebounds, beat double teams on a nightly basis and earned GNAC Rookie of the Year honors, Conrad projected that Rapoza could become one of the best players in Anna Maria history. Conrad’s prediction seems to be right on. As a sophomore, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Rapoza continued his rise. He averaged 18.1 points and 14.1 rebounds while leading the conference in field goal percentage (63.2 percent) and being named GNAC Defensive Player of the Year. He posted 22 double-doubles. The AMCats finished 10-16 in 2017-18, but with added depth and, of course, the return of Rapoza, the team has higher expectations this season. “We have the right mentality,” Rapoza said. “We come to work every day in practice. We may not be the most talented team in the conference, but we can be the hardest working, and if we can do that and each of us works on our individual role and succeeds at that, we should be good.” In the age of the 3-pointer, Anna Maria instead has built its offense around Rapoza. “The furthest shot he will ever take here is a free throw,” Conrad said. “He doesn’t care about taking anything outside five feet from the basket. The 3-point line doesn’t even exist in his mind. He is a true, old-fashioned low post player. Before they put in the 3-point line, those were the guys you had true appreciation for. “We’ve created our style because of him. We are an inside-out team. He’s so good with his body, sealing people, and just knowing what his strength is and never going away from his strength.” Rapoza gets to the free throw line a lot, and improving there is one of his goals for the season.

“Definitely,” said Rapoza, who is a 67.5 percent career free-throw shooter. “I have to get my percentage up. I would love to convert more from there.”

Rapoza begins each practice with 50 free throws and finishes the same way. Rapoza made NCAA Division 3 history last season when he made 26 straight field goals over three games. Included was an 18-for-18 effort in a win over Mount Ida. “I knew I was having a pretty good game,” Rapoza said, “but I didn’t realize I hadn’t missed a shot until I looked at the box score after the game and one of my assistant coaches told me. I really couldn’t believe it. “At the time,” Rapoza added, “I didn’t realize how tough that would be to repeat (the 26 consecutive made shots). Looking back on it now, I can’t even imagine how I did that. As a team, we won all three of those games. It happened at the right time. We all clicked, and my shots just happened to fall.” In high school, Rapoza led Shepherd Hill to the 2015 Clark Tournament Large Schools championship. The Rams advanced to the Western Mass. Division 2 final his sophomore season. At every level, coaches have always praised Rapoza’s work ethic. “I always had coaches that made that the emphasis,” Rapoza said. “Coach Conrad is all about effort. He matches my intensity. It’s the perfect fit. I couldn’t ask for a better coach.” Rapoza passed seven advanced placement exams in high school and is way ahead in his secondary education studies at Anna Maria. AMC director of athletics Serge DeBari, the former longtime men’s basketball coach at Assumption and Babson, has been around sports his whole life and has 40 years of experience as a coach and college administrator. He calls Rapoza one of the most impressive human beings he has ever met. “He’s a gem,” Conrad agreed. “He’s a special, special kid,” Conrad said. “He’s always smiling, always upbeat, always positive. He’s a great sportsman.” Article Written by Jennifer Toland from the Telegram & Gazette Staff

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Alum Michael R. Molla Installed as President of Pennsylvania College of Art & Design

Michael Molla Image
Michael MoNa, Vice President Strategic Initiatives at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) has been selected by the Board of Trustees as the next President of Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, according to Robert Brandt, Chair of the PCA&D Board of Trustees. He is expected to take the helm of the College on July 1, 2018, replacing retiring President Mary Colleen HeiI.

Michael R. Molla. the third President of Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, has always used his creativity to make sense of the world. As a youth. he spent his time thinking, making. and make-believing. His imagination has served him well, leading him to seek creative connection and push for greater possibilities. Molla knows the value of micro-colleges like PCA&D, small. focused, personal collcgcs that emphasize individual students needs, active learning, and mentorship. His Alma Mater, Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts. was such a college. It profoundly shapcd his own creative arts education. He credits his success to his family and his partner, Brad, who embrace his creative view of life. Molla gives special acknowledgement to his art department chairperson Ralph Parente and Dean of Students Hollie Ingraham, who were his mentors and advisers. Mr. Parente, now in his 90s. continues to serve as a touchstone and inspiration to Molla. Molla also recognizes the value of artists and designers in leading and shaping their worN. Molla scrved at Maryland Institute Collegc of Art for 26 ycars, leading the College in the areas of student affairs, operations, and strategic initiatives. As the Associate Vice President, Student Affairs, he launched MICA’s first residence life program. lie also established a studcnt affairs division for the College, which included on-site counseling and healthcare services, as well as diversity and safety initiatives. As Vice President of Operations, Molla was responsible for the development of the Campus Master Plan, including the design and construction of residential facilities. numerous academic, studio, and shop spaces., a ccnter for graduate education and most recently. an undergraduate design center. As Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Molla was responsible for strcngthcning the relationship between MICA and the City of Baltimore, including facilitating new urban initiatives to engage the community in support of the arts and expanding opportunities to city residents. Molla set a goal for himself as soon as he arrived on campus: to meet, learn fi’om. and meaningfully interact with 100 people in 100 days: community leaders, students, parents, business leaders, college presidents, artists, designers, and Laneastrians from all walks of life. This was a tall order, on top of opening the 2018-19 school year. learning his way about the campus and the town, and moving to Lancaster. This effort has given him the broadest perspective and foundation on which to begin his tenure. Molla is excited about the contributions and collaborations possible with an arts college nestled in the heart of a creative city like Lancaster. He looks forward to this new future, together.

