And All Is Right With the World…

Okay…that’s a stretch…

But I had a ‘moment’ this morning  when I walked into the 2nd floor restroom of the B & O, turned on the sink and water poured out of the faucet…warm…I tell you…it was warm! And…hold on to your toque…it drained!!!!

So the ASC sends out a big cluck to Dave Monteleone who has given us warmth and water!  (If you were anywhere near the 2nd floor of the B & O, you probably heard my “shout out” to Dave this morning…)

It feels good, doesn’t it…to walk into a place that looks good…vibrant, cared for…where things work and appear to have a home? Environment, too, creates energy Chickens. And we have some control over it, don’t we…you and me…so let’s keep our environment buzzing, Chickens!

As if you needed another reason to believe that Northern is a smart place to be…check this out, Chickens:Tuition savings

I mean…even Wally ‘nose’ it’s “all about the Benjamins, baby!


No Animal Was Harmed in the Grading of this Test…

I love tests. I kid you not…

My Brain: Bring it on…what do you got for me?!?! I bet I know what questions you’re going to ask…I’ll show you what I know, test! I ain’t sceered!! Red pen me…do your worst! (Gloria Gaynor pulsing through the disco balls in my eyes…)

So it is hard to understand many students who, like my own son, dry up like slugs in salt come test time. For some students it’s any test…for others…it’s a specific subject.anxiety.pngand academic demands and tests are often the reason. According to the Mayo Clinic, a little nervousness before a test is normal and can help sharpen your mind and focus your attention. But with test anxiety, feelings of worry and self-doubt can interfere with your test-taking performance and make you miserable. Test anxiety can affect anyone, whether you’re a primary or secondary school student, a college student, or an employee who has to take tests for career advancement or certification.

Some of us may even be skeptical (who…me?!?!) but having a son with this problem is providing me with a window into the world of subject/test anxiety.

frustration 2He brought home a math test recently that had bled to death…so covered in red ink. He missed every…EVERY…problem. And we’d studied for this one…real studying (to his dismay he has a mother who studies studying for a living)…he’d practiced…he knew the content…I just go blank as soon as the paper hits my desk…it’s like I can’t think of anything…it all just looks the same.

If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard this, almost verbatim, for the last 15 years…the only thing I’d have to study is what beach has the softest sand.

So we sat down to work through the problems on the test…as I figured the first one…he grabbed the paper from me and said, “No, Mom…you do it like this,” and solved the problem, expertly, step-by-step, right before my very eyes!?!? WHAAAAAAAAAT?!?!

This morning I listened as a student explained similar math issues to her instructor, echoing what I’ve heard so many times, “I can’t do math…my brain doesn’t get it. I guess I’m just…not very smart…”

And the instructor replied, “Your attitude is really important. The attitude with which you approach math [or anything] is important.”

Believe me, I’m no Pollyanna…rainbows and butterflies won’t make me a physicist…there are hard things in life…and sometimes we all feel like we’re trapped in the ‘bang-head-here’ room…but the moment you believe  you cannot, or worse, walk away, is the moment you will not. And walking away will, ultimately, leave you with nowhere left to go.

I wish I knew where the magic button was…but until I do…here are some of the suggestions for dealing with academic anxiety that (to his adolescent dismay) I also share with my son:

  • Learn how to study efficiently – most students think they know. But most don’t.
  • Establish a consistent pretest routine – routine breeds familiarity, familiarity breeds comfort, comfort eases stress/anxiety.
  • Learn relaxation techniques – sounds a little Buddha chic´, but they help
  • Eat, drink water, exercise, sleep – to solve all the world’s problems, right?
  • Talk to your teacher – I know, I know…I wasn’t one of those students who loved hanging out with faculty after class or during office hours either – you don’t have to “hang out” but you do have to communicate…think of it like going to see a doctor…if you’re sick you can’t just go sit in the office, right? You have to talk to the doctor about what’s going on to get better. Always remember: LEARNING IS ESSENTIALLY AN EXCHANGE.
  • Don’t ignore a learning disability – this is a tough one, right? Who wants a label? Who wants to feel like they’re on the clearance rack? We don’t have to play coy with words to start thinking about the human brain like…well, a snowflake. No two are the same…there is no “normal.” So figure out how your brain works and then work with it – not against it.

