June 2, 2022, Blue Bell / Pottstown, PA. For more than two decades, Dr. Kendall Martin has been introducing his students at Montgomery County Community College with a new superpower that you won’t find on a comic book page. Professors of computer science have helped them discover the full potential of the technology around them and learn to use it in a way that they never even dreamed of, to change their lives forever.
In a classic example, an alumnus. He told Martin that he believed he wanted to spend his life working as a beautician in a hair salon before taking a computer science course.
“Everyone in his family said you weren’t good at technology. That’s for your brother. Why don’t you learn to cut your hair? ‘”Said Dr. Martin of Lansdale. “And now he’s working at Lockheed Martin as a computer programmer. So, you can start to see yourself in a different light and see a different future for yourself. Once you see that these things can be taught how to do, then you own it. This is your superpower and you can use it whenever you want. It could be a life-changing moment. “
Dr. Martin’s efforts to improve the lives of his students are now being celebrated. At this year’s inaugural event, he was nominated for the 2022 Gladys and Raymond Pearlstein Award for Outstanding Teaching.
The award recognizes a full-time faculty member whose learning is intellectually stimulating, accessible to all students, and demonstrates commitment to the well-being of students both inside and outside the classroom.
It was “thrilling” to learn that he had been nominated as the recipient of the award, he said, and felt he was “walking in the air.”
“The reason the award is so important to me is that the legacy of names on the list of past recipients is incredible,” said Dr. Martin. “It’s a privilege to see that group of people and to know how many people have dedicated their entire careers to helping Montgomery County students and to make learning adventure a part of their lives. It’s great to be a part of that legacy. “
Martin’s legacy began 23 years ago when he took a position at MCCC after teaching in the past at Ursinas College and Villanova University. He also previously worked at Texas Instruments and Bell Laboratories.
“I started teaching after my kids were born,” he said.
Dr. Martin, who holds a doctorate in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, has fallen in love with computer science, not only because of its intellectual challenges, but also because of the career paths open to students and its geographical flexibility.
“It’s a great step-stone for community college students to take their lives in a direction that gives them a lot of control and challenges,” he said. “Many of our students fall into wealth through exposure to technology, experience and confidence in mathematics and so they move away from computer science. So, I worked really hard and got people to draft and bring them into the pipeline. If they have a supported experience, many of them think it’s a great match for their interests. “
Over the years, Dr. Martin has come up with unique and creative ways to express different groups of students in computer science outside of the classroom, starting at a young age.
In 2018, she and Sound Recording and Music Technology (SRT) instructor Jane Mittals launched a Pennsylvania chapter of Beats by Girlz for students at the Noristown Center for Culture, Art, Training and Education (CCATE). The program is an unconventional, creative way of learning music, started by Erin Bara-Jean, an associate professor at the Berkeley School of Music. She wrote a music course in response to the low enrollment of women and used the Abelton Push, a new electronic device, to stimulate girls’ interest in music.
Following the success of their program, Dr. Martin and Mitlas successfully launched the Beats by Girls program at The Pathway School, a school primarily for students with the autism spectrum; Lakeside Girls Academy, which provides informed education for girls who have been traumatized; Crawford School, a private high school in Chestnut Hill; And a summer program for girls at the North Wales Area Library and Abington Senior High School. Dr. Martin and Mitlas then converted the program from teaching directly to training teachers and staff at each school to run it themselves.
In 2021, Dr. Martin and Mitlas have launched a new course at the college called “The Language of Digital Media”, which teaches students to use sophisticated tools in digital audio and video production. Then, as the epidemic continued to rage, the two women began hosting “[email protected] Home”, a virtual interview series on electronic music production featuring artists from around the world. Dr. Martin and Mitlas have been awarded an MCCC 2020-2021 Year of Learning Innovation Grant for their efforts.
Most recently, Dr. Martin helped launch Java Bootcamp, a four-week, free online course on coding and computer programming that is taught to students during the summer and winter vacations to give computer science students a fresh look at the material they will soon be studying. The semester program is administered through the Women in Science and Technology (WIST) program, of which Dr. Martin is a member and is funded by the WIST / STEM department. At the beginning of the summer of 2021, the program was attended by 10 students. If it is given again during the winter holidays, class attendance quadruples.
In addition to his work promoting computer science programs, Dr. Martin is recognized for helping other campus wellness center resources that assist students, including free online therapy with TimelyMD and online tutoring for students 24 hours a day, seven days a week. .
Dr. Martin congratulated the college administration for assisting in such programs and for helping them succeed. For several years, he said, faculty members would be at the forefront of watching students struggle helplessly. Now they can give hope.
“I am grateful to the administration for all the work they have done to create this asset,” he said. “Now we can go to the struggling students and give them some options. If you give them an option, they will run with it. I am happy and supportive to see the complete picture of a student. ”
At the outset, Dr. Gloria O’Keelom, Vice President of Academic Affairs, read quotes from some of Dr. Martin’s students, who praised her superheroes for her passion for computer science and for inspiring them to watch her endless battles. They are all successful.
“She is very passionate about computer science and teaching students!” Written by a student. “He wants to see his students succeed. I like it when she is excited with us when we understand how something can be done. “
“He kept telling our Montco students about the different resources,” said another student. “Even though it wasn’t directly related to coding, he made sure everyone knew about the available mental health resources and it helped me a lot.”
“Dr. Martin worked last summer and winter break to organize and run an online Java bootcamp that is open to all programming students,” said one student.
Another student shared that “Dr. Martin is an exceptional professor and mentor. He is always pushing me to do better and acknowledging my hard work. ”
With the Pearlstein Prize now in hand, Dr. Martin says he plans to take a break to continue the relationship he has built in Norristown and to promote the electronic music program at the college. He is also excited to launch the Challenger Learning Center on the Pottstown campus this fall and already has an idea for his students to create an interactive museum piece for the space. Finally, he plans to continue tutoring students in the autistic spectrum in electronic music to expand their abilities in technology and unlock their creativity.
“I’m excited about how much could happen in the next 10 years,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the next decade.”
Written by Eric Devlin
Photo 1 Caption: Montgomery County Community College Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Gloria O’Keefe presented the Gladys and Raymond Pearlstein Teaching Excellence Award to Dr. Kendall Martin, Professor of Computer Science, at the 55th MCCC.M Introductory ceremony. Photo by David Dibalco
About Montgomery County Community College
For more than 57 years, Montgomery County Community College has grown with the community to meet the growing educational needs of Montgomery County. The college’s comprehensive curriculum includes more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as customized staff training and certification. Students enjoy the flexibility of learning on the college’s rich campus at Blue Bell and Pottstown, at the Institute of Cooking Arts in Lansdale, and online.
As the recipient of the Dream Leader College of Destiny, the institution is at the forefront of national efforts to eliminate barriers to entry, improve learning outcomes, and increase completion for all students. The college is regionally and nationally recognized for its sustainable leadership, working with military veterans, community service and service-learning opportunities, and the use of classroom technology. For six years in a row, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development has named MCCC one of the most promising places to work in community colleges across the country for its commitment to diversity through inclusive education and work environments, student and staff recruitment and retention. Opportunities for practice, and meaningful community service and engagement. For more information, see https://www.mc3.edu.