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Northern Virginia Community College wants to close the achievement gap, and its new vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer has a plan.

Eun-Woo Chang started work in July by visiting all six campuses and meeting with staff. His job is to take charge of NOVA’s academic initiatives, and says that the college’s ADVANCE program, which allows for a smooth transition to a four-year degree at George Mason University, will be expanded with advisors to help Hispanic students.

“This is going to be a model,” Chang told ALXnow in a recent interview. “If we are successful, we are going to implement this to the other ethnic groups, as time goes.”

Grant funding will help, Chang said, as NOVA has secured millions in grants for the project from the U.S. Department of Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. NOVA has also received $40 million from the Virginia legislature to expand its health and trades programs.

With 72,000 students spread across its campuses, NOVA was forced to up its online offerings during the pandemic. In-person classes resumed in August 2020, and a lesson learned from the experience, Chang said, was to increase availability for Zoom classes.

“Forty percent of our classes are in person, 40% of percent of our classes are in a Zoom environment, and virtual classes make up 20% right now,” he said. “We anticipate that virtual online format is going to grow even more.”

All of this is part of NOVA’s adherence to the Virginia Community College System’s Opportunity 2027 Strategic Plan. NOVA’s graduation rate last year was 29%, a 2.6% increase over year before. Approximately 64% of students in NOVA are minorities.

Chang, who was previously in academic leadership at Ashland University in Ohio and Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, moved to the area in 2008 when he was hired as a program director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation.

He also says that having First Lady Dr. Jill Biden teaching at NOVA helps the school’s profile.

“It’s an honor for us to have her as a faculty member here,” he said.

Chang says longevity is the key to his success.

“As long as they don’t kick me out, I’ll stay here,” he said. “The longest serving provost has been here more than 15 years. And then the shortest serving provost is five or six years. So, there is a longevity, and that’s why we are successful.”

Photo via NVCC

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Morning Notes

City phones undergoing maintenance this afternoon — “FYI: Most City government phone numbers will be unavailable 3-6pm on Wednesday, Sep 15 due to system maintenance. Emergency 9-1-1 and police non-emergency numbers will be unaffected. 311 and 703-746-4311 numbers will be unaffected.” [Twitter]

Police looking for man missing since August 28 — “Abdulkarim Godah, 36, was last seen at his home in the 300 block of Yoakum Parkway. He is described as 5 foot 10 and 150 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.” [Patch]

Virginia Department of Health says measles cases came from Afghanistan — “Out of an abundance of caution, health districts in northern Virginia are informing people who were at various locations listed below during the specified time frames, that they may have been exposed to one of three people diagnosed with measles. These individuals recently traveled from Afghanistan as part of the United States government’s emergency evacuation efforts.” [VDH]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy skies (during the day). High around 90F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph… Overcast (in the evening) with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly during the evening. Low around 70F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Fitness center assistant at Northern Virginia Community College — “Under directions of the fitness center supervisor, this position will assist with the daily operations of the fitness center, provide answers to general questions, and explain policy and procedure to new/current members. Assist with opening and closing the fitness center. Check patron’s identification on daily basis. Monitor faculty, staff and students in usage of the equipment. Clean fitness center and equipment area on daily basis. Assist fitness center supervisor with intramural activities.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

First Lady Jill Biden is teaching at Northern Virginia Community College — “Starting the week of Labor Day, Biden will be spending every Tuesday and Thursday for 13 weeks on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), according to a class schedule available to students.” [Washington Post]

ACPS needs crossing guards — “Volunteers are needed immediately to help our elementary students get to school safely due to a shortage of crossing guards. Can you help? If so, complete this volunteer application!” [Twitter]

Chinquapin pool reopens — Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility staff members are thrilled to welcome back customers! Following an extended summer closure for facility improvements, the center is now open for public use. For more information, visit alexandriava.gov/12352. [Facebook]

DASH sets up pop-up teams outside bus stops — “Our pop-up teams are still out at stops throughout our network and ready to help you make your trips on the #NewDASHNetwork or answer your questions. Come see us!” [Twitter]

Here’s the calendar for dog swims at Alexandria pools — “Treat your pooch to an end-of-summer dip in a City of Alexandria public pool. Alexandria Annual Dog Swims allow friendly dogs of all sizes to enjoy swims on Saturday, September 18 from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Warwick Pool (3301 Landover St.) and on Sunday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron St.). Tickets are required for all dog handlers to attend.” [Zebra]

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum needs volunteer tour guides — “Training is free but completing this online application is required. Following submission, a staff member will make contact to provide more details.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy (during the day). A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 87F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph… Thunderstorms during the evening followed by occasional showers overnight. Low 67F. SSW winds shifting to NW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 90%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Temporary bilingual COVID-19 vaccine promoter — “The Vaccine Promotor(a)/CVN will engage with residents of underserved communities to provide education about COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination. The Promotor(a) will work with Neighborhood Health’s COVID-19 Outreach team to plan an overall outreach strategy and provide support to other vaccine-related activities.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Alexandria government drops mask requirement — “Starting on June 15, fully vaccinated visitors and employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear a mask or practice physical distancing in City of Alexandria government facilities. Individuals who wish to wear a mask or practice physical distancing may continue to do so. Those who have not been fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask and maintain six feet of physical distancing in city government facilities.” [Patch]

