Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Welcome to Two New Contributing Editors!

It is with great pleasure that I welcome two new Contributing Editors to the Law School Academic Support Blog. Please join me in congratulating them on their editorial positions. They will begin posting next week, and all of us can look forward to their contributions and insights over the coming weeks.

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Oscar J. "O.J." Salinas, Clinical Associate Professor of Law Academic Excellence Program at University of North Carolina School of Law.

His faculty profile is here.

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Kirsha Trychta, Teaching Associate Professor and Director of Academic Excellence, at West Virginia University College of Law.

Her faculty profile is here.

I am also delighted that Goldie Pritchard (Michigan State) and Scott Johns (Denver) will be continuing as Contributing Editors for another year. Their posts have informed and inspired us all - not to mention garnered several Top Ten Blog Posts Awards.

We bid farewell to Alex Ruskell (South Carolina) as a Contributing Editor and thank him for his multiple-year service to the Blog with his witty posts and cartoons. We wish him the best as he leaves our editorial staff.

If you are a regular reader, sit back with a cup of coffee and read the Blog each morning. If you are new to the Blog, I hope you will become a regular visitor to the site and consider subscribing. (Amy Jarmon)

June 24, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Scott Johns Has Another Winning Post

TexasBarTodayTopTenBadgeScott Johns has been recognized for his June 15th post on winning bar exam answers by Texas Bar Today. You can read his post that made the Top 10 here: Winning Bar Exam Answers: Writing for Points or Writing to Impress?. Congratulations, Scott!

June 22, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Congratulations to Scott Johns - another top ten award

TexasBarTodayTopTenBadgeCongratulations to Scott Johns for his top ten award from Texas Bar Today for his June 1st post on bar review learning. His post can be found here.

June 13, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Veteran ASP Spotlight: Jendayi D. Saada

Thank you for reading the May Veteran ASP Spotlight series! There are a few pending requests so you might see a few more spotlights but the Veteran ASP Spotlight will officially return next year. If you have beloved Veteran ASPers who were not featured this year, then kindly send me their names. A heartfelt thank you to all of the ASP Veterans who shared experiences and wisdom! My hope is that ASPers are reminded of why they do this work and re-energized for bar season and the new academic year. Please note that other members of the ASP community will also be featured here in the near future.

Today’s featured spotlight is Jendayi Saada. I met Jendayi at my first ever National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) Academic Support Conference when I was three months into the start of my ASP career. We both coincidentally sign-up for the same restaurant and our group walked, talked, and laughed that night. At that conference, I also met several other colleagues but Jendayi and I both realized that we had ties to Michigan. Jendayi has a wealth of knowledge, is always open to learn, and is deeply committed to the success of the students she works with. To reiterate what I have said before, when I grow up, I want to be as amazing as she is (Goldie Pritchard).

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Q: Please indicate your full name, title and institution of employment. 

Jendayi D. Saada

Assistant Dean of Academic and Bar Readiness and Assistant Professor

La Verne College of Law

 

Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.

I began in ASP in 2004 as an instructor at Nova Southeastern University. As an instructor, I helped create a multiyear academic support and a post-graduation bar preparation program. Since 2009 I have developed ASP and Bar Preparation programs at three additional law schools in Florida, Arizona, and California. My teaching areas have included both skills and doctrine.

I have always had a passion for teaching and have taught in various fields for about 34 years. I fell into legal education because I was moving from Michigan to Florida. I had closed my law practice to chase the sun. I was just looking for a job until I could pass the FL Bar Exam and go back to practicing. I was hired at Nova and that was that.

 

Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most?  What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?

The aspect of ASP I like the most is working with students to help them realize their dreams of becoming an attorney. I especially enjoy working with those students who, due to their race, ethnicity, disability, gender, first generation status, etc., question whether the dream is possible for them, and watching the transformation that occurs when they succeed.

My greatest challenge by far is the stubborn refusal of the faculties and administrators in legal education, to recognize the value that academic support and the professionals who are committed to student success.

 

Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?

Students’ metamorphosis into amazing lawyers 

 

Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or mid-career ASPers or law students?

Let your moral compass be your guide and your passion, the engine that drives you to your destination. Don’t stop for hitchhikers!

