Lee named a Bellwether Award finalist

Weekend College Recognized

Lee College received notification in late December that it was one of ten national finalists selected for the prestigious Bellwether Award on the merit of its Weekend College program. The Bellwether Awards are conferred by The Bellwether College Consortium housed within The University of Florida’s College of Education.

The Bellwether Awards are given annually to community colleges that have implemented innovatively outstanding programs with demonstrated success. Winners were announced at the end of January 2018. While Lee College was not among the winners this year it was, nonetheless a significant achievement to have been named a finalist as it was also the college’s first time to participate in the competition.

The Bellwether Awards identify and promote effective post-secondary programs for replication at higher education institutions across the nation and consequently positions colleges to pursue various funding opportunities. The consortium also provides a platform for its members to collaborate on potential joint ventures while having access to educational thought leaders.

“This is the first time Lee College has been recognized for this prestigious, national distinction,” says Lee College President, Dr. Dennis Brown. “It’s especially fitting given the significance of the college’s Weekend College and its impact on the futures of our students. This program is literally changing lives by providing access to education in a format that speaks to real-life scenarios. People have families – they have to go to work. The Weekend College format at Lee College makes it possible. It truly is transformative for our students. I couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved in the Weekend College – especially our students.”

Lee College’s Weekend College is targeted to adult learners and working students. Funded through a $2.7 million First in the World Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Weekend College gives students the opportunity to earn associate degrees in less than 2 years by attending classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Five majors are currently offered: Transfer in Allied Health, General Studies – Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management, Industrial Welding Technology and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology. The Weekend College recently graduated its first class in May of this year less than 24 months of the program’s first start.   Lee is the only community college district in Texas — and one of only four community colleges in the entire country — selected to receive First in the World grant funds.

Of the first cohort of students to enroll in the Weekend College in Fall 2015, fully 70 percent completed their associate degree programs in less than 24 months – significantly more than the state average of 12 percent that measures out to three years. Much of that success is attributed to the program’s unique design, which keeps the same groups of students together from enrollment to graduation or transfer; offers courses at multiple campus locations, with many delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction; provides block scheduling that enables students to know exactly which courses to take and when they will be held; and ensures Weekend College courses are never dropped or filled to capacity. Students also work with a completion coach who helps them apply and enroll, secure financial aid and conquer any challenges that arise during the program or after graduation.

Speaking to the success of the program, Dr. Veronique Tran, Vice President of Instruction for Lee College says, “The power of the relationships being built between the students, staff and faculty cannot be understated. Those connections are powerful. It’s certainly one of the primary reasons we are seeing so many students stay in the program and graduate.” Tran goes on to echo Brown’s comment regarding the way the Weekend College is structured. “By developing a program built to suit the needs of working families, we empower those students. All the commitment in the world falls by the wayside if the schedule doesn’t work for the student. But when we are able to meet people where they are and making access possible, they flourish. Lee College’s Weekend College is proof of that.”

College representatives will be traveling to Florida in January to attend The Bellwether Finalist Awards presentation. The awards ceremony is part of a national policy summit sponsored jointly by the National Council for State Directors of Community Colleges and the Institute of Higher Education (IHE) at the University of Florida. The summit provides an interactive forum for higher education leaders on the topics of recruiting, retention, and success of adult learners and latest trends in adult learner policies and programs on a national, state, and institutional level.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College hiring for Kids at College program

BAYTOWN, TX — The Center for Workforce and Community Development at Lee College is hiring teachers for its 2018 Kids at College summer program, scheduled to run Monday, June 4, through Friday, Aug. 17, at the Lee College campus located at 200 Lee Drive in Baytown. The program was designed to keep children ages 5 to 17 active and engaged in the summer through a wide variety of hands-on, educational, creative, and athletic camps. Camps will include creative/art courses, career exploration, brain training, teen courses, sports, and more.

