Monthly Archives: November 2017

Spotlight on Kendall Charles of RIT/NTID’s ‘The Story of Beauty and the Beast’

Three performers in costumes, two at right and left indicating to the one in the center, a dark-skinned male. all are smiling.

Kendall Charles is a fourth-year computing and information technologies major from Opelousas, La., who is adopting the role of Beast in NTID’s production of The Story of Beauty and the Beast. Charles has enjoyed acting and theater since elementary school, but he didn’t start being consistently involved with theatrical productions until last year. Last year, he was featured in three productions through NTID: Fairytale CourtroomDanceTale and The Crucifer of Blood. In addition to his love for theater and dance, Charles enjoys playing volleyball and basketball and is involved with several organizations on campus. He is the copy interpreter for the NTID Student Assembly, works at the NTID Learning Center as the senior learning center assistant lead and is in the process of becoming a fraternity brother of Sigma Nu.

This production of NTID’s The Story of Beauty and the Beast is unique from other interpretations of the story. Instead of conveying the fairytale verbally, the cast will tell the classic love story through a variety of dance styles, sign language and other non-verbal expressions. The production premiered at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Robert F. Panara Theatre. There will be shows starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov 11, and one show starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.

To purchase tickets for the event, go to https://rittickets.com/Online/default.asp.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: RIT perfectly embodied what type of college I was looking for. It covered all three of the things I was looking for when applying to schools. First, it’s a college that is outside of my home state of Louisiana. Second, it merged two different worlds together: the deaf world and the hearing world. The third is that RIT is well-known for my major, so it would look good if I got my degree from here.

Q: Have you always enjoyed acting and being on stage?
A: Yes, I have always enjoyed acting and being on stage. Acting and performing are like my comfort zone from reality, a place that I can escape to. It’s also a huge stress reliever when I’m on stage, so that is an added benefit.

Q: Beast is an iconic role; what was your reaction when you found out you got the part?
A: My reaction was a mixture of emotions. I was shocked, thrilled and, of course, nervous.

Q: Do you get along well with Belle and the rest of the cast?
A: Yes, I do get along well with everyone. Of course, every play has a little tension between the cast members because of all the stress we have about the show and our classes, but at the end of the day, we all get along. We want to make the play as successful as possible and make sure to work together so it will be great.

Q: Do you have any fun moments from rehearsals that you can share?
A: Oh yeah, definitely. At the start of every rehearsal we begin with a warm-up dance and exercise and that is really fun. We are allowed to dance any way we want to, so we can be silly or serious. The exercise gives us time to bond together. I also like that we all share our skills with each other to help each other improve. For example, someone might show someone else how they dance so that person can improve their dancing skills.

Q: Playing Beast typically involves wearing some extensive makeup and prosthetics, is it hard trying to work in such an elaborate costume?
A: You should come to the show and see the Beast costume yourself! I don’t want to spoil anything, but all I can say is that all of our costumes are actually lighter than most other Beauty and the Beast costumes. Because we are all dancers and need to move around a lot, the costumes needed to be flexible and easy for us to dance in. They are very cool and, thankfully, easier to move around in than you would think.

Q: Do you have any rituals or habits that help you prepare to perform?
A: Before rehearsals, I always do the warm-ups and exercises to get myself loose and ready to perform. I also review all the dances and lines before I show up to the rehearsal to make sure I’m prepared and hopefully won’t make any mistakes.

Q: What is your favorite part of the production as a whole?
A: It is a spectacle and a rich experience. I love building a bond with everyone involved with the production. I believe that having a bond with everyone involved with the production, from cast to tech crew, makes the distinction between an amazing production and a beyond-amazing production.

Q: What are your plans for after graduation?
A: I would like to eventually go back and get my master’s degree in business once I’m ready to start school again. Until then I want to find a good company to work at that understands my goals of eventually returning to school.

RIT/NTID investigating ways to enhance learning for deaf students beyond notetaking

Center of photo is a female with short hair and glasses in maroon sweater with hands in sign language shape as two others watch.

As a deaf student majoring in psychology, Joshua Mora looks for ways to enhance his learning in scientific environments that are traditionally composed of hearing peers and faculty.

In order to fulfill his and other students’ needs for diverse methods of information dissemination and a greater understanding of learning styles within the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, a new project has been launched—one that uniquely connects hearing and deaf communities and will result in effective STEM learning for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Since this past spring, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Faculty Learning Communities program has been developing training and “accessibility toolkits” for faculty in STEM disciplines who are searching for viable ways to adapt their teaching methodologies to accommodate the learning needs of their deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The communities—facilitated by hearing and deaf faculty pairs in similar disciplines—brainstorm alternative learning ideas, propose experiments, and test the efficacy of the alternatives.

Sara Schley, director of NTID’s Research Center for Teaching and Learning and principal investigator, said the project, which was funded through a three-year, $443,200 grant from the National Science Foundation, combines faculty engagement in instructional change, universal design for teaching and learning, and student-centered pedagogy that all ultimately enhance inclusiveness within the classroom. Co-principal investigator on the grant is Stephanie Cawthon from The University of Texas at Austin.

“Faculty members who teach deaf and hard-of-hearing students may assume that notetaking services and interpreting services, for example, are tools that sufficiently provide an adequate learning environment,” Schley said. “While these services certainly assist the students with their learning, we’ve found that there are many other ways that instructors can adapt their teaching styles to enhance the learning environment for our students. This project is meant to provide relevant information to our faculty in a supportive way.”

