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Columbia College's

Academic Wellness Educators    

Keeping Us Connected

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Keeping Us Connected                 

Volume 3, Issue 8, April '10


AWEStar of the Month


Vonna has been at Columbia College full time for 20 years, starting in 1990 after a few years of teaching Spanish part time at night.   She began as Instructor and Co-Coordinator of the State Department-funded CASS (Central America Student Scholarship) program. Vonna and Neil Mill coordinated the program for 16 young people from low income areas of Central America and the Caribbean.  For two years, Vonna taught them English as a Foreign Language and served as Mom and mentor. Participants were selected from among thousands of applicants to study Hospitality Management at Columbia. They came to the United States knowing hardly any English, stayed with host families in town, and in two years proudly earned Certificates, as well as a number of AA degrees.


Vonna Breeze-Martin

Vonna Breeze-Martin, Spanish Educator


Vonna has been involved in many unique teaching opportunities; another one was setting up a branch of the Spring International Language Center on campus, (with offices at the dorms). Young people, primarily from Japan, France, Monaco, Italy and Ethiopia, participated in an intensive English language program. During this same period, she began to teach a community ESL (English as a Second Language) class in Jamestown.



Vonna’s teaching career has encompassed coordinating stellar language programs, building a strong local ESL program, teaching regular Spanish transfer classes and currently teaching Spanish for the Community at the A-T/CAA offices in Sonora, where her students are Head Start employees as well as community members who work with Spanish speakers or who wish to travel.


Over the last few years, Vonna has continued to help develop the ESL program, which now includes classes in various sites around Tuolumne and Calaveras areas as well as on campus. Vonna is so grateful to the Basic Skills Imitative and A-T/CAA for supporting the development of this program.  A recent enhancement to the ESL program is a wildly successful GED Preparation class in Spanish, taught by Pietr Young and her cadre of dedicated volunteers, and a Citizenship class is currently in the works.  


Ever since early in her career, as Asst. Director of the Ethnic Studies program at Weber State University in Utah, a key motivator for Vonna has been her desire to  build bridges and pathways to higher education for unserved and underserved communities. Opening cultural and language doors so that her Spanish learners get a glimpse into other cultures has been another important goal for Vonna.   She remembers with awe when those doors were opened for her, first by her 9th grade Spanish teacher. Conducting her classes with a variety of experiences, and organizing excursions to Spain and Mexico have given students the opportunity to broaden their world view. She says that she doesn’t expect her students to learn Spanish fluently – that takes more than four semesters - but she does want them to be curious about other cultures, to desire to travel, to open up their eyes and ears to other cultures and perspectives.  Many of Vonna’s students have gone on to travel or to work in Spanish-speaking communities, even to become Spanish teachers. Vonna is so thrilled when they catch that bug and see how exciting it is to communicate across cultures.  She will miss that interaction with students.  


Our April AWEstar, Vonna Breeze-Martin is retiring this year.


Tutor's Corner





I have been a tutor at the Academic Achievement Center since the fall of 2009 and a library assistant since the spring of 2009.  I tutor in the subjects of English and History, but most often find myself in English-related appointments.  I enjoy the variety of different personalities I get to work with and the atmosphere the campus provides.  Ready to transfer this Spring, my plans were put on hold as I am one of the numerous students across California that has been affected by the California State Budget Crisis.  Which four-year university I am going to attend is still up for question, but I plan to major in Art History and minor in Film, with the intention of one day becoming a professor.  No doubt tutoring has given me some idea as to what working with students will be like.


Alex Craven

Alex Craven, AAC Tutor


The biggest issue I have come across from working with my peers/tutees is their apprehension when it comes to writing a paper.  A considerable factor I have found that plays into the anxiety is their unawareness of valuable resources, whether it is the text book, an MLA handbook, or articles in a periodical database.  Once these resources are made visible to the tutees, the session changes dramatically.  The students are focused, energized, and more confident in their ability to write a paper.  It is wonderful to witness their passion bloom once they set their pencils writing.


I would like to urge the faculty to share with their students the great advantages the Academic Achievement Center and Library has to offer.   



On April 13 & 14, 2010 AWE invited

Christine Perez, Slam Poet

to conduct workshops and a performance on the Tamarack Hall front terrace.



Slam Poetry Workshop with Christina PerezChristina Perez performing

Audience for Slam Poetry Performance



Congratulations on your Retirement!


Lynn Martin


Morgan McBride


Jerry Hodge


Linda Watkins


Guy Van Cleave


Vonna Breeze-Martin


Doris Goldson


Lanai Hallemeyer


Cyndy DuLaney


Elsie Bruno

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact Adrienne Seegers, Anne Cavagnaro, Alicia Kolstad, John Leamy, Lynn Martin, Karin Rodts, Craig Johnston or Melissa Colón. Check out the AWE Web site.