Qualifications for teacher positions include a high school diploma or equivalent (G.E.D), documented related work experience, certification(s) or associate eegree in the area of study, ability to work individually with diverse ages and populations, ability to act with discretion and maintain confidentiality, and ability to climb stairs/stand/walk/bend/kneel. Applicants with the appropriate credentials and qualifications are encouraged to apply; local applicants are preferred. Lee College is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national/ethnic origin.

“This is an excellent opportunity for recent graduates or students interested in pursuing a teaching degree to gain valuable work experience, network with peers, and advance their leadership skills,” said Angela Oriano, Ph.D., Vice President of Workforce & Corporate Partnerships. “We offer flexible work schedules, the ability to team-teach with a colleague, and creative classroom freedom for our teachers, allowing them to really have fun this summer and make a difference in a child’s life.” The Center for Workforce is also interested in new camp ideas from prospective teachers, and encourages anyone with an idea to visit www.lee.edu/kids and click on “Course Proposal,” or call 281.425.6311.

To view the job listing or apply, visit www.lee.edu/kids and click on the link titled “Apply for a teacher position.” For more information, call 281.425.6311.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee to recognize more than 500 graduates at commencement

Dr. Cody Abshier of the Liberty Independent School District will deliver keynote remarks

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College will recognize more than 500 graduates who have earned associate degrees and certificates of completion at the Fall 2017 Commencement Ceremony. Dr. Cody Abshier, superintendent of the Liberty Independent School District, will deliver keynote remarks.

Fall Commencement will be held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, in the sports arena on campus. The ceremonies will also be streamed live online via the Lee College website at www.lee.edu.

Selected by the Liberty ISD Board of Trustees to serve as superintendent of the district in 2012, Abshier holds a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Lamar University, where he also earned a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration and Bachelor of Science degree in Education with an elementary endorsement and reading specialization. His doctoral dissertation, “Superintendent Perspectives of Financial Survival Strategies in Small Schools,” was published in “The Rural Educator,” the official peer-reviewed academic journal of the National Rural Education Association.

Prior to taking the reins at Liberty ISD, Abshier served as superintendent, assistant superintendent and principal for Devers Independent School District over the course of a four-year tenure. He was the principal of Anahuac Middle School from 2002-2008, and started his educational career as a teacher at Liberty Elementary School from 1990-1999 and Devers Junior High School from 1999-2002.

A member of numerous civic organizations — including the First Baptist Church, Lions Club, Rotary Club and Fine Arts Society in Liberty and the Liberty Independent Education Foundation — Abshier was chosen to receive the Community Builder’s Award in Liberty in 2015. He was also recognized as Educator of the Year for Chambers County in 2007 and Administrator of the Year for the Anahuac Independent School District in 2005, and earned honors from the Liberty ISD school board in 1995 for going “Above the Call of Duty.”

Abshier and his wife, Kristi, are the parents of two grown children, Wil and Whitney.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Baytown City Councilman to award $500 scholarship at Lee College basketball game

Any LC student at Dec. 9 game could win scholarship from Charles Johnson of District No. 3

Baytown City Councilman Charles Johnson at Lee College
Baytown City Councilman Charles Johnson of District 3 is donating $500 to help a Lee College student fund his or her education. Johnson will award the scholarship at the Dec. 9 basketball home game as part of a raffle and half-court shooting challenge with a special twist.

BAYTOWN, TX — One Lee College student who attends the Runnin’ Rebel home basketball game against Lone Star College — Tomball on Saturday, Dec. 9, will walk away from the Sports Arena with a $500 scholarship, courtesy of Baytown City Councilman Charles Johnson.

Johnson, a Lee College alumnus who campaigned for the District 3 council seat on the slogan “We Are ‘IT’: Improving Together,” is donating the scholarship money in hopes of giving a student the boost needed to fund his or her education and improve the future both for the recipient and his or her family.