One Scenario

Schley cites one example. Inside the classroom, faculty may explain complicated STEM concepts by showing slides while sign-language interpreters translate the information to a deaf student. However, it’s extremely difficult for deaf and hard-of-hearing students to look at slides while watching an interpreter. This often results in the student missing valuable dialogue and classroom interaction.

In the scenario mentioned above, added Schley, faculty may experiment with pausing after showing a slide or writing on a white board and checking for “eyeballs” in order to be sure that students have finished reading the information and are ready to shift their focus back to the instructor or the interpreter.

Students like Mora, a fourth-year student from Fremont, Calif., who view this project as an opportunity for them to thrive in RIT’s rigorous educational setting, are serving in mentorship roles—valuable resources for hearing faculty who are encouraged to seek feedback and perform “dry runs” on potential strategies. Mora also believes the project offers a forum where an exchange of ideas will increase student engagement.

“If a teacher has concerns about how to make curricula accessible, we are available to provide guidance,” he said. “This project has a direct impact on student engagement and motivation in the classroom, and I think it will ultimately encourage more deaf and hard-of-hearing students to enter STEM fields with confidence.”

Schley sees a steady progression in the advancement of the initiative. RIT’s Teaching and Learning Services, a unit of the Innovative Learning Institute, is developing a “toolkit” website that can be readily accessed by faculty looking to expand their instructional methodologies. And as the project develops over the next few years, Schley said that the learning communities will be asked to investigate applications using more advanced technology such as “flipped” learning. In this case, faculty might add cues for students that encourage them to pause and review a graphic explanation after seeing a captioned explanation.

Individualized Instruction

Robert Garrick, a manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology professor in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology, teaches future engineers using a technology-rich, interactive learning environment with hundreds of instructor and student videos in a classroom with 10 interactive projectors.

“I am especially interested in this project to understand how we, as instructors, can improve accessibility with the emerging multimedia tools we use,” said Garrick. “Our teaching and accessibility techniques are hopefully evolving as quickly as our technology tools in order to provide individualized instruction while giving continuous feedback to each student based on their needs.”

Jennifer O’Neil, assistant professor of mechanical engineering technology, joined the RIT faculty in 2016. While she has always focused on building course work around different teaching pedagogies that promote improved student learning and engagement, she felt that her participation in this project would sharpen her skills working with a diverse and unique student population—RIT’s deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

“I am continuously striving to improve my teaching effectiveness,” said O’Neil. “Before I was faced with any challenges in the classroom, I decided to join the learning community to learn alternative strategies to improve student engagement and retention, but more importantly to make meaningful changes in the classroom that would enhance the learning experience for all students.”

Schley added that, simply put, the project is about the best way to engage in collaborative learning because there are many different kinds of learners in the same classroom.

“We’re helping our faculty to take a little more time to think about meeting the needs of their students and designing activities that don’t depend on a particular channel of information. This is about good teaching.”

On the Web

Access and Inclusion Project: http://bit.ly/NTIDaccessibility

Saunders College online MBA among top in Princeton Review rankings

Brick building exterior with steel awning and center pole. Students with orange backpacks and benches in foreground.

Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology ranked eighth in the “Top 25 Online MBA Programs for 2018.”

Saunders College online Executive MBA program also earned high placements the past three years since the inception of The Princeton Review’s comprehensive rankings of online MBA programs in 2015.

“The online Executive MBA is a signature program of Saunders College and we are pleased that its reputation continues to garner exceptional rankings,” said Saunders College Dean Jacqueline Mozrall. “Guided by an innovative and dedicated program staff, our outstanding faculty provide a rich and engaging learning environment for our cohort-based online Executive MBA experience.”

The result of The Princeton Review’s third annual ranking of the top 25 online MBA programs for 2018 is available at www.princetonreview.com/best-business-schools along with FAQs about the basis for each ranking, including detailed profiles of the schools.

“As more students embrace online MBA options, the caliber of both students and programs has greatly improved, so it is especially gratifying to see recognition at the national level of our students’ commitment to their own professional development, as well as evidence of our faculty’s high-touch engagement with their students,” said Martin Lawlor, director of the Executive MBA program at Saunders College.

According to one Saunders online Executive MBA student, “This is an intense program that prepares students with unimaginable leadership capabilities,” while another mentioned, “innovation, product management, marketing and analytical” skills as part of the program’s strengths.

Saunders’ online Executive MBA program was cited by students for its “well-known, rigorous and accelerated program” that delivers 47 credit hours in 17 months of study, an international immersion trip that is “a huge benefit to attending RIT,” and “real-life courses and assignments” culminating in a capstone project where students serve as consultants to actual businesses. “A whopping 50 percent” of graduates reported receiving a promotion while attending the program.

Saunders College is accredited by the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and offers the Executive MBA program with flexible scheduling options and access to a dedicated MBA career services advisor, as well as free lifetime access to RIT’s Career Services.

Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review, said “Top business schools now offer online MBAs and employers do see them as credible and valuable. For working professionals unable to move to a ‘brick and mortar’ campus for an MBA, these schools offer an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best b-school professors and earn the degree from anywhere in the world.”