Instructor Sabbaticals

Due to budgetary restraints the Sabbatical program had been placed on hold at this time.

Instructor sabbaticals and work upgrade leaves, 1994-2000


For over six years, Madison Area Technical College's Educational Funding Committee has sponsored work upgrade leaves, sabbaticals, and teacher exchanges.  These opportunities allow individuals to expand and upgrade knowledge of their field through academic work and real-world experience.  The title for this webpage represents Madison Area Technical College's goal of fostering an educational environment where instructors and staff constantly renew their knowledge and skills.


Diane McKenzie

learning disability instructor, alternative learning

"...doing research in my field helped me to better understand my students and my roles as their teacher ... I spent many hours in the 'learning center' which made me appreciate my students' need for learning center assistance."

Diane McKenzie took time off from her responsibilities in special needs education to learn more about the students she serves.  After years of supporting students with learning disabilities, she completed her PhD in special education.

While pursuing her degree, Diane worked with researchers to gauge the impact that high school special education programs can have on the success of college students with learning disabilities.  Through academic work, Diane was able to add theoretical knowledge to her extensive experience in the field. 

As part of her degree work, Diane supervised secondary education student teachers.  At Madison Area Technical College, Diane hopes to share her sabbatical work with instructors through in-service workshops.

Franklin Cham

literature instructor, arts and sciences

"Working at Madison Area Technical College has provided me with a wealth of experience for what I want to write about in my dissertation, but it has also made it more difficult to complete.  I updated my focus on the subjects that I teach, while on leave."

Concerns for diversity issues occupy an important part of Madison Area Technical College's institutional objectives.

As the instructor and developer of American Gay and Lesbian Literature, Franklin's leave allowed him to further develop his class curriculum by focusing on the literature of AIDS.

By documenting the literature of AIDS, he hopes to provide a human face for a subject that is studied clinically.  While working on his dissertation, Franklin developed educational components that carry over from the literary world to the fields of medical and social sciences.

Sharing his expertise on the subject, Franklin works to build a "safe educational atmosphere for the exchange of ideas."

Patrick Barlow

theater instructor, arts and sciences

"Not having to work almost every night and weekend has involved me to be very involved in the lives of my family ... this benefit has been far and above the largest outcome of my sabbatical."

Patrick's sabbatical leave gave him the opportunity to exercise his craft as a playwright, to revise the school's theater curriculum, and to work on budget issues.

The most visible result of his leave is a two-act play, a study of the repercussions that murder can have on the surrounding community. 

After doing extensive research and interviews, Patrick further developed his play by exchanging ideas, encouragement and revisions with Holly Walter Kerby and other Madison Area Technical College instructors involved in creative writing.

This informal theater workshop allowed Patrick to be involved in the playwrighting process -- an invaluable experience for someone who teaches a class on developing original theater.

Jody Thrush

spanish instructor, arts and sciences

"Attaining my PhD has been a long-range education goal since 1981.  The degree enhances my self-esteem, validates my competence and opens doors to new opportunities within Madison Area Technical College and my profession."

Every year, thousands of educators attend professional development conferences.  While these conferences allow instructors to exchange information and make contact with their colleagues, little is known about their effect on the classroom.

As a participant in many of these events, Jody Thrush set out to find the elusive link between the classroom and conference room.  By interviewing foreign language educators for her dissertation, she learned more about how professional society reunions strengthen the daily work of a teacher. 

Jody helps her work will allow administrators and conference participants to make more informed decisions on how to allocate funding and make the most out of these opportunities.

Holly Walter Kerby

chemistry instructor, arts and sciences

>"I am targeting a preteen and teen audience because this is when young people, especially girls, lose interest in science ... Madame Curie's story introduces older children to the excitement, impact and gravity of scientific discovery."

Taking leave from Madison Area Technical College allowed Holly Walter Kerby to bring together her love of chemistry and theater. 

Author of several short plays, Holly developed a full-length play about the life of Nobel-prize winner Marie Curie.  The play follows Curie's life, including her discovery of radioactivity and her struggle to raise two daughters after the death of her husband and collaborator, scientist Pierre Curie. 

Holly met regularly with Patrick Barlow and other instructors to discuss and revise their creative projects.  The result is a "family" play with photographs and quotes from Curie's letters and lectures. 

The play is designed for performance at Madison Area Technical College's Mitby theater and will incorporate students into all aspects of production.

John Galligan

creative writing instructor, arts and sciences

"My sabbatical gave me long, uninterrupted periods to work.  I was able to write as much in those four months as I would normally complete in about two years... [this] renewed my enthusiasm for the teaching of creative writing."