“I really enjoyed my time at Lee College, learned so much and made new connections. Now I have the opportunity to pay it forward,” said Johnson, who graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling and later returned to earn a credential in Child Development. His mother, Charlene Jones, is a long-time instructor of cosmetology.

To be eligible for the scholarship, Lee College students must show their ID at the game and receive a raffle ticket. The student whose ticket number is called at halftime will have three chances to make a shot with the ball starting at the half-court line. No special basketball skills will be necessary, however, because of a surprise twist that Johnson will reveal during the scholarship presentation.

The winning student can be enrolled in any Lee College degree or certificate program, and use the scholarship to pay for any educational needs — whether tuition, textbooks, classroom or laboratory supplies or something else entirely. Johnson said he did not place any stipulations on how the money should be spent, because he understands that unexpected situations can arise.

“This scholarship may inspire a part-time student to take a few more hours, or help someone have the opportunity to enjoy college as much as I did,” Johnson said. “Lee College helps Baytown residents prepare for, plan and even re-imagine their futures — and no matter what age you are, if you have an education, you have a future.”

The Runnin’ Rebels will tip off against Lone Star College – Tomball at 6 p.m.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College Athletics reaches goal of donating 20,000 canned goods to community

Student-athletes joined by Lee High School Interact Club for latest donation of 1,300 items

The Lee College Athletics Department recently partnered with students from the Robert E. Lee High School Interact Club in Baytown to donate 1,300 canned goods to St. Paul Lutheran’s Church in an effort to help fight hunger in the local community. This latest donation allowed the athletic department to reach its goal of donating a total of 20,000 canned goods to the community since the “I Can, You Can, We Can” collection drive was started in 2009.

BAYTOWN, TX — With Thanksgiving approaching and many local families in need of help to fill their cabinets and pantries, Lee College basketball and volleyball student-athletes partnered with the Robert E. Lee High School Interact Club last week to donate 1,300 canned goods to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Baytown.

This latest donation allowed the Lee College Athletic Department to reach an ambitious goal set when then-Athletics Director and Head Basketball Coach Roy Champagne launched the “I Can, You Can, We Can” initiative in 2009: to collect 20,000 canned goods to help feed the hungry in the community.

After collecting 1,600 canned goods in the first year of the project, the athletic department has collected and donated 6,100 canned goods this year alone. Even more canned goods are still awaiting delivery to churches, charities and food banks all over town.

“It is a simple act that many of us take for granted — having food to eat,” Champagne said. “Our athletes do a tremendous job connecting to the individuals and families that receive these items within our Baytown community. I, myself, am overwhelmed at the amount of help that is needed just within our own city limits.”

Both Champagne and Head Volleyball Coach Paige Sorge believe Rebel and Lady Rebel athletes have a responsibility to volunteer their personal time and give back to the community in any way possible. Members of the basketball and volleyball teams regularly visit local elementary schools to speak out against bullying and encourage kids to be stellar students and avid readers; spend time with, mentor and cheer on high-school athletes at their games and practices; and help cook and serve free dinners to neighbors in need.

“It’s a good way to show the community they’re thankful and appreciative for all the support and resources they’ve been given,” Sorge said.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Foundation to award $590K in scholarships for 2017-18

Adrian Touchstone speaks at a lectern.
Lee College alumnus Adrian Touchstone shares with guests at the 32nd annual Lee College Foundation Gala how receiving a scholarship from the foundation helped him complete his associate degree and find greater meaning and purpose in a life once characterized by drug addiction, prison stints and wrongheaded thinking. The foundation announced that proceeds from the gala and generous contributions from donors will allow $590,000 in student scholarships to be awarded for the 2017-18 academic year.
BAYTOWN, TX — As hundreds of friends and supporters bid on auction items, enjoyed dinner and listened to stories of student success at the 32nd annual Lee College Foundation Gala last weekend, the foundation announced that proceeds from the fundraising event and contributions from donors will allow $590,000 in scholarships to be awarded to students this academic year.