    One of my faves!
    There I said it. Value your own opinion – if you don’t know or understand – say so – without worrying about what other people know, or do, or say. More often than not, this demonstrates confidence. (This is a tough one, I know, but the more you do it…the easier it gets…the world doesn’t end…people who love you still love you…the sun rises…fish swim…you get it.)
  • FINALLY: FIND SUPPORT. Stay connected. You’ll feel less alone, feeling less alone brings comfort, comfort is to anxiety what slime is to slugs. Though…you can’t just throw yourself on someone’s mercy…you’ve got to lead the charge…i.e. tell a tutor what you need: wait…wait…don’t tell me…I need to explain this to you; don’t tell me again, show me on the white board this time; okay give me one more problem just like that…okay, one more…and one more, and




Coffee Squawk w/Jone

Today’s post is the fourth in the Coffee Squawk series, featuring one member of our Thundering Chicken clutch …in an effort to understand: Who are we chickens? Who are we?
Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love. ~John Steinbeck


Thundering Chicken: Jone (pronounced Yo-nay) Gerediaga Astigarraga, Psychology

Roost: Amorebieta, Spain (I mean this is cooler than ice cold, Chickens!!!)

Hatched: Jone already has a Bachelor’s Degree in ‘Social Education’ from a university in Spain…she describes Social Education as a “cross between social work and special education.” In 2012, as part of a university program, she came to the US for a semester of study at Wheeling Jesuit University. She “made friends” and decided to return to the States to keep studying. Lucky for us, Chickens, she chose WVNCC because it’s not a private school…she was in search of a freer community environment (can I get a virtual high-five on that, Chickens?!?!) and she says, the “price is right!”

Jone’s interest in social work and psychology were sparked at the age of 15 when she worked at a summer camp where 90% of the residents were juvenile offenders. She realized then that she “wanted to be a person who helps others by providing emotional support and counseling.” 

Just Among Us Chickens: Jone was bullied in high school.(I don’t know about you, Chickens, but I am so over haters…) This led her to seek popularity in all the wrong ways…she said
her teachers called her a “lost case” and her “mother was in tears” when she realized she needed to get ‘back on track.’ And she did! She worked hard, doing whatever it took to recover academically and repair relationships.

All It’s Cracked Up To Be: Jone notices several differences between education in Spain and the US. In Spain “everyone can get a good education…in America education is tied to money.” She notices a difference in educators as well, “Here teachers are…(she puts her hand up to her forehead) there is distance. I like that. In Spain, teachers are more like your friend…you have coffee or see them out partying, you know.”

All That & Some Chicken Wings: Jone speaks 3 languages fluently: Spanish, English and Basque – her native tongue. She loves to travel and has been all over Europe, Tunisia and Peru, where she did volunteer work in an orphanage.

Chicken Feed: Do it. Figure it out. Ask for help. It’s worth it. (Jone is my kind of Chicken!)

Worth Crowing About: “WVNCC  in underestimated. There are good teachers…it’s a good education. It is here in the center…I can take the bus. People are accessible…help is…right now…and tutoring…all the support…people will help you…it’s like…they want you to succeed.

And if you want to…you will.”


Get in the Game…

Chickens, if you’ve spent any time with us in the ASC, you know we’re big gamers…old school gamers. We love Pictionary, trivia, Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity (note: not a family game)…

So this Chickens…
Draw Something.jpg

is the coolest student activity ever! I am sooooooooooo jealous…I may even have to take my lunch hour some Monday to get my game on. Fair warning – I am the ugliest of competitors –  ask any of my ASC colleagues.

Are You Willing to Roll the Dice?