"I need to be what I teach," wrote John Galligan in his sabbatical proposal.

In a field with limited formal education opportunities, working on a major creative project such as a novel is one of the few opportunities for writing instructors to advance their trade. 

Working with agents, publishers and writers, John wrote the first draft of a mystery novel, experiencing first hand the world of mass-market, genre-writing.

John's foray into mystery writing allows him to better serve students interesting in pursuing commercial genres such as science-fiction, fantasy or romance. 

Aspiring writers also benefit from an instructor familiar with the realities of market and audience as well as the dreams and struggles of writers.

Marilyn Carien

english instructor, arts and sciences

"Staff development is facing an important challenge ... If we can have meaningful, challenging courses or modules, it can make a tremendous long-term difference in our institutional culture and our effectiveness in meeting student needs."

While much has been written about teaching techniques for elementary and secondary education, there are few programs that specialize in higher education. 

During her leave, Marilyn Carien traveled to the University of California-Davis as a consultant and special student in an innovative program designed to train college teachers. 

Marilyn's time at UC-Davis also allowed her to observe mentoring programs and interview other educators, in an area with more than 50 colleges nearby.

Her work led to the creation of certification modules and courses for part-time teachers, bringing innovative techniques to facilitate classroom learning.

Jim McGonigle

film instructor, arts and sciences

"Many students have had to spend more time at Madison Area Technical College because the UW raised its requirements and mandated that students transferring have a minimum of 30 credits...we need to keep updating and expanding our course offerings."

Based upon the consistent popularity of a class on film, Jim McGonigle saw the need for additional courses.  Jim set out to build his knowledge base in order to create what students seemed to want.  Jim went into pre-production and script development by taking nine communication credits at the UW.

Over the years, Communications has become one of the most requested majors at the UW.  Madison Area Technical College transfer students interested in this major often need to take prerequisite courses before taking higher level offerings at the University.  To counter this, Jim spent time developing two new courses that would transfer to the UW and fulfill these requirements.

Survey of Radio, Television, and Film as Mass Media premiered in the Spring of 2000 and History of World Cinema is scheduled to open at an Madison Area Technical College classroom in the Fall of 2000.

Mike Irwin

journalism instructor, arts and sciences

"I carry my powers to ask questions, to analyze ... [for] my students from my own experience rather than an abstract understanding of how one becomes a technical writer or a journalist."

Mike traded his classroom environment for the field, literally.  His work took him to rural Wisconsin where he exercised and honed his expertise in agriculture, journalism and photography.

By working full-time as a reported for Madison's Capitol Times, Mike wrote about cutting-edge issues such as biotechnology and brought the Exxon Mine story to the city's readers.

His stint in real i-life journalism allowed him to become familiar with current electronic research tools and the use of networked computers.  Mike was also able to see how a familiar workplace (The Capitol Times) had changed considerably since the 60's--to the benefit of the students at The Clarion and others interested in journalism careers.

Karen Redfield

literature instructor, arts and sciences

"I know that pursuing a degree has made me a happier person and a better teacher.  The intellectual stimulation has not taken me away from the Madison Area Technical College classroom, quite the contrary."

While teaching at Madison Area Technical College, Karen Redfield realized that an instructor's awareness and understanding of her students' cultural background plays a critical role in education.  Karen completed her PhD requirements and continued her work to develop more relevant ways of teaching English composition courses to Native American students.

Madison Area Technical College now offers an English composition course that serves Native American students by acknowledging their cultural and linguistic heritage.

Karen also developed curriculum for a Native American Literature class.  Together, these courses support diversity objectives at Madison Area Technical College by making the English department more accessible to Native American students and offering different cultural perspectives through literature.

Craig Nauman

sociology instructor, arts and sciences

"Not to make light of a time for serious study and reflection, my second sabbatical allowed me to spend three work days each week with our infant son, sometime I will treasure forever."

One of the few Madison Area Technical College instructors with two sabbatical leaves, Craig Nauman's off-campus work has brought new education opportunities to both students and faculty and has helped improve campus climate.

By researching issues connected with Latino and other people of color, Craig has been closely involved in developing and working on the faculty diversity seminar.

In the seminar, faculty can explore their experiences with race and discrimination and better serve the needs of the increasingly diverse study body at Madison Area Technical College.

Students also benefit from an instructor with extensive knowledge of multicultural issues.

Through his ongoing sabbatical work, Craig has advanced the school's ongoing commitment to diversity.