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Anna Maria College program provides music education to Worcester students

Keyboard Lab
It’s an unusually hot day, but Christmas songs are reverberating inside Miriam Hall at Anna Maria College in the late afternoon this past Wednesday.
With nothing more than a mention of its name by instructor Alexis Phillips, her eight students break out into a choral rendition of “A Marshmallow World” – one of the songs they’re planning to perform at their upcoming December recital. While the sound of music is nothing unusual at Miriam, where the college’s music department is located, to hear children’s voices is something new. For some of the kids, meanwhile, “it’s the first time they’ve sung” in a choir, said Melissa Martiros, Anna Maria’s director of music. Ms. Martiros, who joined the college, located just next door to her hometown of Spencer, last year, is the main architect behind the new OpporTUNEity program, which brings students from Worcester’s Lincoln Street School to campus each Wednesday this fall to receive musical instruction from Anna Maria students. The former program coordinator of music at Martin Methodist College in Tennessee, Ms. Martiros started the after-school program in that southern state five years ago, and hopes to show it can be just as mutually beneficial for Anna Maria and Worcester students here as well. "I want to see this first cohort of kids go to college,” she said. “I want to see them become well-rounded musicians.”

The basic premise of OpporTUNEity is to provide musical education to students who normally might not get the opportunity. While Lincoln Street, which has one of the highest percentages of economically disadvantaged students in the city, does offer music lessons and classes, it doesn’t have the resources for extracurricular instruction like the kind Anna Maria can provide. When she originally contacted the district’s performing arts liaison, Lisa Leach, to make her proposal last year, Ms. Martiros said Ms. Leach steered her toward working with Lincoln Street for that reason. “The majority of these kids, they don’t even think about taking the lessons, because you have to get your own instruments,” said Kathy Stevens, an instructional assistant at the school and mother of two kids currently involved in the OpporTUNEity program. The school also doesn’t have any after-school musical programming.

At Anna Maria, participating students – there were around 25 signed up as of this past Wednesday, according to Ms. Martiros – cycle between three classrooms, where they learn choral singing, piano, and take part in music therapy, all under the direction of the college’s music students. In a classroom led by Abby Warren, Katelyn Sable and Liz Hastings – all junior music therapy majors – for instance, students started their session banging on drums and shaking maracas in a circle, and then transitioned into a sing-along of “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.” “It’s just calming – it makes me feel like I’m at a camp site,” said sixth-grader Rushel Volcy, who added music therapy was her favorite class in the program. Music in general “brings me joy,” said Rushel, who is also learning the violin – “without music, there wouldn’t be a world for me.” Despite most of the kids’ lack of formal training, “they pick things up quickly,” Ms. Hastings said. “They’re very in tune with how music’s structured.” Article written by Scott O’Connell from the Telegram & Gazette.
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Anna Maria tops Central Mass. colleges for gender leadership

Anna Maria College in Paxton tops Central Massachusetts colleges when it comes to gender parity, according to a new report weighing how equally women were represented in the president's office and among leadership positions. MRL on Porch2


Anna Maria ranked No. 8 in the state among 93 studied by the Eos Foundation, a Cape Cod private foundation for investing in children. Anna Maria has been led by President Mary Lou Retelle since 2015. Nine of its 21 trustees are women. Anna Maria scored well for its senior leadership and the percentage of its students who are female, which is 58 percent, according to the report, which was issued last week. Story by Grant Welker of the Worcester Business Journal:


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OpporTUNEity at Anna Maria College

Congratulations to our Music Education and Music Therapy majors involved with the successful launch of OpporTUNEity! A program created by our Director of Music, Dr. Melissa Martiros, OpporTUNEity matches children from underserved communities with college undergraduate music majors for enriching teaching and learning experiences. Every Wednesday, 30 children from Lincoln St. School in Worcester will be bused to campus for group piano, singing, and improvisation classes led by our undergraduate music majors. This program will run for the duration of the 2018-2019 academic year.   Keyboard Lab 2

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New England Sculpture at Anna Maria College

Space Image Art

The Department of Art & Design at Anna Maria College announces New England Sculpture an installment of four public works on the Paxton, MA campus. The exhibition continues the example set during the previous academic year, which featured collaboration between the College and Art in the Park, Worcester. Exhibiting artists are from Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and feature Saturn by James Kitchen, Metro by Phil Marshall, Nigella Damascena (Love in a Mist) by Shawn Farrell, and Watersports by John Weidman. This academic year, Anna Maria College seeks to galvanize the role of public art on campus. A spacious venue known for its natural beauty, the display becomes a highlight of the visual landscape. This exhibit proposes to explore the potential energy contained in the sculptural form. Each has distinctive characteristics that lend to the seasonal calendar of Central Massachusetts: on snowy surfaces, in rusty fall colors, and throughout verdant spring, morning mist and lively sunshine mark the intervals and testament of their quotidian presence.  College leadership in collaboration with the Department of Art & Design seek to provide campus and community with occasions to interact more intimately with the work, enriching daily life and deepening the beholders’ relationship to the art and surrounding space. The public, students, and staff are invited to explore and enjoy these sculptures throughout the academic year. Join Anna Maria College as various programs, and sculpture walks celebrate this new partnership. Materials and information about the sculptures are available by visiting the Office of Admissions or the Art Center in Miriam Hall. Contact David Wackell for details at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Emergency Leadership at Anna Maria College