 

Q: Is there anything else you deem necessary to share (quote, encouragement, inspiration, visual, etc.…)?

Keep learning, pushing, growing.

May 31, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Veteran ASP Spotlight: Amy L. Jarmon

Amy Jarmon is among other things, Editor of the Law School Academic Support Blog. I cannot recall the circumstances surrounding my first encounter with Amy but she is a staple of the ASP community. I have seen her at practically every ASP conference I have attended and often see her name associated with various ASP committees and programs. I have enjoyed serving on committees with her and appreciate the wealth of knowledge she has to offer. I am thankful for her willingness to help whenever I have a question or reach out for assistance or advice. I am also grateful to her for my opportunity to join the Law School Academic Support Blog family. I am a little unconventional with my posts but she has put up with me all year long. I am glad to showcase Amy because she was not featured in the highlight of the Law School Academic Support Blog editors. Finally, it is coincidental that she is spotlighted the week of the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) annual conference in Texas. She has been spotted at the AASE conference so you can meet her in person. (Goldie Pritchard)

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Q: Please indicate your full name, title and institution of employment. 

Amy L. Jarmon

Assistant Dean for Academic Success Programs and Lecturer

Texas Tech University School of Law

 

Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.

My initial interest in ASP work came from two sources. First, my previous career was in student affairs with undergraduates where I worked for many years in a bridge position between academic affairs and student affairs. Second, my Ed.D. and J.D. degrees with my teaching and law practice experiences allowed me to fit naturally into helping law students succeed academically and prepare for practice.     

I have been involved in ASP work at law schools for over 15 years. Thirteen of those years have been here at Texas Tech; previously I was at University of Akron School of Law.

 

Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most?  What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?

I most enjoy working one-on-one with students. It is a joy to help students improve their study strategies and life skills and to see them reach their true academic potential in law school.

Greatest challenge: Many students want to do well in law school, but come into this environment with weaknesses in critical reading, thinking, and writing and in efficient, effective study strategies. Many prior educational experiences only asked them to memorize information rather than to grapple with understanding or applying that information.

Overcoming the challenge: Flexibility within a plan is important. I start with assessment and then use a repertoire of strategies to address succeeding in law school while gaining life skills for legal practice. Although I know the strategies that work for most law students, I always keep an open mind. I modify, discard, and brainstorm with each individual student to find out what works for that person. I regularly learn new “mental connections,” strategies, resources, and more as I work with students; those new ideas or techniques become tools to help future students. 

 

Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?

For students: I want my legacy to be that I cared about students individually and was there to encourage and support them. I believe in their personal worth whether or not they flourish in law school or ultimately decide to practice law after graduation.

For colleagues: I want my legacy to be that I was a colleague who shared my knowledge and experiences freely to better the ASP profession and to support colleagues.

 

Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or mid-career ASPers or law students?

New ASP’ers: Reach out to others in the ASP profession for assistance. Unlike some professions, this one thrives on sharing ideas, materials, and advice. ASP’ers have a tradition of giving a hand-up to newcomers. Also, remember that you cannot implement everything overnight. Decide a small number of priorities to tackle first, and then shamelessly ask others for Power Points, syllabi, handouts, and more.

Mid-career ASP’ers: Beware of burnout! Most ASP’ers are “givers” and easily become over-involved, over-utilized by their law schools, and overtime-prone. If you are not careful, you will be overwhelmed. Remember to pace yourself, to say “no” or “not now” sometimes, and to set aside time away from the office to relax and revive.

Law students: Realize there are a zillion strategies that your ASP professional can show you for conquering law school. It is okay if you do not know how to do something, feel overwhelmed at times, or are unsure how to fix things. The important thing is that you commit to learning how to improve and ask for assistance early and often.  

 

Q: Is there anything else you deem necessary to share (quote, encouragement, inspiration, visual, etc.…)?

