Professional development seeks to improve learning at LTCC |

Professional development seeks to improve learning at LTCC

Griffin Rogers
LTCC instructor Walter Morris poses for picture on the college's basketball court last week.
Griffin Rogers / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

A physical education instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College studied two storied NBA organizations this year, shadowing the San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings for the betterment of the college’s students.

For 21 days, Walter Morris stood in team huddles, hovered near coaches, listened in on pep talks and more. Sometimes he would rebound basketballs for some of the league’s top players. At other times, he would watch live games in a stadium box with Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford.

Morris’ experience, many might agree, was one lots of fans would jump for. But the instructor didn’t do it for amusement, he said. He had a mission: to learn as much as he could in the subject of sports and apply it to his college classes.

Morris visited the teams as part of his Professional Development Leave at LTCC. For the program, he was given one quarter of paid leave to learn more about his profession, and was tasked with bringing back what he learned.

“I think the founding board members wanted to give the professors in a small, rural and relatively isolated college the chance to stay up to date,” he said.

Most recently, instructor Scott Valentine spoke to the board Tuesday about his sabbatical leave to the Baja California peninsula in Mexico.

For Professional Development Leave, Valentine enrolled in a marine biology course at Glendale Community College for two reasons: to improve the oceanography courses offered at LTCC and to look into the possibility of using GCC’s Baja California Field Station for future LTCC courses, he said Tuesday.

He went on several hikes and boat trips for the course, and has already added some of what he learned to his LTCC classes, he said.

“With the addition of this new material I was able to add a lab component to LTCC’s current Oceanography course,” according to his sabbatical report.

“With the samples I collected and the knowledge I acquired during this time,” Valentine added, “I feel as though I can offer a high quality lab experience to students at LTCC even though we live far from the ocean.”

Professional Development Leave at LTCC allows instructors to stay fresh in their fields while improving the learning of students, said Tom Greene, vice president of academic affairs and student services.

The program began decades ago and continues to show positive results, he said.

“What we’re talking about is educational quality,” Greene said.

Auditions to be held for LTCC play

The Lake Tahoe Community College’s Theatre Department will hold auditions for its upcoming play, “Still Life with Iris,” on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m.

The department is looking for both child and adult actors, and auditions will consist of readings from the play, according to a press release.

In the play, a young girl named Iris tries to find her way home after being taken by the rulers of Nocturno, the land she lives in.

For more information on auditions, including where to get scripts and opportunities as a backstage crew member, call 530-541-4660, ext. 240. Performances for “Still Life with Iris” are set for March 14-23.

USFS accepts reservations for Winter Trek program

The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will begin accepting reservations for the 2014 Winter Trek Conservation Education program on Dec. 16.

Led by Forest Service rangers, the Winter Trek program offers fifth-graders an outdoor educational experience that takes place at 9,100 feet via the Gondola at Heavenly Mountain Resort. The program includes a snowshoe adventure, during which students will learn about the geology and ecology of the Lake Tahoe Basin, the adaptive behavior of Basin wildlife, how to look for signs of wildlife, and the importance of snow.

Teachers may reserve a spot by calling the Forest Service at 530-543-2694, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Winter Trek begins Jan. 7 and continues through March 27, weather permitting. Field trips are generally three hours long and are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

For more information, contact Megan Dee at 530-543-2618, email or Joy Barney at 530-543-2685, email or visit

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