Emergency Leadership
When considering our Bachelor of Science in Emergency Leadership, we often find potential students wrestling with the utility of the degree. Why study leadership? Why study it with you? Isn’t leadership a natural skill, one that you either have or don’t and thus can’t be taught? We’re quick to debunk such notions, of course. Leadership can be taught and leaders can be developed, and we’re here to help make that happen.
But the fact remains, few ideas receive as much attention resulting in as little true understanding as the concept of leadership. Leadership is the foundational principle upon which all traditional, paramilitary-style emergency services in the US are built. It’s importance at all levels of organization can’t be overstated. It’s wielded both in official and unofficial capacities, and despite numerous attempts, both scholarly and vocationally, remains a nebulous and ill-defined principle that is as important as it is mystifying. Whole fields of academic study have wrangled with the idea of what leadership is, but I think it’s important as well to consider what it’s not. While the study of leadership is a vast undertaking, I think there are three things leadership universally is not: Homogenous. There is no single definition of good leadership because the word means different things in different situations. The leadership required on the fire ground, or a crime scene, or at a cardiac arrest, is a far different animal from the kind of leadership required in the board room or before a city council or local governmental authority. Leaders who adopt a one-size-fits-all mentality are bound to fail sizable constituencies of personnel and the public. Flexibility, empathy, and a growth mindset are some of the most important skillsets emergency leaders need in order to succeed. Static. While the core principles of good leadership haven’t changed in hundreds of years, in today’s emergency services landscape the mechanics of leadership are as fluid a dynamic as any other societal component. What works managing providers from Generation X is far different from what it takes to engage and lead Millenials. This isn’t to say that one demographic is better or worse than the other (and I question the utility of putting too much weight on the pop psychology that underpins so much of our “understanding” of the sociological framework that brought us the concept of Gen X and Millennial in the first place), but it does recognize that, much as we admonish students today to be lifelong learners, the same is even truer of leaders. Evolution doesn’t stop for anyone, so the leader who sets his or her style in concrete and refuses to learn and adapt, is guaranteed to alienate, or at least fail to lead effectively, at least half the people in their charge Valued. There. I said it. True leadership – which is distinctly different then management – is in short supply in today’s emergency services. I think the causes are rooted in vast bureaucracies led by insufficiently trained and capable personnel, who that chosen as their crutch the collection of vast amounts of data and metrics. Data is only as good as the use to which it is put, and today’s emergency leaders by and large do not understand what to do with the terabytes of data they collect, and they have even weaker understanding of the soft skills (those traits that are impossible to quantify and, thus, frightening to many leaders in the field) necessary to lead high-performance teams of men and women putting their lives on the line in some of the toughest jobs in America today. Combine that with the need for leaders to also play the political game in an environment where money and resources to accomplish their service’s mission can be scarce and tough to secure, true leadership requires a complex mix of art and science that few people possess naturally. Organized, purposeful study of leadership is the best way toward restoring its place in the emergency services. The 21st century is shaping up to be the product not simply of change, but of historically rapid change. The pace of evolution in business and commerce is one of unparalleled speed and complexity. Emergency services will feel the effects of this light-speed innovation and disruption in the near and far future, and the consequences of having leaders in the field who haven’t learned how to match this evolution will be dire. Technology is wondrous, but far more important are the men and women called upon to put it to use serving the public. Since 1995, Ted Flanagan, MFA, NRP, has worked in urban 911 and the fire service, and as a flight paramedic. He teaches in the BS in Emergency Leadership and EMS Programs at Anna Maria College. Written by Ted Flanagan

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Teens from China learn art at Anna Maria College

Teens from China learn art at Anna Maria College
For 23 young adults from a school in Suzhou, China, Anna Maria College in Paxton became home for a week as they immersed themselves in art and English classes.

As part of a first-ever program through the Northborough-based language school, Global Connect Forum (GCF), this group of students traveled halfway around the world to improve their English language skills with teachers from GCF and to learn drawing, photography and graphic design from two professors at AMC.

“People are good at explaining themselves in the art classes, so we can ask them to use their English language skills and maybe even have them learn some new words,” Wackell said.David Wackell, professor of art at AMC and one of the two professors working with the students who studied abroad the second week in July, said he teaches the drawing class and works with the students to express themselves through art.

One of Wackell’s students, who nicknamed himself “Brock,” spent two hours in class and three hours of his own free time sketching the president’s house.

“My student, I am so proud of him, he worked very hard on this,” Wackell said. “…He seems very proud of this and was very proud when I showed other people.”

For most students, this wasn’t their first trip to the U.S. But for some, it was their first trip to the east coast.

Thirteen-year-old Jia Ye Li said he enjoyed playing basketball with his fellow classmates, as well as with some local college students, but what he enjoyed most is drawing the wildlife on campus.

“It’s very clean and natural,” Li said.

Like the other 22 students in the program, Li studies at Suzhou Industrial Park Foreign Language School in China.

GCF founder Xin Xin said coming to Paxton is a drastic change for the students because it is a more rural setting, while the students are more used to the hustle and bustle of Suzhou.

“They’re all from a big city,” Xin Xin said. “In Suzhou, there are not a lot of hiking areas there. They really enjoy the nature and the wildlife here.”

The program took the young adult participants to Paxton from July 9 through July 14, Xin Xin said. That week was strictly for academic studies. For the following week, the students would fly to Orlando where they would tour NASA and spend two days bouncing from Universal Studios to Disney World. “Because it’s summer, if you do physics or chemistry, that’s too academic,” Xin Xin said. “Art, most people can accept that.”

When the students aren’t in the classroom, they have the entire AMC grounds to explore. One of the teachers, Damon Dong, took his students hiking on campus to acclimate them to the area.

“They started to talk to local people and local students,” Dong said. “The first time they’re too shy to express themselves and to say that they want to play with them, like play football or play basketball. But I think it’s been a big improvement for them.”

Because Dong has a lot of the same students in his classroom at the international school in Suzhou, he said he’s able to better connect with them. But some of the students are away without their parents for the first time, and they’ve had to take care of themselves in ways they haven’t had to before.

“In China and Suzhou they just play and study, and here, they do some laundry and order the meals by themselves,” Dong said.