During my ASP career, I have been blessed with many opportunities. However, during challenges, I depend on my faith to get me through those dark times. I always remind myself that the most important words of praise to hear at some future date are: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

May 24, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Veteran ASP Spotlight: Louis Schulze, Jr

Louis should be excited because he is featured here twice in two weeks (once for his scholarship here and now)! I first met Louis at one of the conferences I attended early on in my ASP career. He led a discussion surrounding an article he had written and at the time, was seeking feedback. The discussion included comments and questions about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). I also had an opportunity to work with Louis briefly during my tenure as chair of the programming committee for the Academic Support Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Louis was reliable, kind, and very helpful. I seem to always remember positive words and feedback sent in my direction from anyone far and near, and Louis is one of those whose feedback was very kind and therefore remembered (Goldie Pritchard).

Q: Please indicate your full name, title and institution of employment.

Louis Schulze

Assistant Dean and Professor of Academic Support

Florida International University College of Law

Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.

I’ve been in the academic support field for about ten years, starting at New England Law | Boston for seven years and a bit over three years here at FIU Law. I started teaching in the legal writing field and found myself wanting to do more for students who underperformed. It frustrated me that many of these students weren’t struggling due to a lack of diligence or intelligence but because they had less training in critical thinking or effective learning skills. Because that lack of training seemed correlated with socio-economic status, I was particularly motivated to do what I could to help level the playing field to promote students’ success.

Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most? What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?

Anyone who has seen me teach knows that I act like a fool in the classroom. I try to bring an energy that connotes genuine enthusiasm for the material. (This isn’t in any way fabricated; I’m a complete law nerd. If they sold trading cards of SCOTUS justices, I’d be one of those people who gets the whole set, including COA, etc.)

I try to keep things fairly light in the classroom and then all of a sudden get really intense, pushing the students to do more and give better answers. Because the levity precedes the intensity, students seem more comfortable when I push them harder – they know it’s coming from the right place.

Also, personally and professionally, I get immense joy from fostering students’ success. My favorite time of year is when grades come out and I hear from my students who got through the first year despite incredible odds. It’s always an awkward moment for my colleagues in my corridor when I start bellowing the chorus of “We Are the Champions” at the top of my lungs because I heard that a student made it above a 2.00 or passed the bar. But, because being in ASP means being half professor, half coach, we have the best of both worlds and, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), the best job in the legal academy.

Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?

That I made it through my whole career without anyone noticing that I’m a completely unqualified rube. (Ooops).

Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or mid-career ASPers or law students?

IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), one can serve students best by maintaining a balance between being emotionally invested in their success while at the same time remaining objective. Having a professor demonstrate a genuine personal investment in a student’s success can actually have a far more powerful impact on that student than I ever realized. On the other hand, for some students the best advice might be an austere and somewhat shocking message that is both difficult to give and difficult to receive. Academic support professors need to be empowered to give both types of advice based upon the needs of the particular student. If a law school does not provide that sort of empowerment, the academic support will be less effective.

Q: Is there anything else you deem necessary to share (quote, encouragement, inspiration, visual, etc.…)?

Bart

May 17, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Veteran ASP Spotlight: Barbara McFarland

I was introduced to Barbara McFarland at my very first Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Annual Meeting, several years ago. Barbara was very kind and welcoming to this new ASP professional. Also, she offered much assistance when I sought best practices and other materials for a new course for students who are considered “at risk” after the first semester of law school. I modified and used some components of the materials she shared which ideally complemented the course I teach. Barbara is very humble in sharing her accomplishments and contributions to academic support so I would urge you to read her biography on her law school website (Goldie Pritchard).

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(Barbara McFarland is pictured here, far right)

Q: Please indicate your full name, title and institution of employment.

Barbara B. McFarland

Director of the Office of Student Success Initiatives & Assistant Professor

Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law

Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.

I started doing academic support work 20 years ago (or maybe more) as an overload while teaching legal research and writing at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. I came to Chase in 2006 to continue that combination of positions, but in 2007 the Dean moved me into a full-time position in academic support. A year or two later, he added bar support to my duties.

Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most? What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?

While I am fairly proficient at programming for students from the top to the bottom of the class, the thing I think I do best is to convince students that they CAN do the work in law school, pass the bar exam, and competently practice law. The biggest challenge in being a one-person office responsible for as many as 500 students in the building is finding time to accomplish the important tasks that keep getting bumped back behind the urgent tasks. I have NOT overcome that challenge, unfortunately.

Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?

My former students are my legacy, especially the ones that might not have graduated from law school or passed the bar without some support and guidance.

Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or mid-career ASPers or law students?