Marline Pearson

human relations instructor, arts and sciences

"It allowed me to get deeply involved in an area of interest to me ... my work has garnered tremendous community interest from Briarpatch to the Department of Public Instruction and Madison Area Technical College counseling staff."

Marline Pearson's sabbatical work on family and marriage has generated interest far beyond her original intent of creating a one-credit course on human relations.

Combining her background in criminology with her research on family, Marline's work focused on linking crime prevention to building quality parental relationships.

Her work has led to speaking engagements for educational organizations, and training sessions for counselors at Madison Area Technical College, the Department of Corrections and Malcolm Shabazz High School.

Marline and several students from her class were interviewed as part of an upcoming national PBS documentary on marriage, focusing on the prevention aspect of her work.

Blair McMillan

instructor, arts and sciences

"Storytelling can be a strong teaching technique ... my students enjoy and learn from storytelling.  The best stories that I can tell them come from my personal experiences in research laboratories and in working with companies."

Blair McMillan's sabbatical leave will put him on the cutting edge in the fight against cancer.  A specialist in avian and human white blood cells, Blair was invited to work at a major marine research laboratory.

Shakes are the only animals that do not get cancer.  It is thought that their immune systems targets cancer-causing substances in their cells.

By studying sharks and other sea life, Blair's work will incorporate direct knowledge and samples of marine animals into his teaching--an area traditionally lacking in midwestern zoology curriculum.  Joining the battle against a terrible disease, Blair hopes to bring back shark-related research stories, "of the non-toothy variety."

Sandy Loman

history instructor, arts and sciences

"One way to develop global awareness in more courses would be to increase the knowledge and experience of faculty with other cultures through staff development.  Developing staff awareness is important to develop new curriculum."

For over twenty years, Sandy has been a pioneer in global awareness, teaching courses in African and world history at Madison Area Technical College.

In recent years, as part of its core abilities program, Madison Area Technical College has moved towards preparing students to live in a world-wide community.

Continuing her dedication to teaching global awareness, Sandy participated in an on-site studies program at Cote d'Ivoire in Africa.  In addition to traditional academic materials, the program also gave her the chance to visit and observe the life and activities of an African village.

By learning about history, art and daily life in the African continent, students in Sandy's class gain a better understanding of our rapidly expanding global village.

John Rosenberg

math instructor, arts and sciences

"One of my goals in education is to be a lifelong learner, for only in that way can I continue to improve my teaching."

John Rosenberg's work upgrade leave gave him the opportunity to upgrade his professional knowledge by combining academic study with hands-on experience.  He studied at the University of Wisconsin and worked for Tara Software Inc.

Working for Tara Software, John was able to see the major role that documentation, program design and communication play in developing software, and the need to include these topics in Madison Area Technical College courses.

His leave time also resulted in the creation of a new college transfer course that covers the fundamentals of structure programming.

Chris Gargan

commercial art instructor

"I work to broaden my knowledge of the occupational opportunities for our graduates ... writing a textbook has enhanced my expertise and strengthened my ties to the business community that employs them."

When Chris Gargan couldn't find a textbook to fulfill new-technology requirements for commercial art, he requested a sabbatical to develop one.

Over the years, the field of figure drawing has been enhanced by the introduction of 3-D animation, animatronics and computer drawing.  While these technologies pervade the media and entertainment industry, most textbooks only cover the traditional graphic arts.

Chris's book gives students a "how-to" guide for illustrative figure drawing in the digital environment.  It also helps commercial art students plan their career, with interviews and insight into the career development of artists (former students of Chris) working for major national media and entertainment companies.

David Dean

computer information systems instructor, business

"As a professional in the Information Systems subject area, I need to continue to work with current techniques ... Information Systems is a fast changing environment."

For his leave, David Dean worked at Wisconsin's Department of Administration (DOA) as part of a system design team. 

During his stay at the DOA, he collaborated on a project to develop a "Client/Server-based Human Resource system" while receiving training in COOL:Gen software.  His leave allowed him to walk in the shoes of some of his former Computer Information Systems students, who now work for the state of Wisconsin.

Thanks to his leave, the business division has new resources to teach state employees as well as curriculum to match the state of the art software used in computer information systems.

Henry Walski

computer information systems instructor, business

"This project will allow us to better develop programs, courses and training for CIS students.  Such courses will provide students with learning experiences that are critical to continuing their competitive edge."

Henry Walski spent his sabbatical leave working on an overhaul of the Computer Information Systems curriculum.  Many of the program's courses were long overdue for change, as they had been updated, in some cases, more than eight years earlier.