Another instructor with the program, Radiant Zhang, said she also saw the teens open up more as they interacted with locals in English.

“The first day of being here they played basketball with the U.S. students,” Zhang said. “They enjoyed playing with them, [whereas] before I think they were very shy, and they didn’t want to talk with anybody else.”

While the students aged between 12 and 17 years old are having fun playing around on campus, they’re also learning new words and how to use them, from “relax” to “phobia.”

GCF hopes to use the success of this summer’s program as a jump-off point into next summer, when they hope to have groups of kindergarteners come to Paxton to have a similar experience. Article was written by Rachel Ettlinger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Article taken from:

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Equestrian team forms at Anna Maria

Anna Maria Equestrian
Horseback riders are in demand at Anna Maria College as the school’s first equestrian team will form this fall.
The driving force behind the decision to add this sport is Anna Maria’s assistant online director, Lorene Farrar. Mrs. Farrar, who has worked at the college more than 20 years, fell in love with riding several years ago and began taking lessons at Becker College’s Equestrian Center in Paxton, taking advantage of the discounted rates offered through the Worcester consortium of colleges. While she was aware of Becker’s equestrian team, Ms. Farrar said she was surprised to learn that other area colleges also had teams. “I discovered that all these colleges had equestrian teams,” she recalled, going on to name Assumption College, Clark University, College of the Holy Cross and Worcester State University. “I thought, we need to do this at Anna Maria,” she said. The idea was embraced by others on campus and finally got the approval of Anna Maria College President Mary Lou Retelle. The team will call Holiday Acres Equestrian Center in Rutland home, Ms. Farrar will be the program’s director and Geralyn Szczurko, competitive riding instructor at Holiday Acres, will serve as head coach. That being said, there are still a lot of steps necessary to put together an equestrian team. The first step is for students to join the riding club, and then those who are interested in competing may take the next step of trying out. Ms. Szczurko hopes to hold tryouts before school starts, but doesn’t have a specific date yet.

Anna Maria plans to join the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and compete within its network.The IHSA promotes competition for riders of all skill levels, who compete individually and as teams at regional, zone and national levels, according to its website. Ms. Szczurko explained that in equestrian sports there is no Division 1 and Division 2 as in football, but rather it is just by region and zone. Anna Maria will compete against other New England colleges. “We could potentially compete against a large team like UMass and then a smaller team,” she said.

Ten new applicants for this fall are interested in joining the riding club, Mrs. Farrar said. “Hopefully, we’ll get a good team,” she said. Anna Maria has a spacious campus. Could it one day have a barn and horses there? “We’re excited for the start of our Equestrian Club and look forward to future days and growth of the program,” Ms. Farrar said.

Article Taken from:
By Bonnie Russell / Telegram & Gazette Staff


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Anna Maria College Honored Among National College of Distinction

College of Distinction
PAXTON, MA: — Anna Maria College has been recognized for its committed implementation of High-Impact Educational Practices, earning its title as one of the nation’s Colleges of Distinction.
Anna Maria has proven itself to be at the forefront of American higher education with a modern, student-centered approach to teaching. With a unique learning environment, its programming engages students with character-building first-year seminars, community-based learning programs, service-learning programs, alternative Spring Breaks, interdisciplinary programs, collaborative assignments and projects, living-learning communities, capstone projects, study abroad programs, and internships. “We are absolutely thrilled to recognize Anna Maria College as a College of Distinction for its effective dedication to student success,” said Tyson Schritter, Chief Operating Officer for Colleges of Distinction. “Colleges of Distinction is so impressed with Anna Maria’s curriculum, which is enriched with the kind of High-Impact Educational Practices that are most crucial for student development. Such innovative engagement is preparing the next generation of young adults to thrive after college.” Colleges of Distinction’s selection process consists of a review of each institution’s freshman experience and retention efforts alongside its general education programs, alumni success, strategic plan, student satisfaction, and more. Schools are accepted on the basis that they adhere to the Four Distinctions: Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes. “Colleges of Distinction is far more than a ranking list of colleges and universities,” said Schritter. “We seek out the schools that are wholly focused on the student experience, constantly working to produce graduates who are prepared for a rapidly changing global society. Now recognized as a College of Distinction, <College Name> stands out in the way it strives to help its students to learn, grow, and succeed.” About Colleges of Distinction
Since 2000, the Colleges of Distinction website and guidebook have honored schools throughout the U.S. for their excellence in undergraduate-focused higher education. The cohort of schools in the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their focus on the undergraduate experience. The website and annual guidebooks provide dynamic college profiles, customized tools, and resources for students, parents, and high school counselors. For more information, and to learn how to become a College of Distinction, visit

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President Mary Lou Retelle to chair GNAC Presidents' Council