If one student per year sends an email or stops by to tell you thank you for what you do, hang on to that positive message; it will get you through another academic year!

Q: Is there anything else you deem necessary to share (quote, encouragement, inspiration, visual, etc.…)?

While I do not believe that everyone admitted to law school will or should succeed, I do believe that we—the law schools—owe every admitted student the opportunity to do his or her best work.

May 10, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Veteran ASP Spotlight: Rodney O. Fong

You may consider this entry and future ones “self-serving” but please stay tuned. When my ASP mentor recently left the profession, I thought it might be a splendid idea to highlight a few “veteran ASPers” while they are still active in the profession. After conversations with a few colleagues, I decided to start highlighting a few individuals I view as “veteran ASPers.” I encountered these highly experienced individuals at certain points of my ASP journey which began almost ten years ago. Each contributed to my success by helping me in small or significant ways and shared their wisdom, experience, and advice. I deemed it expedient to streamline questions rather than ask them anything and everything I could have possibly wanted to know. It is impossible to highlight everyone so I am starting with a select few, Rodney O. Fong being the first.

Rodney O. Fong is an awesome individual. I was first introduced to him by my former law school Dean who suggested that I contact him for advice, direction, and possible mentoring. He responded to my email message which was followed by a great phone conversation. I admire his commitment to diversity, student success on the bar exam, and desire to help new professionals. Please learn about him below. (Goldie Pritchard)

Fong

Q: Please indicate your full name, title and institution of employment.

Rodney O. Fong

Co-Director of Law+Plus and Bar+Plus Programs & Assistant Professor of Law 

University of San Francisco School of Law

Q: Please briefly describe your ASP work including length of time associated with it and what initially stimulated your interest.

I switched from practice to teaching because I love teaching and counseling people. Also, I found that practicing law limited on the number of people I could help, namely my clients.  But by training more people to become lawyers, I could indirectly help more clients in our communities.

My law school had a formal academic support program and I was a student in the program as well as a tutor during my last two years of school. I started teaching in 1990, focusing on academic support and, in 2005, I formally added bar preparation.

Q: Which aspect(s) of ASP work do you enjoy the most? What would you consider your greatest challenge thus far and how have you overcome the challenge?

I love the challenge of figuring out how to better prepare our students. First it was putting together workshops and lesson plans focusing on IRAC and study skills. Then I delved into education and learning theory exploring ways to teach students more effectively. Next, it was figuring out how generational differences affected our Gen X and Gen Y students and that continues today with unraveling the effects of helicopter parenting. More recently, I have been working on applying socio-psychological theories and creating reduction and intervention strategies.

My greatest challenge has been helping law schools transition from input measures, like LSAT and UGPA, to output measures, such as graduation rates, bar passage, and employment. Law schools are now being evaluated on how well we teach our students and what they are learning, hence the ABA requirements for establishing student learning outcomes and formative and summative assessments. Unfortunately, changing the law school culture has been slow and painful. But schools that have been able to fully integrated academic support into their teaching and learning culture tend to be more successful.

Q: What do you want your professional legacy to be?

I have two things that I am equally proud of. First, I am proud of all the students that I have been able to help become lawyers, especially those from underrepresented groups and first generation students. They are now in the profession assisting clients and making an impact on our communities. I am also proud of helping the students who decided not to become lawyers. Law school and practicing law is not for everyone. But if I was able to help someone in their decision to leave law school and still maintain their dignity and confidence, then that is a success. Many of these students go on to become successful in other fields.

The other thing I am proud of is helping a law school overcome low bar performance to retain its ABA accreditation. It was not a matter of tutoring a few students to pass the exam, but changing the culture and attitude of an entire institution. When the bar results started to improve, you could feel the change in attitude and confidence within the school and that is something I will never forget. To hear students proclaim that they want to do better than the class before them was amazing, especially when a couple of year before, they doubted if they could even pass the exam.

Q: What motivational advice or encouragement would you offer to new and/or mid-career ASPers or law students?

For my ASP colleagues – Changing institutional cultures, attitudes, and behaviors is a process that takes lots of time and patience. Also, timing is critical. An institution may not be ready for change. But when it is, you have to be ready and prepared to lead.

