The third class of Clark State Community College SOAR participants will begin their mentorship under the guidance of Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin this fall.
SOAR – Serving Our Own through Leadership and Retention – was developed in order to facilitate mentoring of faculty and staff on campus and assist them in identifying current and future leadership opportunities that will result in personal and professional growth.
“This program has received national recognition and is totally focused on creating a culture of student success at Clark State,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “The benefits of this program accrue every year, as SOAR participants impact their colleagues in positive ways.”
The goal of the SOAR program is to develop and create leaders who are committed to serving Clark State as partners in student success. SOAR is a comprehensive professional development experience for full-time faculty and staff that provides self-assessment, leadership strengths building, mentoring and career development planning, thereby leading to stronger, more prepared leaders who will enhance Clark State’s focus on student success.
Additionally, the program focuses on developing leaders at the individual, team and system levels as well as empowering co-workers of participants to become “implementers of change” at all campus levels.
Selected participants – three faculty members and three staff members - must attend all meetings and events and complete all program requirements. Each will receive a one percent increase in base salary (in addition to any annual salary adjustments) at the successful completion of the program, special recognition at Charter Night and a well- developed career/mentoring plan.
“This year’s SOAR participants represent a diverse and talented group of faculty and staff from across campus,” said Blondin. “This group has been very thoughtful and energetic in their focus on operationalizing student success across Clark State’s five campus locations.”
Tracey Yates, manager of Clark State’s Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center and conference services, has been employed with Clark State for four years. She joined the SOAR program because she felt ready to build on her leadership skills. “I was looking for professional development and for guidance and career development on becoming a better Clark State employee,” she said. “The opportunity to learn different aspects of the college and other community organizations has really helped me grow. Dr. Blondin serves on many boards, and this has really helped me see the large role Clark State plays in the community.”
Yates plans to utilize her enhanced leadership skills when working as a team and as an individual and hopes these skills make a difference at Clark State. “SOAR is a great opportunity to be mentored by the president.”
Crystal Jones, assistant dean of business and applied technologies for Clark State, opted to participate in the SOAR program to develop her professional skills. She wanted to gain a better understanding of the integrated layers of higher education directly affecting student success and assess herself to ensure she continues to be an asset to Clark State.
“Participating in SOAR has helped me grow personally and professionally,” Jones said. “By determining my strengths, encouraging me to further my education and having a better understanding of how to add value to the entire college versus just my department. Working with the other participants has been valuable. Each participant brings something different to the team, and we learn a lot from each other as well.”
Jones said her goal is to continue to build upon her ten years of academic experience and current position as an assistant dean to prepare her for future opportunities in higher education. “Knowing that you have the support of your institution, led by the college president is beyond motivating!”
Blondin said this year the SOAR participants focused more on strategic planning, and next year will take a look at providing input on changes to the budget process at Clark State.
Applications for the 2019-20 class of SOAR participants are now being accepted until 5 p.m. on April 1. Those selected for the SOAR program will be mentored for one year. Mentoring will officially begin in August of this year.
“I always look forward to getting to know faculty and staff better,” said Blondin. “As well as encouraging them in their future ambitions.”