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Student Success Team Presents at Writing Center Conference

For the second time, representatives from Villa Maria’s Student Success Center presented at the Writing Center Conference at Houghton College.

Although small, this conference provides a valuable platform for members of the SSC team to share the important work that goes on in Villa’s Student Success Center. Elizabeth Kerr, director of student success, worked in conjunction with SSC tutors Alissa Kowalski, Donna Yaeger and Jillian Walkowiak to create a presentation that was in line with the conference’s theme and highlighted the group’s areas of expertise.

“The theme of this year’s conference, “Confidence, Competence, and Compassion,” was especially relevant to the work that we have implemented in the Student Success Center,” Kerr continued. “We decided to focus our presentation on the idea of compassion, as it’s not only one of the College’s core values, but important to the work that we in the SSC every day.”

“Our tutors are constantly on the front line with students, and not only provide the content of the subject matter, but treat each person who comes into the SSC with dignity and compassion,” said Kerr. “This conference gave our tutoring staff the opportunity to showcase the hard work that they do at every stage. Additionally, we were able to learn about the best practices that other private colleges have established.”

The team’s presentation was based on an article by Vandeyar and Swart entitled, “Educational Change: a Case for a Pedagogy of Compassion.”  The article uses critical theory and the work of Friere to name and explore what a pedagogy of compassion is, and how it is relevant to the work that we do. Throughout the presentation, the team defined “Pedagogy of Compassion,” based on the article.  Kerr discussed the structures of our physical space, focus on relationship building, and tutor training, and identified areas that they fit into this pedagogical framework. Each professional tutor took a part of the framework, and related a case study tutoring experience to where they have implemented a pedagogy of compassion.

Four professional women smiling














From left to right: Alissa Kowalski, Elizabeth Kerr, Jillian Walkowiak and Donna Yaeger.