Q: Is there anything else you deem necessary to share (quote, encouragement, inspiration, visual, etc.…)?

My favorite quote during this time of law school uncertainty is a Chinese proverb: “Chaos – where brilliant dreams are born.”

May 3, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight, Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Top Ten Blog Post

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Congratulations to Amy Jarmon for receiving a Top Ten Blog Post badge from the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for her April 18th posting. The link to her post is here: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.

April 22, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Top Ten Blog Post

TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_SmallCongratulations to Amy Jarmon for receiving a Top Ten Blog Post badge from the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for her March 7th posting. The link to her post is here: A West Texas Perspective on What Matters.

March 27, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Another Top Ten Blog Post

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Congratulations to Scott Johns, our Contributing Editor, for recognition by Texas Bar Today of the Texas State Bar for his top ten blog post! In case you missed his February 23rd post, A Matter of The Heart: Moving Forward in the Midst of the Bar Exam Wait, you can read it here: here.

March 13, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Compilation of Reader Comments and Emails

We periodically gather some comments from our readers to share on the Blog. Here are some responses and conversations that we have had over the last several months:

Marsha Griggs (Texas Southern ) shares her idea in response to Goldie Pritchard's A Wall of Inspiration post on February 22nd: "I do something similar via Facebook. I have a private FB group set up for our bar takers. Each day of bar study, I send motivational pictures, quotes and positive affirmations. The response is overwhelmingly positive." 

Don Macaulay (Pipeline to Practice Foundation) sent a link to their website in response to our announcement of the Inaugural AASE Conference on Diversity: http://www.pipelinetopractice.org/.

Rod Fong (U of San Francisco) and I had a nice email exchange after my February 19th post on Rediscovering a Sense of Purpose. Rod shared two links that may interest readers who have not seen them: Angela Lee Duckworth's Ted Talk on Grit (Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance) and Eduardo Briceno's Tex Talk on Growth Mindset and Success (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN34FNbOKXc). Rod also observed: "I combine the grit and growth mindset with two other social-psychological theories, belonging and stereotype threat.  I find these four work together well. The other thing I'm noticing in students is that grit and growth mindset don't work well if the students are not good self-regulated learners.  Without this skill, they seem to think that just doing the work, like going through the motions, is enough to learn and study. . . . They don't realize that it takes energy to assess their work and properly correct their mistakes." 

Otto Stockmeyer (Emeritus Western Michigan) gave some historical insight on IRAC following Goldie Prichard's January 13 post on Dr. Martin Luther King: "The Letter from the Birmingham Jail," and IRAC?: "Michael Josephson, who founded a bar review course in Michigan in 1991 which became one of the country's largest within 10 years, emphasized IRAC in the essay-writing portion of his course. He attributed IRAC's origin to the U.S. Army. According to him, the Army developed IRAC at the outbreak of World War II as a method of teaching problem-solving to a flood of new recruits. Whether or not IRAC helped us win WWII, it made Josephson a millionaire." 

Otto Stockmeyer (Emeritus Western Michigan) also commented on Alex Ruskell's Weapon of Choice post on January 13th: "My experience counseling poorly performing students has been that 60% of the time they change right answers to wrong ones. Of course, they are presented with more wrong choices, so that may explain part of it. Also, it may be a characteristic of poor performers and not universal." 

Thank you to our many readers who post comments for the editors after reading our posts. We have a policy of not posting comments publicly because of the amount of spam comments that are received by the Blog. Please know that we appreciate hearing from you. (Amy Jarmon)

March 5, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Two Top Ten Badges Earned

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Two of our Contributing Editors received recognition from the State Bar of Texas Texas Bar Today for their posts near the end of last semester. Congratulations to Scott Johns and Goldie Pritchard for recognition of their posts! Scott's post can be found here: Chewing the Cud: Should You Be the Tortoise or the Hare in Exam Prep. Goldie's post can be found here: Exams Are Coming.