Working with his colleagues, Henry helped develop a curriculum repository for CIS.  The curriculum repository will provide program core abilities, a set of necessary professional skills and product competencies for all CIS program areas.

The development of the curriculum database will provide instructors in his program with a solid foundation for material preparation, validation and presentation, a set of tools that applies to the programs present and future offerings.

Susan Schwerdtfeger

business technology instructor, culinary/leisure/business technology

"A sabbatical is a wonderful way to become immersed in creating and developing major program changes ... it is extremely difficult to do this with a normal teaching load ... it has been a very rejuvenating experience."

As the business world becomes more competitive, offices are downsizing and requiring office workers with higher skill levels.  With this in mind, Susan Schwerdtfeger set out to "retool" the office technology program area.

A curriculum revision for the program area was necessary, due to rapid changes in office technology.  While constant updates had been standard practice within the department, there hadn't been an in-depth appraisal of the overall programs.

Major changes occurred thanks to Susan's work, with new certificates offered in areas such as the Internet.  Courses have been modularized and the division now offers and Business Specialist Software program.

Peter Vlisides

recreation and travel instructor, culinary/leisure/business technology

"A sabbatical is a way to revitalize my connection to the world of recreation ... In the short run it provides a way to keep up with innovations and to meet my professional responsibility to maintain a current body of knowledge."

For twenty years, Peter Vlisides has trained students in the recreation services program to work in health clubs, golf courses and other facilities.  The need to update the program became apparent as new forms as recreation such as soccer became popular, and computer use entered the workplace. 

In 1994, the program underwent a major modification as two options "Activity Fitness leader" and "Facility Operation Specialist" were developed. 

For his leave, Peter plans to update the competencies for these options with an emphasis on the use of computers in health and recreation facilities in Wisconsin.  His leave will also allow him to renew and develop links with work sites for the students in his program.

Catherine Wilson

occupational therapy instructor, health occupations

"Students need to be ready to direct their professional development to be successful once they leave Madison Area Technical College.  They will be ready if they receive feedback from multiple perspectives as part of their education."

Catherine Wilson's leave took her to Alverno College where she enrolled in graduate studies and continued her collaboration with assessment programs at that school.  Her study focused on the areas of human development, educational philosophy and assessment.  She also revised curriculum for several classes in her division and reflected on the development of core ability assessment at Madison Area Technical College. 

With regard to classroom teaching, Catherine's work centered on improving assessment instruments for students in occupational therapy.  By providing them with feedback through performance evaluation, Catherine's students can better direct their learning.

Lynn Konkel

optometry instructor, health occupations

"I am looking to expand my knowledge as a teacher and feel that distance education, specifically internet-based education, will be a major part of the educational environment."

Lyn Konkel's sabbatical will usher Madison Area Technical College's optometric technology program into the information age.

Optometric technician programs are few and far between in this country and opportunities to acquire the necessary skills for jobs in this field are limited.  Over the years, optometric offices in Wisconsin and the United States has requested distance learning programs in this field. 

Lynn's leave will focus on developing the first internet-based training program for eye care workers.  Using the internet's capabilities, optometric assistants across the country will be able to collaborate with their peers and course instructors through projects, chat rooms and on-line assessment.

Mike Braun

dietetics instructor, health occupations

"Getting credentialed professionals into the weight control industry is becoming a priority in government regulation ... it represents a sterling, yet untapped opportunity for dietetic students and professionals."

Mike's sabbatical leave resulted in the writing of a textbook on the psychological connection to eating disorders, after upheaval in his department complicated the development of his dissertation.

While obesity has been recognized as one of the gravest health concerns in this country, new evidence has surfaced on the worsening effect that weight-loss programs can have on this problem.  During leave, Mike explored the psychological and nutritional aspects related to the cyclical nature of dieting and overeating.

Mike's work has led to presentations and speaking engagements across the country.  More importantly, dietetic technician students will be better prepared to help fight against the rising incidence of anorexia, bulimia, and other disorders--with a more integral approach to treatment.

Donell Rogness

nursing instructor, health occupations

"It is essential to strive for professional growth with a balance between pedagogical pursuits and occupational specific pursuits ... both areas are important for excellence in program development and mastery in classroom teaching."

Donell Rogness' leave coincided with major curriculum changes within the Associate Degree Nursing program.  As health care delivery continues to shift toward ambulatory care, the practice patterns and the skills have become quite different from those required by inpatient care. 

