Meet the Academic Upgrading Faculty

the academic upgrading faculty at mohawk college

The Academic Upgrading faculty is here to help you succeed. Learn about our team below.

Lisa Alfano

lisa alfano

Subjects taught: Communications

What’s your favourite part about the program?
My favourite part about the program is that it helps to give students a fresh start in life as they pursue new goals. It is also very unique because it takes into account students’ individual needs using a personalized plan focused on their academic or employment goals while also providing the added bonus of workshops on communications and math related topics. 

If you could share one piece of advice with students, what would it be? 
My one piece of advice to students would be to stay focused on their goals and to reach out for help when they need it. There are many resources we can connect students to, both at the college and in the community. 

Best/favourite memory?
There are lots to choose from! Instead of picking one memory, I would say that one of the events I enjoy the most is the AU graduation ceremony that takes place at the end of each school year. It is exciting to see students who have worked hard achieve their AU goals and embark on another new phase in their lives. Their beaming smiles (and those of their proud friends and family) say it all!

What’s your favourite quote about learning? 
“There is a difference between not knowing, and not knowing YET” – Shelia Tobias

Lowrie Barry

Subjects taught: English and Math

What’s your favourite part about the program?
Everything, especially teaching the Deaf students and seeing them grow in learning!

If you could share one piece of advice with students, what would it be? 
Never give up – keep trying!

Best/favourite memory?
Christmas potluck!

What’s your favourite quote about learning? 
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn” – Xun Kuang

Rufus Bayley

rufus bayley

Subjects taught: Mathematics

What’s your favourite part about the program?
Watching learners attain their goals. 

If you could share one piece of advice with students, what would it be? 
Ask questions. If you do not understand something, ask questions. 

Best/favourite memory?
One of my favourite memories is a former graduate registering his son in AU to be taught Math by me. 

What’s your favourite quote about learning? 
“We learn from failure, not from success” – Bram Stoker

Patrick Cross

patrick cross

Subjects taught: Communications, Numeracy, Personal Development

What’s your favourite part about the program?
The diversity and varying goals of each learner. Knowing that each learner has a unique part is what helps keep the job interesting and enjoyable to see unfold as the learner progresses through the program. 

If you could share one piece of advice with students, what would it be? 
Patience is a virtue. It’s better to take your time and be sure you’re on the right path rather than to rush through anything because you want to finish something earlier. Rushing into a situation that you might not be fully prepared for can be an incredibly expensive mistake to overcome. 

Best/favourite memory?
Mentoring learners for their trips to Open House events at Galluaudet University or the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT. 

What’s your favourite quote about learning? 
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

Steven Lobodici

steven lobodici

Subjects taught: Environmental Sustainability and Academic Upgrading/Deaf Empowerment Assessor

What’s your favourite part about the program?
Having the opportunity to review each student’s intake assessment and learn about their goals during the follow-up interview is incredibly insightful. However, eventually observing the progress of those who register for the general education credit is the most rewarding experience I could ask for.

If you could share one piece of advice with students, what would it be? 
Come prepared to embrace the whole experience. At Academic Upgrading, we offer workshops, GED pre-tests, Mohawk College credit courses, and extracurricular experiences. It would be a shame to miss out on any of the free opportunities we provide to our students.

Best/favourite memory?
In an effort to bring awareness to the sustainability issues we face today, one of our AU students arranged for a screening of the documentary Home to be shown in the McIntyre Performing Arts Centre. This was a personal project she decided to pursue, and it didn’t come without its fair share of challenges. Initially, the student had to convince the Sustainability Office and McIntyre Performing Arts Centre that this was worthy of showing. Upon proving its warrant, the student was faced with copyright roadblocks. To mitigate this, she then connected with Yann Arthus-Bertrand – the producer of the film – directly and negotiated PPR (Public Performance Rights) with no cost to the College. The self-efficacy this student demonstrated while advocating for herself and the worthy cause is commendable, and something we try to foster amongst all Academic Upgrading students. 

What’s your favourite quote about learning? 
“Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Cheryl Richesin

cheryl richesin

Subjects taught: Communications

What’s your favourite part about the program?
The students are my favourite aspect of the program! The students' determination to succeed is amazing, and I love watching them gain confidence and soar over so many of their obstacles.

If you could share one piece of advice with students, what would it be?
Believe in yourself because you CAN succeed and reach your goals.

Best/favourite memory?
Remembering a student repeatedly sobbing in my office because her home/life obstacles were overwhelming, and then watching the glowing smile on her face when she walked across the AU graduation stage to receive her ACE Certification.

What’s your favourite quote about learning? 
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein 

Stephen (Steve) Scrutton

stephen scrutton

Subjects taught:  Mathematics

What’s your favourite part about the program?
Working with students in the classroom.

 

If you could share one piece of advice with students, what would it be? 
Rather than simply memorizing formulas, always strive to gain an understanding of the underlying principles of mathematics.  This will stay with you much longer, and help you apply mathematics across a much broader range.

Best/favourite memory?
One day a student lingered after class, and after all the other students had left she said to me, “I want to thank you for making math fun for me.  No one has ever done that before.”  I was somehow able to thank her despite the big lump in my throat.

What’s your favourite quote about learning? 
“Imagination is more important than knowledge” – Albert Einstein