Alma College staff run for community positions

KYLE SCHECK
PHOTOGRAPHER

CLAIRE WITTLIEFF
STAFF WRITER

11/7/2022

With the election season underway, all eligible voters are having candidates and policies brought to their attention in order for their vote to make the difference they want to see. Keeping this in mind, there are three members of the Alma College faculty and staff who are running for positions within the Alma community.                                                                                           

Stephany Slaughter, a Spanish and Women’s & Gender Studies professor, is running for the Alma School Board. “I am running because I believe in the value of public education and the importance of cooperation between communities and schools,” said Slaughter. “In my role as [a] parent, I began thinking about running for the Board of Education several years ago and began looking at what it might entail.”                                                                                           

Slaughter also stated how her time working at Alma College has contributed to the current campaign.

“Through working at Alma College over the last 14 years I have gained many experiences that will inform how I approach a position on the Alma School Board, including working with complex budgets, developing and implementing curriculum, serving on our Board of Trustees and working with students,” said Slaughter. “The biggest takeaway, however, is consensus building through seeking out a variety of voices on issues.”                                                     

In terms of what students on campus can do to get involved, Slaughter emphasized the importance of voting.

“I encourage students to get registered, get informed and vote their conscience,” said Slaughter. “I sometimes hear students say they aren’t planning to vote, sometimes because they don’t see themselves as political, sometimes because they don’t think it will make a difference. It absolutely will make a difference.”                                              

Running for the position of Alma City Commissioner is Bill Gorton, Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science.

“I’ve been sitting on the city’s parks and recreation committee and the zoning board for a while, and so I started to become familiar with some of the issues that the city faces,” said Gorton.                        

Some changes Gorton would like to make in his possible new role include converting the old Total Petroleum site into a solar array station, creating a commuter rail service, construction of a new bike path that connects the Meijer Heartland trail and the bike path along US-127 and more equitable funding for city parks.                                                                                                  

“The relationship between the college and the city is symbiotic — or, at least, it should be. The college is one of the biggest employers in the city and its students produce a lot of revenue for local business. In turn, the college benefits from being located in a vibrant, thriving city. We both depend upon each other,” said Gorton.                                                                                                  

Also running for the City Commissioner position is Drew Bare, the Assistant Director of Instructional Technology & Support Services at Alma College.

“I feel a calling to more service to the city of Alma,” said Bare. “I live in the city with my wife and kids and it’s important to me that we have people involved in our city commission who care deeply about the success of the city and are willing to work hard towards that.”                                                         

Bare has identified ways in which he as City Commissioner can improve Alma.

“In my door knocking over the past several weeks I’ve heard a lot of concerns including the poor condition of some of our streets, funding for the library, fair distribution of funding for parks and ensuring that the city maintains a reputation of being welcoming to new residents and businesses,” said Bare.                                                                                                                                                       “So much of what I’ve learned working for the college these past 16 years would carry over to being a city commissioner. My top priority in IT through all of these years has been to help develop a reputation for excellent customer service. Serving the residents of Alma would have a lot of similarities to serving the staff, faculty and students at Alma College,” said Bare.                    

The upcoming election is being held on Tuesday, November 8 and students are greatly encouraged to vote.

The pros and cons of being an education major

LEIA LEHRER
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

CLAIRE WITTLIEFF
STAFF WRITER

10/24/2022

Since I declared my major my freshman year at Alma College, I have been a Secondary Education/ English double major for going on three years now. In that time, I’ve completed one placement and am currently completing another, accepted a work study position within Gratiot County, taken what seems like a boatload of education credits and have become President of the Education Club. You could say I’m rather involved with the education department and all things education related. 

Over the course of my time here at Alma, I’ve heard multiple things regarding the pros and cons of being an education major from my peers. Ash Holland (’23) said that there are both ups and downs to the major. 

“Some pros of being an education major are being part of an amazing community of people and the feeling of being supported and able to ask as many questions as needed,” said Holland. “I like how we have a lot of placement opportunities before we student teach.” However, Holland also recognizes the cons of being an education major. “A con of being an education major is being busy especially when doing a placement. Many times, education students have to drive to do a placement and it is a major time commitment to achieve,” said Holland. An overall change that is suggested to be made is to have students complete less “busy work” and a larger focus on assignments regarding teaching, such as creating lesson plans. 

Dr. Brian Hancock, an Assistant Professor of Education at Alma College, is happy with the work being done within the education department. “The program is nationally recognized and our faculty and clinical partners do an amazing job at preparing well- started teachers who are ready to do great work with Pk- 12 students,” said Hancock.

