The MCTC News Blog

MCTC Interim President Calls on Community to Support Muslim Students

Posted on: November 16th, 2015 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

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The ISIS led terrorist attacks in Beirut, Baghdad, and Paris over the same twenty-four hour period last week leave me with deep feelings of sadness for the individuals who lost their lives and worry about those whose lives yet hang in the balance. Here at home, I am concerned that members of our Muslim community may become misguided targets for suspicion and retribution.

While none of us here is directly to blame for the terrible events unfolding in France, Lebanon and Iraq, how we respond to these events as they play out will define us as a community. Each of us needs to be thoughtful about how we choose to respond.

I urge you to keep the many victims of the attacks in Beirut, Baghdad and Paris in your thoughts and spiritual observances while reaching out to one another in support. Engage one another in conversation, console one another, and reach out to our Muslim brothers and sisters. Together, as one community, we will navigate through these difficult times.

In Peace,

Avelino Mills-Novoa
Interim President
Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Stephanie Glaros, Connecting with the Human Side of the Story

Posted on: November 5th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Stephanie Glaros

Stephanie Glaros’ interest in social justice began her very first year of college. That interest took her on a long and rich path to several colleges, states, jobs and, presently, to the faculty roster at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and the Humans of Minneapolis.

“I took a Women’s Studies class at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and it helped me connect the dots between what I had been experiencing and what were systematic problems,” she said. “It was like a bell went off in my head.” Stephanie began seeing parallels between women’s social justice and other systemic issues. “At that point, the greater concept of social justice became not just an interest, but a passion.”

After transferring, working and finishing college in the Rocky Mountains, Stephanie traveled, took short-term jobs and eventually found herself working in downtown Minneapolis as a marketing assistant. “I was being directed by finance-minded people, and what they were asking me to do didn’t make sense intuitively. But I had no design background, and no vocabulary to describe why what they were telling me to do wasn’t right.”
Stephanie looked into design classes, and found MCTC in her backyard. “MCTC offered night classes at a time when I was working days. I could afford it, and it was located downtown,” she said. “While I was a student here, something just clicked for me. Graphic design was a way to combine my creative side with my desire to organize things. I felt like I finally found what I wanted to do when I grew up.”

After finishing her degree, Stephanie joined the small staff of the downtown Minneapolis-based Utne Reader magazine as its art director. There, she found a way to connect her career with her passion. “My educational background and trade fit with my interest in progressive politics and social justice issues,” she said. “I was a one-person art department. I had the opportunity to sift through some of the best photojournalism in the world. I learned the power of photojournalism and storytelling.”

It was the perfect match for Stephanie. “My background in graphic design and passion for social justice issues shape my work. My goal is to capture emotional stories, challenge prejudices, and increase empathy.” On her walks to work—camera in hand—she began capturing the emotional stories of  strangers in Minneapolis. “I took photos of anything I saw: the homeless shelter, the Greyhound Bus station; I found myself passing the same people every day, but I’d never interact with them. We were outside of each other’s circles. That started to feel very strange to me, and I decided to use my camera as an excuse to break that barrier.”

In 2010, the blog Humans of New York began publishing its collection of street photography. Stephanie followed it closely, drawn to the way the photographs shone a spotlight on otherwise overlooked individuals in the country’s largest city. Not long after, she realized she was already meeting and photographing the humans of Minneapolis. In 2013, she started her own blog by that name, bringing her pastime in line with a growing national movement to engage communities in storytelling.

“When I realized that’s where my interests had taken me, something clicked: telling stories is what I love to do. It brings together my background of photography, editorial journalism, graphic design and social justice.”

In the midst of her career and personal and professional growth, Stephanie was approached by one of her former Graphic Design instructors at MCTC who was about to take a sabbatical. He invited her to teach in his absence. That was the year 2011, and Stephanie has been teaching future generations of graphic designers ever since.

Today, in addition to teaching courses and telling the stories of the humans of Minneapolis, Stephanie writes a regular column in Southwest Journal, and is working on a community engagement project for the City of Minneapolis.