In her leave time, Donell worked with some of the major ambulatory care providers in the area to identify areas of skill and expertise to update program activities and requirements.

By partnering with agencies within the community, her work upgrade leave has increased Madison Area Technical College's ties to possible employment sites for nursing students while better preparing them for a changing nursing practice.

Marilyn Rinehart

nursing instructor, health occupations

"I was reminded of the challenges of nursing practice.  I was able to experience first-hand the increasing 'paperwork' as nurses have increasing requirements for documentation and attention to payment issues."

Teaching about home-care requires real-world experience.  For her leave, Marilyn followed a nurse preceptor as part of a simulated clinical rotation through an arrangement with Home Health United, a home nursing agency. 

Marilyn's sabbatical put her in contact with many home care situations--from the apartment of a chronic schizophrenic to a three-story Victorian home with a patient recovering from knee surgery.

Along those visits, she interviewed home-care managers and administrators to determine which concepts to include in her classroom teaching.  Her work with the agency also served to facilitate future clinical experiences for her nursing students.

Barb Clark

nursing instructor, health occupations

"I try to practice what I preach to my students ... completion of this Nurse Practitioner program will be one more way that I can serve as a positive role model for lifelong education to my nursing students."

In seventeen years at Madison Area Technical College, Barb Clark has taught almost all of the nursing courses available at Reedsburg, constantly updating her professional knowledge to reflect changes in the medical field. 

Recently, the nursing profession has changed considerably, as legislative changes have granted certain clinical, diagnostical and prescriptive privileges to nurse practitioners.  Having already completed a significant part of her academic requirements, Barb's leave will grant her the necessary time to complete her second post-graduate nursing degree. 

Her sabbatical plans include spending two days a week in a rural clinic as well as academic coursework.  Barb plans to become the first nursing instructor at Madison Area Technical College with Nurse Practitioner certification.

Bob Brown

machine tooling instructor, technical and industrial

"It is imperative that I know my subject with a deep level of understanding ... It is with this improvement that I can make students more competitive in the world market."

As computer technology becomes a standard in industrial processes, knowledge of computerized numerical control (CNC) becomes essential to operate and to teach about machine tools.

Bob Brown's work upgrade leave didn't take him far away from his teaching area, yet immersed him in the study of new and powerful technologies for the design and manufacture of machine parts.

Taking advantage of in-house curriculum, Bob took a partial leave and attended the CNC courses offered at this college.  Machine-tooling students benefit from having an instructor who can introduce them early on to the most advanced processes in the field.

Boyd Whitt

wood techniques instructor, technical and industrial

"It is absolutely necessary that all areas of instruction attempt to keep up with both society changes and technology changes.  The long term benefit is that we will be better equipped to meet industry standards in the future."

After searching for schools that offered courses for numerical control operations, Boyd Whitt ended up at Madison Area Technical College. 

Computerized numerical control (CNC) is fast becoming a standard for industry, from machine tooling to woodworking.  These days, even small woodworking shops are adopting CNC technology to remain competitive.

As other schools incorporate CNC into their curriculum, Boyd's work upgrade leave allows Madison Area Technical College to remain competitive and offer students the latest in woodworking technology.

John Lombardo

electrical technology instructor, technical and industrial

"...experiencing a classroom from a student's viewpoint increases my sensitivity to the needs and concerns of my students and inspires me to reflect on my own philosophy of teaching."

A graduate from a technical college who went on to obtain a bachelor's degree and pursue graduate studies, John Lombardo is quite familiar with the pursuit of lifelong learning.

Taking a partial leave, he completed a Master's of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  His coursework exposed him to new software and numerical control techniques in the field of electronics.  The partial nature of his leave allowed John to continue to serve as a resource for students and instructors at his department.

John hopes to inspire students in his courses to pursue other types of higher education after they graduate from Madison Area Technical College.

Donald Olson

wood techniques instructor, technical and industrial

"By striving to lead in our areas of instruction by experience, trade shows, and experiments, we create a model of continuous improvement for all of Madison Area Technical College."

Donald Olson spent time during his work upgrade leave to look at practical developments within the home building industry.  Concepts such as sustainability, energy efficiency, factory-crafted manufacturing and recycling are evolving within this industry to make optimal use of building materials.

Donald's work upgrade leave with an area home-builder gave him the opportunity to have a first-hand look at these developments and incorporate them into wood techniques curriculum.

By constantly updating its programs in wood techniques, Madison Area Technical College provides skilled professionals to meet the growing housing needs of central Wisconsin.