WINTHROP, Mass – Longtime Great Northeast Athletic Conference Commissioner Joe Walsh is pleased to announce the 2018-19 leading roles for both the GNAC Presidents' Council and Executive Committee.
Anna Maria College President Mary Lou Retelle will serve as chair of the GNAC Presidents' Council for the 2018-19 academic year, replacing Rivier University President Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM. As the GNAC continues to promote student-athlete success, Retelle will work with Commissioner Walsh and the conference's other 12 presidents in a strategic effort to enhance the student-athlete experience. Retelle became the first woman in more than 20 years to serve as the Anna Maria president, taking office in 2015 after first joining the school in 2011 as executive vice president. Prior to that, she spent 15 years at Merrimack College and was also a consultant at Suffolk University. Buley, who helped oversee a successful 2017-18 academic year in the GNAC, has previously served on the NCAA Division III Chancellors/Presidents Advisory Group – the same committee that Saint Joseph's College of Maine President James Dlugos is currently a member of on a national level. On the GNAC Executive Committee, which is made up by members of the league's AD Council, Suffolk Director of Athletics Cary McConnell will step in as chair, replacing former Johnson & Wales University (RI) Director of Athletics Jamie Marcoux, who in June became NCAA Division-II Assumption College's fifth director of athletics in its 114-year history. McConnell's duties will include, in conjunction with Commissioner Walsh, setting agendas and conducting AD Council meetings. He produced 17 consecutive 20-win seasons at the helm of the Suffolk baseball program before taking over the reigns of the Rams athletic department in October 2014. University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) Athletic Director and Associate VP of Student Affairs Bill Cardarelli and Emmanuel College Director of Athletics and Recreation Brendan McWilliams will also serve on the GNAC Executive Committee with McConnell. Prior to McConnell and Marcoux, Saint Joseph's of Maine Athletic Director Brian Curtin served as the Executive Committee chair, helping the conference staff and its administrators enter a crucial strategic planning stage. The GNAC has expanded both its core membership and championship offerings in recent years. Regis (Mass.) began its time as a full league member in 2017-18, while Colby-Sawyer College became the conference's newest core member on July 1. The GNAC also sponsored three new championship events during the 2017-18 academic year – men's swimming & diving as well as men's and women's outdoor track & field

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Dr. Karin Ciance selected as Empowered Woman of the Year Award for 2018

web Ciance

Dr. Karin Ciance, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Anna Maria College, was just recently selected for the Empowered Woman of the Year Award for 2018 by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP).

While inclusion with the International Association of Top Professionals is an honor in itself, only a few women are selected for this distinction.The Empowered Woman of the Year is an award that is given for a Woman who has excelled tremendously in a male dominated industry and has inspired other professionals by her outstanding commitment and contributions to society. IAOTP is incredibly honored to be able to recognize Dr. Ciance for her success and dedication.

Dr. Ciance is being recognized for this honor for having empowering women on a global scale to not only be successful in the healthcare profession, but also as a professor. She has provided visionary leadership in educating students and training nurses. 

Dr. Ciance will be honored for this achievement at the 2018 IAOTP’s Annual Award Gala being held at the Plaza Hotel in, NYC.She will be presented not only with the Empowered Woman of the Year Award but also for her selection for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Ciance was just honored at the 2017 IAOTP’s Annual Award Gala, at the Ritz Carlton in Battery Park NYC for being selected as Top Professional of the Year in Community Health Nursing and named Top Female Healthcare Professional for her outstanding leadership and commitment to the healthcare field.  Stephanie Cirami, President of IAOTP stated “Choosing Dr. Ciance for this award was an easy decision for our panel to make.She is brilliant, extraordinary, and has empowered women to be successful in the healthcare industry. It was great to spend time with Dr. Ciance at this past year’s gala and we are honored to have her with our organization. All honorees are invited to attend the IAOTP’s annual award gala at the end of this year for a night to honor their achievements.

Dr. Ciance is being recognized for having over 3 decades of professional experience in the Nursing Industry and for her outstanding leadership and contribution she has made in all fields of Nursing. With her diverse background and experience Dr. Ciance has held an impressive repertoire of prior roles.She started her career as a Staff Nurse, Charge Nurse, Associate Nurse Manager, Nurse Manager, Director of Clinical Services and Director of Urgent Care.She has worked in many different areas in nursing including urgent care, medical/surgical nursing, women’s health, rehabilitation, community health, home health and long-term care.

Dr. Ciance earned her Diploma in Nursing in 1983 from Worcester City Hospital School of Nursing and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1989 at Worcester State College.While working full time, she simultaneously earned her MS in Community Health Nursing also at Worcester State College in 2004 and completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice at Walden University in 2014.

Dr. Ciance began teaching a lab section at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) and fell in love with it that she later accepted a position at MCPHS University in Worcester, Massachusetts as an Adjunct Nursing Professor.She also accepted a position as an adjunct nursing professor and taught in the graduate nursing program at Worcester State College in the Community Health Nursing program. In 2010, Dr. Ciance taught in the Associate Nursing Program as an adjunct professor, before accepting a full time faculty at Anna Maria College in 2011. Dr. Ciance has demonstrated success not only as a nurse but also as a professor educating nursing students and developing courses for the BSN program and for the college’s online RN-BSN program including fundamentals, community health, public health, research and senior seminar.Dr. Ciance also advises students and attends faculty assemblies and school meetings when she isn’t in the classroom and serves as a mentor for new faculty and graduate nursing students, is the Vice President of the Faculty Assembly. 

Throughout her illustrious career, Dr. Ciance remains active in her community, has received numerous awards, accolades and has been featured in many publications and magazines for her outstanding leadership and commitment to the profession. In 2011 selected as Professional of the Year by Continental Who’s Who.In 2013 selected as VIP of the Year with Strathmore Whos Who.In 2015 she was selected as Outstanding Professional of the Year and inducted as Roundtable Member by Strathmore Who’s Who.In 2016 selected by Oxford Who’s Who Tier of Excellence and featured in Women of Distinction Magazine. She was featured on a billboard on the Reuters Building in Times Square and for 2017 selected Top Nurse in Paxton, Massachusetts by the International Nurses Association and named Top Professional of the Year in Community Health Nursing by the International Association of Top Professionals. She is an active member of Worcester City Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association, recently elected President Elect of the Iota Phi Chapter for the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nurses, the American Nurses Association, Massachusetts/Rhode Island League for Nursing, Golden Key International Honor Society and American Woman of Today. She is also the Executive Director for the Greenwood Street Medical Clinic, which is a free medical clinic that serves underprivileged citizens with no medical insurance. News Story text from

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Kent Wallace Speaks at 2018 Metaphysics Colloquium