“I’ve realized how much of myself comes through in my work—not only in who I talk to, but in the parts of an interview I select. I’ve learned to trust my gut, and trust who I can connect with.”

Help MCTC Students in Need on Give to the Max Day Nov. 12

Posted on: November 5th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments
Juan, MCTC

Juan, MCTC student and scholarship recipient.

On Nov. 12, Give to the Max Day, the MCTC Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar all donations up to $5,000.

“When you’re a father, a grandfather and a college student all at the same time—like me—you may feel like you have many reasons to drop out of school,” said Liberal Arts student and MCTC Foundation Scholarship recipient Juan Morales. “Thanks to the trust and generosity of people at MCTC, I’ll be able to succeed.”

MCTC welcomes students like Juan—students who have lived life, started families and come back to get a degree—as well as students right out of or still in high school. Many of our students benefit from the kindness and generosity of the greater college community—from people who have paid forward to help future generations of Minnesotans.

MCTC welcomes students like Juan—students who have lived life, started families and come back to get a degree—as well as students right out of or still in high school. Many of our students benefit from the kindness and generosity of the greater college community—from people who have paid forward to help future generations of the Minnesota economic and cultural workforce.

“If there’s a snowstorm and all you have in order to clear your driveway is a tiny shovel, it’s really difficult to get anywhere,” said Juan. “But if someone comes by with a truck and plows your driveway for you, it’s so much easier to keep moving forward with your life.”

Your gift clears the way for student success.

The MCTC Foundation, together with, is working to create opportunities for Minnesotans in need. Dollars raised during MCTC’s 2015 Give to the Max campaign will help provide emergency needs for MCTC students. This could include books, supplies, transportation, childcare —any cost that may hinder a student from staying in school. Best of all, you’re not doing this alone: the MCTC Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar all donations up to $5,000.

Please don’t miss your chance to maximize your gift on Give to the Max Day. Donate on Nov 12 or schedule your donation now, and be the difference in the life of a student in need.

Congratulations to MCTC Apparel Technologies Student Erica Sorenson!

Posted on: November 2nd, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Erica Sorenson modeling her design.

Congratulations to MCTC’s very own Erica Sorenson who won first place in a student design challenge. Erica is currently a student in MCTC’s Apparel Technologies program. She recently took part in the 2015 International Educational Conference of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals that was held recently at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Minneapolis. She also won a sewing machine, cash prize and membership to the organization. Congratulations Erica!


MCTC In The News: Start of A Transition at FAIR Downtown

Posted on: November 2nd, 2015 by marketingworkstudy No Comments
FAIR School Downtown started its first school year since a change in management to Minneapolis Public Schools from the West Metro Education Program.

The FAIR School in downtown Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis Community and Technical College campus is located just blocks from FAIR School Downtown, a K-12 school in downtown Minneapolis. The proximity provides students an opportunity to look to MCTC as both a choice for PSEO as well as after graduation. “Some FAIR Downtown students take advantage of the campus’ proximity to Minneapolis Community and Technical College to complete college-level coursework,” said FAIR School principal Kevin Bennett. The original story, available at this link, is posted in its entirety below.

Start of a transition at FAIR Downtown

October 6, 2015

By: Dylan Thomas

DOWNTOWN WEST — More than a week after the start of the 2015–2016 school year brought most Minneapolis Public Schools buildings back to bustling life in August, the hallways at FAIR Downtown School were still relatively quiet, with no students in sight.

A post-Labor Day start remained on FAIR Downtown’s calendar even though management of the school was transferred this summer to Minneapolis from the West Metro Education Program. It was just one example of how the downtown site serving grades K–3 and 9–12 remains distinctive in its new home district.

Principal Kevin Bennett said, for him, the most noticeable change may be that his district headquarters is now two miles away in North Minneapolis instead of just down the hallway from his office. For students and their families, the message from Bennett and the district is one of consistency and stability for at least the next four to five years.

