Photograph of Stephanie WhalenWritten by Stephanie Whalen, Chair, Academy for Teaching Excellence

As we welcome you to the Fall 2017 semester, I want to share a little with you about why I think Harper College and the Academy for Teaching Excellence are so wonderful. When I was growing up in a small town in New York state, the center of activity was our K-12 public school. I was fortunate enough to participate in an enrichment program called Odyssey of the Mind in which teams of students selected a problem to solve over the course of a year and had to present a solution with a creative demonstration; we also had to address spontaneous problems provided to us on the competition day with limited resources. We were continuously challenged and encouraged to think outside the box; time spent synthesizing ideas in these groups was enthralling. My experiences at Harper have brought back positive associations of working as part of a team where all members bring their talents, creativity, and dedication to finding innovative and effective solutions to improve the many integrated functions of our institution.

Within and outside of the Academy, the structure at Harper offers opportunities to join many dynamic teams working to address complex issues, which is something that brings ongoing challenges, set-backs, and triumphs to our workdays. If you are not already taking part in one of the many programs available through the Academy, I invite you to join us or help create a new offering; you will experience a sense of cohesiveness and inspiration as we collaboratively respond to the ever-changing needs of our community. If you are a more independent type, I encourage you to utilize the wealth of instructional and technological expertise the Academy offers as you refine your teaching craft. As Trygve Thoreson remarked about William Rainey Harper in Harper College: The First 50 Years, our college continues to be a “tireless educational innovator and experimenter” because of the energies we invest here together. I’m so honored to be able to continue to serve along with you as part of the Academy.