“The changes to our education program offerings are in-line with the new requirements from the state of Michigan and, especially important for the Pk-6 major, now include a clinical placement in a classroom during the first year of study,” said Hancock. Dr. Hancock also shared some advice for students. “I always encourage education students (and all students, for that matter) to take advantage of any and all travel opportunities during their time at Alma College. So much of “good” teaching is being responsive to students needs and interests and is not scriptable within a curriculum. We collectively can learn so much about ourselves and others when we visit new places, and it’s important to take advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves,” said Hancock.

As an education major, I greatly sympathize with other students in the field as I have worried about driving to and from placements, about completing my hours in a timely fashion and awaiting acceptance into the Teacher Education Program since some of the requirements do not fit the content area in which I am going into.

With this being said, I have had an overall positive experience with the education program here at Alma. I have enjoyed going into classrooms early in my years here so that I can determine whether or not teaching is what I truly want to pursue. I have endless gratitude and appreciation to the education department faculty, for they are always willing to answer any questions I may have as well as instruct classes that have given me new perspectives about my field. 

I additionally love being President of the Education Club as I get to connect with members while also acting as a bridge between student and faculty communication.

In conclusion, I commend my fellow education majors that are passionate about what they do. I believe the pandemic has been one of the greatest examples of how overlooked and overworked teachers are, and just how much we impact our students.

When I went to New York City this summer, I bought a pin in Central Park that reads “Teacher Power”. A dear friend of mine asked what that meant. After thinking about what it means, I took a few notes that I would like to share with you now.

Teacher power is inspiring students to become the best version of themselves. It’s acting as a role model when there’s no one to look up to. It’s providing stability when the home life of a student is rocky. 

It’s supporting them when there’s no one to hold them up. It’s motivating them to get what they want out of life and to not let go. It’s shielding students from gunfire.

It’s the bookmark my teacher made me that I use to this day. It’s the sympathy cards I received when my grandfather died. It’s the conversation I recently had with one of my past English teachers. 

It’s every hug I received at my high school graduation and every conference my parents attended. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I could take care of every single child in the world, I would. And that’s teacher power. 

Lockhart Chemical Company Controversey

WESTON HIRVELA
GRAPHIC DESIGNER

CLAIRE WITTLIEF
STAFF WRITER

10/3/2022

In July of 2022, the Lockhart Chemical Company located in Flint, Michigan, was identified as releasing discharge from a storm sewer due to a main breach. As of September 19, 2022, the company has been ordered to stop the usage of their wastewater and stormwater conveyance systems, which have been proven defective.    

The news of the spill is an additional tragedy contributing to the Flint water crisis, in which lead from aging pipes exposed around 100,000 residents to high lead levels after failure from officials to apply corrosion inhibitors. The order was authorized under Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. Three months after the spill, thousands of gallons of waste oil have been collected.

According to WNEM of Saginaw, the Lockhart Chemical Company was operating under a cease and desist letter from the city of Flint, ordering the company to not discharge any liquid waste from their on-site tanks into the city’s sewer system.                                                                      

“As a citizen of Flint who grew up blocks away from the Flint River and was a teenager through the time of the water crisis, it’s extremely frustrating to see this repeated disregard for not only the health of the citizens, but the health of the local environment as well,” said Audrey Plouffe (’23)

Dr. Amanda Harwood, an associate professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, also shared her thoughts on the matter. “Unfortunately, this is just another example of a company violating their operating permits. [Enviornment, Great Lakes, and Engery (EGLE)] and now the Attorney General are doing what is in their legal power to stop these violations and prevent further ones,” said Harwood.    

“If people are concerned about continued violations and continued risks to humans and the environment, the best thing they can do is make their voices heard publicly by elected officials. One simple way to do this is to vote for candidates who support stronger environmental regulations and their enforcement.”

The state of Michigan claims that they are committed to helping Flint recover from the public health crisis. Michigan has provided more than $350 million to the city of Flint, along with $100 million from the federal government that supports water quality improvements, pipe replacement, food and educational resources, healthcare, and job training and creation.    However, there are many more ways that action can be taken besides providing monetary support, including raising awareness around the situation in Flint and voting for officials that insist on creating change in the upcoming election.

“When things like this happen anywhere, not just in Flint, the culprits would far rather it be forgotten and brushed aside, but we have a responsibility to ourselves, others, and the world we live in to not let that happen,” said Plouffe.

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