The awards — $440,000 in endowed scholarships and $150,000 in technical scholarships — will be available to all Lee College students: those enrolled in courses full-time or part-time, in dual-credit classes where high-school students can earn college credits, in non-credit classes offered by the Center for Workforce and Community Development, and in the Huntsville Center correctional education program.

“The Foundation Board of Directors is always focused on helping students succeed, persist and complete their goals for their education,” said Pam Warford, executive director of Foundation and Resource Development, as she addressed gala underwriters, sponsors and guests. “Thank you for helping us to meet their needs.”

After a 20-year battle with drug addiction that kept him cycling in and out of prison, Lee College alumnus Adrian Touchstone welcomed faith into his life and made the decision to take ownership of his actions. A scholarship from the Lee College Foundation helped open the door to higher education and the chance to continue his transformation into a stronger, wiser and better man.

Now pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston Clear Lake, Touchstone maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA while at Lee College and graduated in May 2017 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in drug and alcohol abuse counseling. He hopes to be an inspiration and source of encouragement for others facing challenges similar to those he has conquered.

“There have been times in my life that I have been hopeless. I had a backwards way of thinking. Love isn’t supposed to hurt, but selfishness and entitlement caused me to a hurt a lot of people who did love me,” said Touchstone, who shared his story at the gala and drew a standing ovation.

“Life began to change when I figured out I was the problem,” he said. “I began a journey to seek meaning, and this has all been made possible by your generosity. Without your commitment, countless individuals would not have the support they need to have one of the most meaningful experiences of their lives.”

Like Touchstone, many Lee College students would be unable to complete their chosen program without financial assistance from the foundation. For Samantha McDonnel, a teacher education major and mother of two who also works full-time in the Office of Financial Aid, an award from the foundation allowed her to cover tuition after spending the money she saved for her education to repair damage her home sustained during Hurricane Harvey.

“I am thankful for the foundation and to all of its donors for giving,” McDonnel said. “When you donate, you’re investing in someone. You’re investing in your community. You are bridging the gap between what could be and what will be.”

Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown echoed that sentiment, telling donors and gala guests that their financial support proved their belief in the college and support of its mission to help students create better and brighter futures through quality higher education.

“We have a great opportunity to help students earn the degree or certificate they need to move forward into their careers with the skills, knowledge and ability to perform in any industry,” Brown said. “It’s not enough to get students into Lee College; we have to get them through Lee College.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Risk Management Institute offers free course on ‘Surviving Violent Encounters’

BAYTOWN, TX — With Americans still reeling from tragic shooting incidents in Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas and around the country, the Risk Management Institute at Lee College is offering a free course this month to help community members recognize the signs that lead to a violent encounter and learn what to do to survive.

“Surviving Violent Encounters” will be held from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 30, in the Phyllis Davis Room at the Lee College Center for Workforce and Community Development, located at 909 Decker Drive in Baytown. The class is free to attend and open to the public – particularly employers and employees in the health care, human resources, social services, hotel, retail, education and public safety industries who are at higher risk of being attacked, as well as anyone interested in enhancing their own personal safety. Participants can register online at www.lee.edu/rmi or contact the workforce center for more information at 281.425.6311.

In the “Surviving Violent Encounters” course, students will develop a better understanding of five basic indicators that a violent situation may occur to give them a tactical advantage if necessary. The instructor will use real-life scenario practice drills, team activities, role playing, video vignettes and guided discovery to help students assess their own preparedness and identify and utilize strategies for surviving violent encounters. Students will be able to take the skills they learn and immediately apply them in the workplace, community and home.

Funded through a donation from Texas Mutual Insurance Co., the Risk Management Institute was created to offer free seminars, workshops and training classes on health and safety for employers, employees, seniors and the general public. The institute’s tagline, “You are priceless. Safety knowledge is free,” reflects its goal of providing free safety education for the Baytown area and surrounding communities.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.