2020-2021 Innovation of the Year Award Finalists: Maricopa Community Colleges

Chandler-Gilbert Community College

Base Camp: Essentials for Instruction in Multiple Modalities

The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (CTLA) at Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC) responded to the success gap between courses delivered online and those delivered face-to-face by creating a four-day, 16-hour training to provide faculty with the essential tools and skills for teaching in any modality. Focusing on four areas of faculty development—outcomes, objectives, alignment, and organization; student engagement; measuring learning; and instruction—Base Camp: Essentials for Instruction in Multiple Modalities has demonstrated an immediate positive effect on the quality of instruction, and a longer-term influence on new and existing faculty development efforts at CGCC. Despite initial development to address the needs of students during the COVID-19 crisis, the principles provide a mechanism to continue positively influencing the development and delivery of high-quality instruction for years to come.


  • Lesley Cryderman, Online Learning Coordinator, CTLA
  • Juliet Crocco, Course Production Coordinator, CTLA
  • Mary McGlasson, Faculty Liaison, CTLA
  • Jennifer Peterson, Faculty Liaison, CTLA
  • Hayley Steinberg, Instructional Program Developer, Maricopa Center for Learning and Innovation (District Office)
  • Jeremy Tutty, Teaching and Learning Director, CTLA

District Office

Dynamic Forms for Tuition Waivers

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) offers paid tuition to eligible employees, as well as their spouses and dependents, for credit-bearing courses taken within the district. Prior to 2020, the process of utilizing a tuition waiver as payment for course fees required submission of the form either by email, fax, or in person to the respective college cashier. A district audit of the waiver process established that the waivers were not filled out correctly. In addition, different versions of the paper form were circulating throughout the system, causing frustration for students and the need for Student Business Services representatives to find and follow up with students to process the correct form. The dynamic forms process centralizes waiver submission, allowing students to access the benefit and fiscal agents to process requests for payment via an online platform. This facilitates workflow efficiency and eliminates lost forms.


  • Danay Bell, Paralegal, Public Stewardship
  • Yoel Lopez, Fiscal Supervisor (Rio Salado College)
  • Rene Martinez Davila, Bursar (Scottsdale Community College)
  • Holly Rouse, Business Systems Analyst
  • Teresa Toney, Director, Public Stewardship
  • Julie Wright, Manager, Student Business Services (CGCC)

GateWay Community College

Integrated Healthcare Immunization Clinic and Resource Fair

MCCCD students are required to complete several health and safety documents before enrolling in a healthcare program. These documents can take weeks to complete and are costly. A large demographic of MCCCD’s student population is underinsured or uninsured, and health and safety costs are a huge barrier for students enrolling in healthcare programs. High costs of immunizations and health and safety requirements limit access and can take students months to complete. The Integrated Healthcare Immunization Clinic and Resource Fair at GateWay Community College provided low-cost alternatives to students by increasing available resources and removing barriers for enrolling healthcare students, which, in turn, increased access to programs. The free resources and immunization clinic are open to the public, and leverage resources through partnering and collaborating with industry partners.


  • Jennifer Kline, Program Manager, Healthcare
  • Rochelle Rivas, District Director, Healthcare Education (District Office)

Glendale Community College

Fostering Student Success With Psychological and Emotional Resilience Training

We are currently dealing with a troubling completion problem in community colleges. Since we are unable to pinpoint a single cause for poor completion rates, the solution needs to focus on taking care of the whole student. Unfortunately, current educational efforts have failed to address students’ underlying mental health and emotional problems. As a solution, we developed a resilience and well-being program called Psychological and Emotional Resilience Training (PERT), delivered in the CPD 180 classroom. The goal of our PERT curriculum is to foster resilience and well-being, thereby enhancing student learning and academic performance, and increasing completion rates. Individuals who have taken a course using the PERT curriculum have shown improvement in standardized assessments. They also report renewed commitment to their academic goals.


  • Thomas E. Rojo Aubrey, Residential Faculty, Counseling, and Director, Behavioral Health
  • William Beverly, Residential Faculty, Counseling, and Director, Behavioral Health (South Mountain Community College)
  • Lynn Mizzi Brysacz, Residential Faculty, Counseling
  • David Gerkin, Residential Faculty, Counseling
  • Sarah Padelford, Residential Faculty, Counseling
  • Andrea Scherrer, Residential Faculty, Counseling (Scottsdale Community College)
  • James Wilson, Residential Faculty, Counseling

Mesa Community College

New Online Resource: Online Lab to Thunderbird Tech Studio

The online lab at Mesa Community College (MCC) was created to help students in CIS105 and BPC110 prepare for online classes, then expanded to create promotional materials and provide easy access lab support to Maricopa Information Technology Institute – East Valley (MITI-EV) workforce initiatives. It has since developed into the Thunderbird Tech Studio, a campuswide resource available to students outside of the Computer Information Systems (CIS) department. This new resource provides advanced technical support to students and instructors struggling with issues related to online learning. Inspired by the online lab, the CIS department is currently developing the CIS Virtual Front Office. Upon completion, it will serve as a new online resource that will aid students in enrollment and general departmental questions using similar features as the online lab.