Anselm CanterburyVit

Kent Wallace, Visiting Professor of Theology, is one of two invited respondents at the 2018 Metaphysics Colloquium being held at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire on June 6-7, 2018. The Metaphysics Colloquium invites philosophers and theologians from the New England area to discuss issues in metaphysics, with a view to offering the ecclesiastical and scholarly worlds insights and principles upon which to ground their work. The topic of this year’s conference is the question, “Is There a Catholic Philosophy?” Dr. Wallace will read a paper in response to the main paper by Angela Knobel of the Catholic University of America. His paper will appear later in The Saint Anselm Journal. Below is the opening paragraph to Kent's paper:
With respect to the depth of content and the range of influence that the Catholic intellectual tradition has had in Western civilization for more than nineteen hundred years, the question of how a “Catholic philosophy,” per se, should be distinguished from Catholic theology has central importance when considering how human knowledge of transcendent reality should be appropriately established and categorized. While theology and philosophy are distinct disciplines, when distinguishing their respective places within the framework of Christian belief, an explanation of how they precisely differ from each other can seem somewhat murky and unresolved. The most fundamental and distinctive tenets of Christian doctrine – for instance, the Most Holy Trinity and the Incarnation – are at once the most sublime of mysteries to be reverently confessed through the eyes of faith, yet are also topics that appropriately call for rational analysis with the use of metaphysical concepts. Tertullian, the great ecclesiastical writer of the second and third centuries, famously suggested that whatever Athens has to offer humanity pales in comparison to the grace and truth of Christ the Redeemer that radiates from Jerusalem. Although his celebrated pronouncement reminds us of how vital and certain the purity of faith is, his fideistic position was never widely espoused among early Christian writers. Providentially, from its earliest days the seeds of Christian evangelism were disseminated and took root within Hellenistic civilization, and thereby received fortifying enrichment from the abundance of its philosophical heritage. With respect to many of the most influential minds who contributed to and formed Christian thought throughout the centuries, the historical overlap of philosophy and theology rendered the two disciplines nearly indistinguishable within a Christian worldview. Doubtless, St Augustine, for instance, and many of the greatest theologians throughout the history of the Church would have unequivocally considered themselves philosophers in the proper sense.

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Anna Maria's Molly Bish Center Presents Missing Children's Day

MCD 2018
Massachusetts’s Missing Children’s Day

On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, we commemorate the 18th Missing Children’s Day in Massachusetts.  Families, friends, and community members are invited to honor the lives that have been taken from their loved ones too soon.  The ceremony will be held at the Grand Staircase in the Boston State House at 11 a.m.  The Molly Bish Center and Foundation will host families of missing and murdered children across the Commonwealth hearing from various politicians, assembling a “Wall of Wonder” with each child’s name and picture, recognizing those who work on behalf of these children, and recognizing their families.  Vocalist, Brooks Milgate, will be offering his talents in song.

This event coincides with National Missing Children’s Day held in Washington D.C.  In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 as National Missing Children's Day. Each year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) commemorates Missing Children's Day with a ceremony honoring the heroic and exemplary efforts of agencies, organizations, and individuals to protect children. 

The Molly Bish Foundation has hosted this event for the past 17 years for families in Massachusetts. This year, Anna Maria College’s Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly will assume the role of organizing the event going forward. The Molly Bish Foundation will remain involved in the event, but not to the capacity that they have been for the last 17 years.  We ask the public to please join us in honoring the over 100 missing children in Massachusetts, and to express our gratitude to John and Magi Bish for starting this ceremony and highlighting the plight of these children and their families.

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Spring 2018 Dean's List

Spring 2018 Dean's List

Congratulations to the students who made the 2018 Spring Dean's List:

