Learning Centre adds two new faces to staff

With the retirement of Eva Henning and Beverly Haggerty from Fanshawe's Learning Centre have come some fresh new faces: Sharon Wang, the new full-time Math Technologist, and Gerry Drabick, the new full-time ESL Technologist.

Wang started her job as The Learning Centre's Math Technologist in mid-January. Her duties include helping students with math-related subjects, including physics, chemistry, accounting and finance — "whatever (problems) they have, we can help," she said.

Wang holds a Master's and a Ph.D. in Applied Math from the University of Western Ontario. "I have a background in researching math, finance," she said. "I was a major in mechanics — fluid dynamics and mechanics — so physics is something else I can help with." Wang has worked at Fanshawe for four years altogether, previously working in the Continuing Education department and teaching part-time.

She wanted to make it clear that everyone is welcome in The Learning Centre — not just students who are having problems. "You see lots of familiar faces ... (but) I haven't seen everyone yet," she laughed. "The Centre's not only for people who struggle maybe some people think, 'I'm not so bad that I need to get help.' The Centre is for people to improve, not just for those who are struggling." It can even be for people who get 80s, but want 90s, and for people who get 90s but want 100s, she said. "You can get help, even if you're very good already."

To get in touch with Wang, email her at swang@fanshawec.ca. You can drop by to see her for math help any time the Centre is open.

Drabick is new to the ESL Technologist position at The Learning Centre, having just started in early February, but he's no stranger to working with English as a Second Language students; he taught English in Japan for 10 years and for over 10 years in Korea. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from the University of Western Ontario.

"Quite often (in the Centre) we get students (who) have writing assignments and they have issues with things like grammar, vocabulary, those kinds of things," he said. "I look over the writing, give them feedback on how they're doing — you know, try to start with something positive so they feel good." He said he tries to focus on three main areas that need to be worked on in each writing sample, and he has handouts with information on sentence structure, organization of an essay and more. "They can work on that in their other assignments."

"I think it's a little intimidating for students to come in. It's like saying, 'I need help with this and I'm not getting what I need in my class. I want to get some extra support,'" he said. "In the Centre, I would certainly like to see more students coming in and getting this help. The Centre is really there for all the students — it's paid for by students' tuition — and so we want to make sure students are utilizing it."

Drabick is also in charge of conversation circles with ESL students. "It's a way for the students to use the English that they're learning in the classrooms, but in a more fun, casual atmosphere without exams, tests and assignments." In each circle, the group discusses a topic and relates it to their own culture. The first conversation circle of 2012 saw the group discussing Groundhog Day, and the different expressions and customs different cultures have about the coming of spring. Drabick said he is always looking for students to get involved with conversation circles, either as native English speakers or as ESL students, and you can contact him for more information at 519-452-4430 ext. 2957 or g_drabick@fanshawec.ca. You can also get ESL help from him by appointment.

"We are delighted to have Sharon and Gerry join our Learning Centre team," said Robert Kitchen, Student Success Leader, who oversees The Learning Centre. "Their warm, caring personalities will allow them to fit in nicely to the well-established environment that students currently enjoy in The Learning Centre. Like all staff in the Centre, they care deeply for the success of each student they deal with. They both bring a very strong technical understanding of their area, but more importantly, they are very approachable and can develop a connection with each student they deal with."

For more information on the services offered to ESL students, check out tinyurl.com/ESLservicesfan.

For more information or to get help, call The Learning Centre at 519-452-4265 or stop by A2019. "Everyone's very friendly and they really try to help students," said Wang.