  • Laura Ballard, Director, E-Learning
  • James Bowles, Network and Systems Administrator, Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Melissa Carpenter, Director, Foundations for Student Success
  • Samantha Malaki, Staff, CIS Lab
  • Diane Meza, Director, MITI-EV
  • Liz Murphy, Administrative Specialist, CIS
  • Bethann Partin, Residential Faculty, CIS, and Director, Occupational Program
  • Tyler Rowles, Staff, CIS Lab
  • Deanna Smith, Staff, CIS Lab
  • Angeline Surber, Chair, CIS
  • Michael Voss, Dean, Career and Technical Education
  • Autumn Williams, Staff, CIS Front Office
  • James Williams, Staff, CIS Lab
  • Stephanie Williams, Manager, E-Learning

Paradise Valley Community College

JOINS: Service Learning in STEM

Paradise Valley Community College’s Joint Outreach Initiative for National Science (JOINS) program allows college STEM students to explore a career in STEM education through service learning. Elementary students are paired with PVCC students to develop a project for the Arizona State Science Fair with the goal to expand STEM instruction, increase awareness of science education as a career, and elevate the college’s profile as supportive of STEM education in the community. This raises the quality of learning by connecting college students to real-world STEM education. A written manual allows the program to be replicated at any school site. This program is the first of its kind in the PVCC STEM division. PVCC students indicated they developed compassion, new relationships, empathy, and an appreciation of the complex and rewarding nature of a career in STEM education.


  • Steve Kaiser, Community Liaison
  • Ilse Kremer, Professor, Biology
  • David Weaver, Faculty, Engineering

Phoenix College

Close2Home: Onsite, Remote Pandemic Technologies

The Phoenix College IT team creatively assembled and developed a platform that delivered a cost-effective technology service to all students and faculty, reduced the digital divide, and lowered entry while increasing access. IT staff leveraged existing licensing, collaborated with third party developers at no cost, and used open-source software and staff's existing skills. Close2Home, from concept to initial deployment, has been shared across MCCCD and expanded to five sister colleges. The solution combined Apache Guacamole, Sassafras, VMware, and a custom interface designed in-house and personalized to students’ academic programs with remote access through the Internet using a standard Internet browser with no specialized software, from a Chromebook, Windows PC/laptop, or Apple device.


  • Peter Kim, Technology Support Specialist
  • Brandon Larkin, Deputy Chief Information Officer
  • Symeon Larson, Network and Systems Engineer
  • Aron Love, Technology Support Coordinator
  • Jon Massey, Network and Systems Administrator
  • Scott Morken, Software Engineer
  • Paul Ross, Associate Vice President Chief Information Officer
  • Anton Spevacek, Chief Technology Officer

Rio Salado College

State Licensure and Certification Disclosures: Maps and CRM Automation

Prior to the July 1, 2020, federal deadline, colleges were scrambling to find solutions for notifying prospective and current students on whether their programs met the academic requirements for licensure and certification. This presented numerous challenges: Licensure requirements had to be researched; information needed to be presented in a consumable way for students and advisors; processes had to be developed to automate the disclosures; and the solution needed to be replicable for future programs. Rio Salado College achieved its goals of creating a visually appealing, high-quality solution; automating written disclosures for efficiency; leveraging resources for cost effectiveness; creating processes that could be replicated; implementing a creative solution that was both interactive and informative; and rolling out the innovation in a timely way to meet the federal deadline, through tableau mapping and automating disclosures in CRM.


  • Eddie Calderon, Web Manager
  • Aaron Coe, Quality Assurance Program Manager
  • Denise Estrella, CRM Systems Administrator
  • Karol Schmidt, Dean, Institutional Effectiveness and Innovation
  • Jalae Ulicki, Program Analyst Senior

Scottsdale Community College

Guaranteed Grade System

We all work hard to create inclusive classrooms and minimize unconscious bias, but we cannot possibly relate to every single student. In addition, many community college students are the first in their families to go beyond high school. This can be intimidating and the pressure to earn certain grades can be demoralizing. The guaranteed grade system was developed to remove these impediments so that students can focus on learning with confidence. Students can choose a grade track (A, B or C) for their course. They chose the track that best first their personal circumstances, and are guaranteed to earn that grade as long as they do the work. The system is straightforward and can be replicated in almost any course. The students who have experienced the guaranteed grade system have given it high marks for quality in terms of fairness and effectiveness.


  • Mark Barton, Residential Faculty, Business

South Mountain Community College

Design Jams: Collaboratively Solving Problems

Design Jams are a mini-think tank to build solutions in a short period of time while invoking the participation of the entire community. Design Jams include silent, analytical, hypothetical, and collaborative brainstorming. The Design Jam process produces unexpected solutions with action steps to implement immediately. The cocreating of ideas for the innovation of teaching and learning is producing great results while getting the whole campus involved in building solutions. For instance, Design Jams was used to a find solution for in-person CIS105 assessments. Students, faculty, and staff worked to "hack" CIS 105 assignments so students would be encouraged to use creativity when submitting evidence of their learning and understanding.


  • Jeannette Shaffer, Faculty Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Christopher Stevens, Faculty, Computer Information Systems
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