Patrick Adams Emmanuel Leake
Stephanie Allen Amanda Lemire
Samantha Allison Jennifer Lopez
Emily Alves Destinee Lucier
Romina Amoah Tatyana Lugo-Gardner
Alexander Angelo Lexey Lutz
Phillip Antonucci Juliet Maglitta
Esther Apeah Kaitlyn Magner
Chrysta Aspinall Ariss Maher
Alexis Atkins Jillian Major
Jerome Ball Ivy Mamesah
Nicole Ballard Andrew Marcotte
Jackee Banfill Kaylee Marshall
Deja Barber Emily Martin
Jessica Barbera Jonathan Marx
Darren Belliveau Jeffrey Mayer
Kyle Benning Kayla McBrien
Simon Berry Katherine McCabe
Kaylee Besse Anna McCormack
Adam Black Emma McGrath
Nicholas Blood William Mehigan
Colleen Bogonovich Anne Melanson
Ashley Bottis Monica Mita
Madison Brasier Matthew Mitera
Matthew Braz Christian Molina Flores
Karlyn Brown Djimon Moore
Trevor Brown Hayley Morin
Camden Brown Sabrina Moroney
Lauren Burns Moses Murenzi
Sabrina Carreira Ryan Murphy
Nadia Carrillo Alex Myers
Derrick Casey Emily Ngo
Bianca Cassanelli Vanessa Nina
John Castilleja Nathaniel O'Lari
Marianell Castillo Erica O'Leary
Katherine Castro Karen Oberg
Jaritza Castro Ciara OConnor
Daniel Chambers Kayla Odegaard
Abygail Chapdelaine Anianjolice Oquendo
Angelica Chavez Abigail Packard
Vivian Chiang Marylee Panient
Nellda Clark Kevin Paquette
Sarah Coley Kayla Paterson
Joseph Collins Schwarz Paul
Christopher Contento Brandon Pavoni
Brittany Cook Suzanne Pekar
Bailey Correia Otto Pellegrino
Jacquelyn Cournoyer Audhinn Pelletier
Chelsea Cove Tyler Perron
Andrew Cucci Adam Phillips
Nicole Denver Alan Portis
Sonya DiPietro Michael Purnell
Domenic DiSandro III Jadelia Quintana
Diandra Doble Rebecca Raphael
Andrew Donabedian Michael Rapoza
Kiera Draney Delia Regan
Theodore Duchesney Harley Richards III
Lauren Dummer Daniel Rinkus
Rachel Eilerman Shaun Roberts Jr
Anekah Ellis Paul Robitaille
Maria Espinal Claudia Rodas
Joseph Fahey Kristina Russo
Callan Finn-McMahon Jessica Ruttan
Hannah Flynn Andreas Sacripante
Shannon Foley Jessica Salles
Zachary Foley Cox Dolapo Sanni
Rebecca Foti Melissa Scannell
Connor Francis Amanda Servis
Maria Franco Jason Shell
Camryn Gallagher Dasmine Silva
Samantha Gobin Jacob Smith
Anna Golemo James Smith
Janeliee Gomez Kara Spence
Mellany Gomez Michelle St Denis
Naomi Griswold Anthony St Pierre
Theresa Guidotti Lisa Stefanick
Maria Gurriere Doriela Stoja
Dakota Haddad Liam Stone
Kyle Hansen Daniel Stout
Emily Hawley Hailey Sughrue
Madelyn Hill Anxhela Sulollari
Breana Hogan Courtney Sutton
Noah Holland Christine Swain
Joseph Holmes Michaella Taddeo
Helza Howland Cassim Morgan Tait
Samantha Hume Mary Tanona
Danielle Huston Kelley Tarani
Jon Isperduli Madison Tashjian
Wasfa Jaffri Courtney Taylor
Tanner Jakola Austin Thomas
Theodora Jean Michael Tourony
Daniel Jodrey Johane Toussaint
Emily Johnson Nathan Trombley
Alicia Johnston Hannah Trudo
Deborah Joseph Meghan Vieira
Jenna Karl Noah Vinci
Christina Katsogridakis Heather Wallace
Matthew Kelley Cole Walling
Patrick Kenary Tami Warner
Bryan Kiley Jerica Washington
Sabrina LaMountain Trai Weaver
Yvonne Lamptey Kristen Whitton
Robert Lancaster Joshua Wozniak
Jacqueline Lapierre Jessica Wunderlich
Shannon Latour Sophia Yasin
Colton Layman Ariana Zecco
Ngocgiau Le

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Anna Maria 2018 Commencement

Commencement 2018
WORCESTER — Anna Maria College graduates celebrated, during the school’s 69th commencement exercises Saturday, the culmination of four years of hard work and determination at the Catholic institution inspired by the ideals of the Sisters of Saint Anne. Graduation was in the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts. President Mary Lou Retelle, who took her post four years ago when the graduates were incoming freshmen, said that during her first term as president at Anna Maria, she had similar feelings as the students had as they settled in on campus, contemplating what lay ahead. “Transcending everything for me was a powerful feeling of optimism as your new president, and with good reason,” Ms. Retelle said. “The optimism I saw in every single one of your faces, I see it, again, today on your faces.” The work of all members of the Anna Maria community, she said, has made the college stronger and greater and led to an increase in enrollment each year and a new bold direction set by the school’s board of trustees. “Across the nation people need your help,” she told the graduates and encouraged them to go into the world and contribute, not to filter facts as they access all the information they have available, and not to equivocate when it comes to their morals. Ms. Retelle quoted from Pope Franics’ message given during his Palm Sunday homily.
“Dear young people, you have it in you to shout,” she said. “It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?” Undergraduate student speaker Bryanna C. Tobin, who majored in psychology and is planning a career in music therapy, said the people she connected with at Anna Maria the last four years are more like family than friends. “You know more about us than we know about ourselves at times,” Ms. Tobin said. “I’ve learned so much from my time at Anna Maria.” She asked her fellow classmates to listen to the words of author and activist Arthur R. Ashe Jr., an African-American professional tennis player who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion and went on to advocate for those with AIDS and against social injustices.

“To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have and do what you can,” she told the assembly.

The graduates, who come from diverse backgrounds, she said, including some who are parents and “some who don’t know what they would do without their parents,” all have the tools needed to make a difference in the world. She encouraged those in the audience to introduce themselves to the person near them and share their story – “You’ve started where you are,” she said. She told them to take what they had learned the last four years, embrace life, be successful and make the world a better place. “Do what you can – that does not mean doing the bare minimal,” she said. “Recognize your potential and achieve it. ... Find your passion, set goals, make your dreams and achieve them, no matter how long it takes. Put the work in, and in your own unique way, you will change the world.” Click here to view images from Commencement Weekend. Article taken from (

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Former Drug Czar’s Words Results in Open Discussion on Opiates at Anna Maria College

In a crowded Worcester City Hall conference room, the former National Drug Czar Michael Botticelli told a group of healthcare professionals and treatment providers to “align yourself with Law Enforcement.”