February 28, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Meet Goldie Pritchard, Contributing Editor

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I am Goldie Pritchard and I love what I do!  I recognize that it is quite rare for one’s passion and proficiency to intersect but please do not think that I am not challenged on a regular basis. I serve as one of two Co-Directors of the Academic Success Program at Michigan State University College of Law (MSU-COL) and as Adjunct Professor.  I have worked at MSU-COL for seven and a half years now and had the unique opportunity to create and establish the academic support program we currently have which is now an integral part of the law college.  I started as Interim Director and later became Co-Director providing general academic support and bar exam preparation support.  As an adjunct professor, I teach Effective Legal Analysis and Process, a 1L course and Problem-Solving in Contracts, a bar preparation course.  For approximately two and half years, I served as Director of the Legal Education Opportunity, a conditional admission program MSU-COL no longer offers.  When I was a law student, my mentor encouraged me to enter the academic support workforce but I resisted for a period of time.  Who knew that years later, this would be the best professional move for me.

I also serve as advisor to the Black Law Student Association and participate in various support programs lead by the Diversity Services Office and targeting students of color.  For my own professional development, I strive to stay engaged with the Academic Support Section of Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) by serving on committees.  I had the opportunity to chair the ASP section program at AALS one year and to present at AASE another year. 

Writing for the Law School Academic Support Blog has been a rewarding experience for me thus far.  It gives me an opportunity to reflect on what I do, how I do it, how to maximize impact with limited resources, and how to best engage students in their learning.  I am very grateful for this opportunity.

January 31, 2017 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Meet Alex Ruskell, Contributing Editor

Alex Ruskell

Alex Ruskell is the Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at the University of South Carolina School of Law.  He received his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and has degrees from Washington and Lee University, Harvard University, and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.  He is the author of A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student and editor of Strategies and Tactics for the Finz Multistate Method, Strategies and Tactics for the First Year Law Student, Steve Emanuel’s First Year Questions and Answers, Strategies and Tactics for the MPRE, and several other educational and legal publications.   In a review of his wife’s first book, FumblingThe National Catholic Reporter noted "Alex is a saint.  Seriously.”  He is also the lead guitarist of Columbia, SC’s most sartorially challenged punk band, The Merry Chevaliers.

 

December 6, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard on a Top Ten Honor

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard for being chosen for a Top Ten Blog Posts by Texas Bar Today for her post Hidden Duties of Aspers.

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November 22, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Meet Scott Johns, Contributing Editor

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Scott Johns serves of Law as a Professor of the Practice of Law and Director of the Bar Passage Program at the University of Denver Sturm College.  Twice per year during the bar exam seasons, Scott runs a post-graduate Bar Success Program helping graduates develop the confidence and the competence to pass the bar exam.  The program’s focus is on active learning through substantive problem-solving workshops and mock bar exams to include individual feedback for numerous writing projects.  During the academic terms, Scott teaches primarily in the field of Legal Analysis Strategies with additional periodic courses on Constitutional Law Individual Rights, the First Amendment Religion Clauses, and Immigration and Asylum Law. Previous to the University of Denver, Scott got his start in academic support in Southern California teaching first at Whittier Law School as an Associate Professor and Interim Director of Academic Support and Bar Passage and then at Chapman School of Law as Director of Academic Achievement. 

Prior to academics, Scott served as a law clerk in federal court and then worked as an immigration litigator and national security attorney within the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.  Prior to law school, Scott served as a pilot and flight safety officer in both the U.S. Air Force and the airline industry.  Surprisingly, Scott’s formal pedagogical training about active learning occurred in preparation for his assignment as a military instructor pilot teaching undergraduate pilot training for aspiring Air Force aviators with coursework in educational psychology, curriculum and design. 

Outside teaching, Scott has dabbled in empirical scholarship with a recent article evaluating whether bar passage interventions were statistically beneficial and a second article examining whether the bar examiner’s claim, namely, that bar exam rates are historically down, was in fact empirically due to declines in LSAT scores.  Empirical Reflections: A Statistical Evaluation of Bar Exam Program Interventions, available at http://louisvillelawreview.org/printcontent/54/1/35/scott_johns-empirical_reflections_statistical_evaluation_bar_exam_program_interventions; Testing the Testers: The National Conference of Bar Examiner’s Claim and a Roller Coaster Bar Exam Ride, available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=284241 

Outside law school activities, Scott enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and participating in church activities with his family.

November 15, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sad News: Death of Dan Bernstine, LSAC President

Many ASPers have been involved with LSAC committees, workshops, and other aspects over the years. Below is an announcement regarding the sad news that LSAC's President, Dan Bernstine, has passed away.