Captain Gregory’s eyes expansion — “The popular spot is expanding, looking to add about a dozen more seats… They’ll make use of unused kitchen space and likely complete the additional space by the fall.” [Alexandria Living]

How NOVA’s esports program found unexpected success during the pandemic — “NOVA’s players come from throughout the region, but all 51 of them are united by their passion for and skill in video games.” [Alex Times]

Today’s weather — “Mostly sunny skies. High 88F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy in the evening with more clouds for later at night. Low 71F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Child watch attendant — “The YMCA Alexandria invites you to apply for the Child Watch Attendant position. We are looking for a responsible and fun candidate to supervise the children and all activities by creating a fun, enriching, and safe environment for all children.” [Indeed]

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Governor Ralph Northam was in Alexandria Monday to sign into law a $72.5 million initiative making tuition free for low and middle-income students who pursue high-demand jobs.

Northam was flanked by democratic legislators today when h announced at Northern Virginia Community College that funding for his “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative (G3) has been approved. The legislation was initially announced in 2019 but funding was held up doe to the pandemic.

“It’s almost like if our children don’t go to a four year college or university they’re not going to be successful,” Northam said. “But I’m here to tell you today there are thousands of jobs out there and they don’t necessarily require a four year college education.”

The G3 program, which goes into effect on July 1, allows students who quality for full Pell Grants to get $1,000 grants per semester and $500 during the summer to receive a certificate for studying health care, information technology, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education and public safety. Participants will be required to give back two hours of community service, public service, or work experience for each credit hour in which they are enrolled.

Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said that the initiative is important for vulnerable populations.

“This initiative of G3 is really important for the Commonwealth,” he said. “This is really transformative because it is addressing wraparound services for the most students who are most vulnerable and have high needs, and financial fragility issues.”

Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy said that the effort will help students compete in a changing marketplace.

“It’s really about making sure that we can fill our jobs, making sure that we can wrap our arms around the students and make sure they can complete,” she said.

Glenn Dubois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, said that the impact of the day could not be understated.

“This is a really big day,” Dubois said. “It’s the biggest day in my career. It’s probably the biggest day since we were established (more than 50 years ago).”

Photo via Northern Virginia Community College/Twitter

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Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC, though the school also calls itself NOVA), which has a campus in Alexandria’s West End at 5000 Dawes Avenue, has announced that there will be some in-person classes this fall when classes resume on Monday, August 24.

“While much remains uncertain about the future impacts of COVID-19, NOVA has outlined safety considerations for limited on-site instruction, services and operations during the fall semester,” the school announced on its website. “This plan is grounded in a commitment to follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines for COVID-19 safety.”

Alexandria City Public Schools has put forward a plan to go online-only, with few exceptions, and NVCC said the majority of its classes will be virtual as well. Computer labs, libraries, bookstores, the business office and parking will remain open, but with limited capacity.

Some classes, like, will require in-person instruction. According to NVCC, these include:

  • Automotive Technology
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Engineering Technology
  • HVAC
  • Nursing
  • Workforce Development

“For more hands-on classes that require a physical presence at NOVA, the College is using an individualized approach to identifying and implementing safety controls in a deliberate and sensible manner,” NVCC said. “Safety planning surveys were used to gather detail of what instruction or service will occur in each classroom or area and any unique dynamics or considerations involved. CDC and VDH guidance for physical distancing, the College evaluated each space, measured distance between seats, reviewed instructional areas and prepared plans and configurations to maximize a six-foot distance, to the extent possible.”

The school is requiring that students, faculty and staff complete an online training module that includes information about COVID-19.

Campus events and meetings have also been cancelled, as is the school’s fall athletic season.

Photo via NVCC

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Morning Notes

Regional Program Awarding 11 Grants to Local Businesses — “The Governor is authorizing $87,619.00 of funding to the Alexandria/Arlington Regional Workforce Council, through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, for employers eligible to remain open during the COVID-19 emergency. Period of performance is from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020.” [Twitter]

Beyer to Host 5 p.m. COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall — “I’ll update you on my work to support the public health response and minimize the economic damage, hear from a local public health official, and take your questions.” [Twitter]

NOVA Launches Emergency Student Aid Fund — “Northern Virginia Community College is dedicated to doing everything in its power to keep students in school to complete the current semester and continue progress toward their degrees. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to assist NOVA students during this challenging time.” [Zebra]

YMCA Giving Out Free Food For Kids — “Free meals contain 3-days’ worth of breakfast and lunch. Meal boxes can be picked up weekdays Monday through Friday from 10 am to 2 p.m. For produce packets, the pick up times at Mondays 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. Any child, regardless of their affiliation with the YMCA, may pick up boxed meals two times per week – children must be 18 or younger.” [Zebra]

