WSA Professional Development Day: Highlights, recordings and keynote words

| March 20, 2015
WSA PDD 2015 keynote

On behalf of Webster University staff, Webster Staff Alliance chair Sanela Bejdic thanked Judge Jimmie Edwards for delivering the keynote at the 2015 WSA Professional Development Day.

WSA PDD 15 planners

During the mid-day keynote luncheon, the Professional Development Day planners were asked to stand and be recognized.

The Webster Staff Alliance annual Professional Development Day on Thursday, March 12, was a hit for attendees in person at the home campus in Webster Groves and those from other campuses who viewed several sessions via Webex.

Sessions were offered in the morning and again in the afternoon on topics such as: communications, stress relief, process improvement, networking, social media and more.

The eight, 50-minutes workshops offered attendees the opportunity to hone their professional development skills in a number of unique ways. In addition to the annual and useful stress management and resume building tactics, there were some new topics intended to change the way we think, approach, react and interact during our work and in day-to-day communication with colleagues.

Paaige Turner, associate dean of the School of Communications, and her husband, Robert Krizek of Saint Louis University, co-presented, “Can You Hear Me Now?” which addressed differences in communication and listening styles among individuals as a significant cause for conflict and misunderstanding.

WSA PDD 15: Can You Hear Me Now?

Associate Dean Paaige Turner and Robert Krizek gave a team presentation on the importance of listening style in effective communication.

According to Turner and Krizek, by better understanding the style and nuances of how a particularly person prefers being communicated with, you can increase their listening ability and improve their understanding of what you have to say.

For example, if you know someone with whom you need to speak is easily distracted, and you have something important to share, brevity is the key. Ultimately, the goal is to communicate using the best approach that will work for them; not necessary what works best for you.

Kris Parsons, project manager in the Project Management office, shared the University’s process improvement program and software, using some hypothetical challenges in her family’s morning routine as simple illustration of how to use the system. Process improvement is a scalable exercise that any person, department or organization can do to identify and correct problems or inefficiencies in workflow. The home life metaphor helped demonstrate how a process improvement approach can create time efficiency and stronger relationships.

Maggie Dankert, of the Department of International Languages & Cultures in the College of Arts & Sciences, offered insights and tips on maximizing the impact and professional development of student workers. Kristi Lenz, analyst in the Project Management office, offered strategies to make meetings more efficient and productive.

Replay and Feedback Survey

Recordings and handouts from these and several other sessions from the day are available at the Professional Development Day page.

The WSA Board is also looking for your feedback about the event and suggestions for next year. Submit your input through this brief survey.

Judge Jimmie Edwards keynote

The keynote by Judge Jimmie Edwards, a juvenile court judge and adjunct faculty member in Legal Studies, focused on implicit bias, and the power of education to reverse the “school to prison” pipeline and give hope to children in difficult environments.

Keynote: Judge Jimmie Edwards on ‘Implicit Bias’

Between the morning and afternoon sessions, the keynote luncheon welcomed special guest Byron Watson, civic leader and member of Ferguson Commission, with keynote speaker Judge Jimmie Edwards delivering the address.

Webster University President Elizabeth (Beth) Stroble opened the luncheon with words of encouragement and support for staff, and thanking WSA leadership on their continued work and development of Webster’s staff.

Edwards, who has a storied career as an attorney, juvenile court judge, and civic leadership, is also a Webster adjunct faculty member in Legal Studies. “It’s a pleasure to speak with you today,” he said. “I feel at home here at Webster. I am one of you.”

He focused his address on the nature and consequences of implicit bias. “Implicit bias requires global attention,” he said. “Most people are unaware of their own implicit bias. It resides in their unconscious mind.”

“So what can we do about it?” he asked, offering three ways to combat it:

  1. Talk about implicit bias in a more transformative way.
  2. Connect with those in a different environment.
  3. “Continually update and modernize our approach. Become agents of change in our community.”

To the second point, Edwards told a story of a young female chess player who connected with one of his 18-year-old students at a chess meet, challenging him and inspiring him with her competitive fire and guiding hand.

Reversing the Pipeline through Education

The student was part of the Innovative Concept Academy that Edwards founded, the only school in America overseen by a court system dedicated to the education and rehabilitation of delinquent teens. Frustrated with seeing juveniles leave his courtroom only to return to the streets and a home life fraught with problems, Edwards opened the academy in the fall of 2009.

“There is nothing like the power of education to lift people out of their circumstances,” Edwards said. “Education is the difference between a job and a career. … With education comes the ability to dream and have hope.”

Lamenting the “school to prison pipeline” which he blames on the failed zero tolerance policies, Edwards founded ICA as a way to  reverse that pipeline. The main goal of the school is to “give hope to these students. Rewire their brain, so to speak. The brain can change. The brain does change. Every day…but to change the brain, you have to change their circumstances.”

“What children really need in life is adults that care,” he said. “Any adult. We model and teach. The process of learning is a joy in itself.”

At the conclusion of Edwards’ remarks, WSA chair Sanela Bejdic, coordinator in the Academic Resource Center, presented Edwards with a $1500 donation to the school from WSA.

Tags: ,

Category: Employee News

Comments are closed.