Dear Colleagues,

I apologize if you have received this sad announcement more than once. It is with overwhelming sadness that I have the unfortunate task of telling you that Dan Bernstine, President of LSAC, has passed away at his home. As soon as we have more information about arrangements, we will communicate that information to you.  

While our concern right now is with helping all of Dan's friends and colleagues to deal with his loss, I want to assure you that the Board and I have complete confidence in the senior management team that Dan built.

Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Susan

SUSAN L. KRINSKY
Chair, LSAC Board of Trustees

September 27, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Paula Lustbader: 30 years of Academic Support

Last week was the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Seattle University School of Law’s Access Admission Program, the Academic Resource Center, and Professor Emerita Paula Lustbader. I am an alumna of Seattle University and the few times I return to Seattle typically have something to do with Professor Lustbader. My cultural background dictates that I remember and honor those individuals who have paved the way for me. I look to them for guidance, wisdom, support, and history. For me, Professor Lustbader is one of these special individuals.

I started writing this entry prior to the celebration and surprisingly, the themes I identified aligned with the remarks and conversations at the celebration. The themes I had identified and those that emerged at the celebration included legacy, family/community, and paying it forward. I was excited to realize that I had it right but recognized that I could not include all of my observations.

In my opinion, Professor Lustbader is a pioneer of the Academic Support Movement. I imagine that very few formal academic support programs existed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a student at the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law), Paula Lustbader had a desire to promote diversity at the law school and in the legal profession. She was recruited by Professor Emeritus David Boerner and together, Professor Boerner and student Lustbader designed and began to implement the various components of their program. Today, Seattle University School of Law boasts of one of the few true “Access Admissions Programs” in the country which is not only a testament of the institution’s commitment to social justice and diversity but also a reflection of the commitment of Professors Boerner and Lustbader to this program. I can assure you that the story is more amazing and exciting than this but you had to have been at the celebration to capture the full story. Please follow this link for Professor Lustbader’s 2010 article about this program: here

Professors can have a profound impact on the lives of their students particularly if they take the time to listen and pay attention to their students. Professors can sometimes perceive a student’s potential before the student can even conceive of her/his ability. This particularly happens when the learning environment lends itself for students to be their authentic selves which would indicate that trust has been established.

The presence of numerous former students and individuals who gathered to celebrate Professor Lustbader and the program is a testament to the positive impact the Access Admission Program and the Academic Resource Center have had on these students. In attendance were both students from the early years of the program and current students who just started their 1L year. Individuals flew in from as far as Hawaii, Texas, Michigan, and Florida just to list a few. Former teaching assistants, faculty, and staff who contributed in some way to the program were present. It was a joyous occasion that brought together individuals unified by the impact of two key individuals (Professors Boerner and Lustbader) and a shared experience with this program.   

I feel very privileged to have gotten to know Professor Paula Lustbader as a professor, supervisor, mentor, and friend. She discovered my potential early on and challenged and supported me even when I resisted.  I credit her for seeing the “Academic Support Educator” within me long before I thought of this as a career option. I look forward to the many amazing things she accomplishes in this next phase of her life.

The Anniversary Celebration has reenergized me, helped redefine my purpose, and led me to reassess my passion for the professional work I do. I am contemplating a number of things: What is our legacy as academic support professionals and educators?  Do we constantly reinvent the wheel simply because we want to put our imprint on something or do we recognize when something works?  Do we learn from those who came before us who fought and won the battles we now find ourselves trying to fight?  Are some of us young and so too proud to ask for help and too "all knowing"?  Are we truly an inclusive community that practices what we preach and embodies the ideals at the foundation of Academic Support Programs?  Is it at the very least helpful to assess our own hang-ups and challenges? These are all pertinent questions I am asking myself and hope to connect with like-minded individuals to explore them. (Goldie Pritchard)

September 14, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight, Diversity Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Congratulations to Scott Johns

TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_Small (002)

Congratulations to Scott Johns! He was a awarded a Top Ten Badge by the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for his August 25th posting Alone . . . or Perhaps . . . Not Quite So Alone as 1L Students?

September 4, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)