Those words were met with a mix of bewilderment, skepticism and astonishment. This was certainly not the status quo of the socially conscious and caring individuals who take the lead in caring for our disenfranchised public.   For some, Mr. Botticelli’s words on that Aug. 22 afternoon would become a call to action. Dr. James DiReda, Director of the Bachelor of Social Work Program at Anna Maria College, saw the synergy and simple truth to the former Drug Czar’s statement, and took it to the college’s administration.  With full support from Mary Lou Retelle, Anna Maria’s President, Dr. Christine Holmes Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Judy Kenary, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr. John Pratico, Director of Psychology, Anna Maria College convened a Round Table to discuss the issues of Opiates in our community.  The administration at Anna Maria know that education, prevention, treatment, and government all play a vital role if we are hoping to change our current experience regarding addiction to opiates and many other substance use disorders.  They invited a group of diverse individuals, primarily from Law Enforcement to exchange ideas on the Opiate Epidemic in a Round Table Discussion on Wednesday, Sept. 20th, 2017. Invited to the discussion were Worcester Police Chief Steve Sargent and former Chief Edward Gardella, Massachusetts District Court Judges Timothy Bibaud and Michael Allard-Madaus — both pioneers in Massachusetts Drug Courts, Worcester Public Schools Safety Director Robert Pezzella –a leader in drug education for the Worcester Public Schools, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early’s office, represented by Liz Haddad, Worcester County Office of the Sheriff, represented by Joe D’Ambra and Shawn McKenna, Paul LaCava from Quinsigamond Community College, Dr. Mattie Castiel, Commissioner of Health and Human Services for the City of Worcester, Jack Maroney, a treatment provider and co-author (with Dr. DiReda) of the East Side of Addiction, Jim Gorske, Director of the Adcare Educational Institute, Kelly Sullivan, Anna Maria Faculty, and several Anna Maria College students.  SWK Conference 2018

Those gathered around the table knew this public health emergency is important and made time in their demanding schedules to attend a two-hour discussion about opiates and their impact on our community. They came to learn, to share, and to connect with colleagues, and a core group of Anna Maria faculty and administrators renewing their relationships and forming new ones to continue working to change the effects of opiates and addiction on our community.    The idea and need for the creation of a Center for Excellence in Addiction Studies was also discussed by those around the table in conjunction with attendees sharing what they are seeing and experiencing in their day to day world.  And so began the momentum which led to a series of initiatives designed to address the issues around drugs and addiction in our community.  Since that initial Round Table meeting, Anna Maria College has listened and responded to the needs of our community by: developing courses on addiction and recovery, designing and offering a 18-24 credit Addictions Studies Minor for those students looking to incorporate a deeper-level understanding of addiction into their Major studies, developing a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor graduate certificate program, accreditingAnna Maria College as an Addiction Education Provider through the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS) and hosting a student-driven Opiate Conference here at Anna Maria College on April 11, 2018. Anna Maria College is a natural fit to help address the issues of addiction in our community by educating our Nursing, Psychology, Social Work, Fire Science, Criminal Justice, and Human Services students who will ultimately work at the community agencies and organizations that interface with individuals, families, and communities affected by addiction.  According to Dr. DiReda, our job, in keeping with our mission, is to “educate students to become individuals who will transform their world as ethical leaders and community-oriented professionals,” and they are doing just that.  One example of this is a recent conference held at Anna Maria titled “Overcoming Drug Addiction: What are we doing?” At this conference, designed and hosted by Anna Maria Social Work seniors, multiple community stakeholders who were also members of the Round Table discussions held earlier at Anna Maria College, presented on how their agencies are addressing the issues of drug misuse and addiction. The conference ended with the showing of “If Only,” a documentary produced by Jim Wahlberg and the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, followed by a discussion facilitated by Jim Wahlberg, highlighting Kathy Leonard, a Mother who lost her son to opioid overdose.   This conference, and all the work Anna Maria College has been doing to bring attention to the prevalence of opioids in our communities, paves the way for future initiatives designed to raise awareness and develop best-practices around prevention, education, and treatment regarding addiction, including a Center for Excellence to further study this topic.   SWK Conference 2018

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Alternative Spring Break 2018

Alternative Spring Break

Each year almost thirty five percent (35%) of the student population that applies and enrolls comes with experience and interest in continuing to work in the area of Community Service. Recently a number of Anna Maria College students along with the Director and Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, Fr. Manuel Clavijo and Melissa LaNeve, spent the week of March 4th through March 10th in Houston, Texas for our annual Alternative Spring Break service trip. This trip was done in collaboration with Vacations that Give, an organization run by the Sisters of St. Anne, as well as the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The team was able to help serve families from the Archdiocese in Houston whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.

One group of students worked on the inside of a family of four’s home. They completed all new insulating and dry walling around the lower half of every room, which was needed due to the damage left by the flooding. The second group of students worked underneath another home - adding insulation and styrofoam between the joists to help with temperature control after it had been raised four feet off the ground to prevent further flood damage.

A special part of this week was being able to spend time with members of the family in a second home. The mother and her 20 year old son exemplified generosity by giving from the little they had to make sure our team was well cared for. The son spent the full week working with the Anna Maria students helping renovate the damaged home. It was impressive to see the amount of work that was accomplished by all in such a short amount of time.

Additional highlights for the team included a reflection each night that centered on the theme of “gratitude.” Insights included the importance of living in the moment and disconnecting from our phones in order to be more present with those around us, and to appreciate the struggles as they often show us the areas we need to grow most. As the week came to a close, it was mentioned the group reflected on the hard work and more importantly the close relationships among the team members, with the families, with oneself, and with God.

Overall, the 2018 Alternative Spring Break trip was a profound, impactful, and fruitful experience for all. Each participant returned to campus changed for the better and ready to bring even more change to their community back home. Anna Maria students often volunteer over 5,000 hours of service each year. The work and commitment reflects the mission of Anna Maria - a college that educates students to become individuals who will transform their world as ethical leaders and community-oriented professionals.

Participants included: Matthew Braz ‘20, Elizabeth Casella ’18, Sarah Coley ’19, Emily Hawley ’19, Kaylee Marshall ’19 (Student Leader), Kennedy Mastriani ’21, Kayla McBrien ’19, Patrick McKenna ’19 (Student Leader), Matthew Mitera ’18, Kayla Pearson ’21, Opal Powers ’21, Bryanna Tobin ‘18

Alternative Spring Break

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