Fire Department Recruits Finish Training — “Congrats to Recruit School 49 who finished training last week. To avoid a large gathering, we postponed their graduation ceremony. As they report to their assigned stations, we just want to say we’re proud of them, and we’re happy to have them as part of our Fire & EMS family.” [Twitter]

Animal Welfare League of Alexandria Suspending Adoptions — “We are currently booked for adoption appointments through Wednesday, March 25, and we will be suspending adoptions after that time.” [Zebra]

Deli Expands Carryout and Delivery Menus — “Market 2 Market Del Ray is expanding their carryout & delivery menu to include key grocery items — produce, dairy items, meats & cheeses, and bread — in addition to beer, wine, and the best deli sandwiches in the neighborhood!” [Facebook]

Virtual Peer Support Group Launching — “In the current climate of uncertainty and social distancing, Del Ray Psych & Wellness unveils a new 30-day Facebook-based support group, ‘Connection Without Infection.'” [Facebook]

Visit Del Ray Lists Open Restaurants and Shops — “Curbside pickup with gloves and a smile at Junction Bakery & Bistro. Latest updates on restaurant statuses…” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

Senior Communities Taking Extra Precautions — “In Alexandria specifically, we are screening visitors as they come in the door. We’re checking temperatures, [and] doing questionnaire work.” [WAMU]

NOVA Shifts to Remote Learning — “With growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, Northern Virginia Community College, NOVA, is shifting to remote learning for all students beginning March 18. All classes will be cancelled March 16-17 to allow for the transition, according to a statement from the school.” [InsideNova]

Lost Boy Cider Posts Covid-19 Protocol — The microbrewery posted on social media a number of measures it’s taking to protect customers from the coronavirus, including a “Fresh air intake system [not recirculating],” and the assurance that all surfaces are being cleaned with anti-viral agents per shift. [Instagram]

Senior Services of Alexandria Gala Postponed — “SSA’s top concern in all things is the health and well-being of Alexandria’s older adults and those who support them. We feel that any risk, no matter how small, is not worth the potential consequences given the populations we serve.” [Zebra]

Chamber Extends 40 Under 40 Deadline — The annual program recognizes 40 outstanding leaders and innovators under the age of 40 living or working in the city, and the nomination deadline has been extended from March 13 to March 20, 2020. [Chamber of Commerce]

Port City Brewery in Running For USA Today’s Top 10 — “We have been nominated by @USATODAY for #BestBreweryTour on the @10best list! Help us secure our spot and be named one of the 10 Best Brewery Tours in the USA! Voting ends March 17!!” [Twitter]

Alexandria Students Awarded By C-SPAN — “Amal Sharif, Alex Conkey and Ben Janusz, students at T.C. Williams High School are honorable mention winners and will receive $250 for the documentary, ‘Which Side of the Story Will You Be On?’ about asylum seekers. Andrew Caslow, a student at Episcopal High School, is an honorable mention winner and will receive $250 for the documentary, ‘America in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.'” [Zebra]

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Morning Notes

Patch Editor Dies After Cancer Fight — “William ‘Skip’ Wood, of Alexandria, Virginia, died on Sunday, Oct. 6, after a battle with cancer. He was 57. A longtime journalist and Virginia resident, he covered parts of Northern Virginia for Patch over three years, and was well-known nationally for his reporting at USA Today.” [Patch]

Alexandria Man Charged With Classified Leaks — “A counterterrorism analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency has been charged with leaking top-secret details about foreign countries’ weapons systems to two journalists, including a reporter with whom he apparently was romantically involved, federal authorities said Wednesday. Henry K. Frese, 30, of Alexandria, Va., ‘was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information.'” [Washington Post, Wall Street Journal]

NOVA Names New Prez — “Northern Virginia Community College has named its new president. Anne Kress, one of three finalists in a national search, has been selected to lead Virginia’s largest college as its sixth president, Virginia’s Community Colleges announced Wednesday. Her appointment takes effect at the beginning of next year.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fall Family Fest This Weekend — “Celebrate the change of seasons at the City of Alexandria’s annual Family Fall Festival on October 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Armistead L. Boothe Park (520 Cameron Station Blvd.). The festival is free, with activities that include scarecrow building, inflatables, pumpkin painting and entertainment. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.” [City of Alexandria]

Del Ray Farmers Market Cookbook — “To mark the recent 25th anniversary of the Del Ray Farmers’ Market, founded by Pat Miller, Charles Buki, Karen Johnson, Dennis Areeder, and Gayle Reuter, the vendors and volunteers have assembled a commemorative cookbook.” [Zebra]

Bullying Allegations at Alexandria-Based NSF — “A union representing employees at the National Science Foundation demanded Monday that the agency take action to hold managers accountable for acts of bullying, sexual harassment and retaliation against LGBT employees.” [Government Executive]

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