“I think we’re working to keep the experience for students the same,” Bennett, who is beginning his 12th year at the school, said. “I would hope if students say that something is different, it’s been that we’ve been able to access (Minneapolis district) programs and personalize their learning experience for the better.”

But there has been change, including significant turnover in FAIR Downtown’s K–3 teaching staff since last school year. And for some parents, the unusual path FAIR students once followed from downtown Minneapolis to a sister campus in Crystal and then back again is now looking too uncertain.

Meanwhile, officials with Robbinsdale Area Schools, the district now running FAIR Crystal, have publicly discussed a change in grade configuration at that 4–8 school as soon as 2017.

Staff turnover and that uncertainty where both factors Jim Ramlet, a former member of the two schools’ PTO, cited for enrolling his two boys at new schools outside of FAIR this fall. Ramlet, who lives in Robbinsdale, said his younger son would’ve been entering his senior of high school just as Minneapolis’ pledge of four years of stability expired.

“You don’t want to be looking for another high school when your son is starting his senior year,” he said.

WMEP’s changing role

The West Metro Education Program was founded in 1989 as a way for its 11 member districts, including Minneapolis, to collaboratively work on school integration issues. Although it no longer manages the two FAIR schools, WMEP plans to continue offering professional development for educators.

The school boards of the Minneapolis and Robbinsdale districts acted last winter to take over management of the FAIR Downtown and FAIR Crystal, respectively. At the time, Interim Superintendent Michael Goar said the school’s K–3 classrooms “obviously” would be phased-out at some point, but pledged to “protect the program” at FAIR Downtown and transfer some of the lessons learned there to the district at large.

The shift in the schools’ management was formalized in June during a special legislative session.

Minneapolis district leaders plan to initiate a community engagement process around the future of FAIR Downtown this year, while at the same time continuing conversations with Robbinsdale about the future of the Crystal campus, Michael Thomas, chief of schools for the Minneapolis district, wrote in an email. For now, the schools continue to operate as an inter-district integration program, enrolling students from all 11 of the member districts.


Bennett, who this summer was one in a group of American educators invited on a five-city tour of China, said he’s interested in pursuing community partnership school status for FAIR Downtown. The designation gives Minneapolis schools greater freedom in setting their own budgets, staffing rules and curricula — even the lengths of the school day and school year — as long as they can show the changes are boosting student learning.

Bennett said the school already offers students unique learning opportunities through a “robust network of partners,” including downtown businesses like Target and arts institutions like the Hennepin Theater Trust. Some FAIR Downtown students take advantage of the campus’ proximity to Minneapolis Community and Technical College to complete college-level coursework.

Bennet said those partnerships, and the 500-student school’s relatively intimate size, continue to draw families. He estimated about half of the school’s students live in Minneapolis.

In 2014, the FAIR Downtown graduated more than 88 percent of its relatively small senior class, according to the latest figures available from the Minnesota Department of Education. The graduation rate for Minneapolis Public Schools that year was just less than 59 percent.

Not a seamless transition

Richard Spratt, the parent of both a current FAIR Downtown sophomore and a graduate of the school, mentioned that graduation rate when asked about the school. Spratt described the small campus as “a very caring community,” but said he wonders about the direction the school will go in now that it’s a part of the Minneapolis district.

“In a large system like that you lose control of a lot of things, and sometimes systems make decisions that have a negative impact on programs,” he said.

Kari D’Averill, whose son, Levi, is a grade 2 student at FAIR Downtown, said the transition has not been as “seamless” as the Minneapolis district promised. By D’Averill’s count, there was only one teacher on the school’s K–3 staff this fall who’d been there the previous school year.

Drawn to FAIR in large part by the relatively small size, D’Averill said she’d already experienced additional layers of district bureaucracy since the transition to Minneapolis. But as long as the leadership and office staff at FAIR remains in place, she added, “I still have great hope that the FAIR that was will emerge.”

“We’re committed to seeing it through until it doesn’t work,” she said.