Paul Aker, a Houston man just took a losing turn when he was arrested by US Marshalls for failure to pay back a student loan from…like…30-years ago. So get your head in the game Chickens…the last thing you want are US Marshalls beating down your door one morning while your throwing back your cornflakes because you didn’t make that final loan payment…I mean, how do you explain that to your kids?

Remember Newton’s 3rd Law of Physics (don’t ask Chickens…I cannot explain from whence this sudden interest in physics has come):

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction…in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects.

Every action, ugh, I mean that’s weighty stuff, right? It makes the muffin on my desk right
now so fraught with introspection…

Small Talk is a Big Job…

…for some of us.

There are two kinds of people in the world:

  1. Those who love small talk.
  2. Those who hate small talk.

I confess – I am in group 2.

I wish there was a course I could have taken in college called Chin Wagging 101…then again…I wouldn’t have taken it. I also readily admit – I’m a late bloomer. I was foolish enough, in my youth, to believe small talk was something I’d “never use” in “real life.” Kind of like algebra (sorry JK).


I mean, I’ve come to realize there is no greater, more universally necessary and applicable life skill than that of small talk. Every student should have some training in this form of belles-lettres.

Recongnizing my weakness, I’ve read book after book on the topic:

  • The Fine Art of Small Talk
  • How to Talk to Anyone
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People

and on and on…maybe the most insightful book I’ve come across on the topic is:

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I learned about the difficulties introverts have…trying to fit into an extroverted world. My husband has a different way of schooling me on the topic, “Maybe if you didn’t have a case of ‘chronic-bitch-face’…you’d find human interaction a little easier.” Ouch – the truth hurts. Okay, so maybesome people…might think I’m a little “intense.”

I didn’t even know ‘chronic-bitch-face’ was a “thing”…but it is and he was right.

A study done by Midwestern University found that 80% of the time, a lack of communication skills rather than technical ability or business know-how is the reason people do not get ahead in their jobs…or just, you know, in life….

And if you’re a woman who falls into Group 2 – it’s even harder. Group 2 ladies – you know what I mean, right? Women are often expected to be more social, empathetic and loquacious…and if we fail to meet that general expectation…we’re labeled a…well, see above.

So for any of my still-waters sisters (and brothers) out there…here are a few tips from the ‘experts’ on how to play the important game of tongue ‘Twister’:

  1. Do Your Homework – I know, right? There is no escaping homework, no matter how old you are or how many degrees you have. Before going to an event, to class, to work – find out about the people around you – their interests, attitudes etc. – and brush up on those topics.
  2. Draw People Out – Everyone can talk about themselves – everyone is an expert on that topic. Ask questions and then be a good listener…if the conversation lags and you find it difficult to focus as someone expounds upon their favorite laundry detergent…make a polite getaway.
  3. Be Willing to Be Drawn – If someone is trying to chat you up (provided she didn’t appear suddenly from a dark alley) don’t use one-word responses…embellish and elaborate.
  4. Discuss Your Environment – It’s something you have in common with those around you. “It’s cold.” “The walls are so…white.”
  5. Be Willing to Discuss Your Environment – see above

Finally…if you aren’t one of the speak-easies in Group 1…plan ahead. Think about each day and what meetings, classes, activities, commitments, events you have that will require “talk energy” and be sure to create times before, after and in-between that allow you to recharge that battery. We all have our own unique battery packs – with varying amounts of energy for various activities. Energy is important, Chickens! I mean we don’t want to be running around out here with our heads cut-off!

In physics, a consequence of The Law of Conservation of Energy is: no system without an external energy supply can deliver an unlimited amount of energy to its surroundings.

Maybe I should sign up for physics 101????



Coffee Squawk w/ Daryl

Today’s post is the third in the Coffee Squawk series, featuring one member of our Thundering Chicken clutch …in an effort to understand: Who are we chickens? Who are we?
Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love. ~John Steinbeck

Thundering Chicken: Daryl Lee Zaiiden-Williams, Criminal Justice Daryl

Roost: Wheeling / Carnegie

Hatched How?: Daryl’s started fresh a few times…he originally applied to WVNCC about 8 years ago…but was a little uncertain about what to study (we’re all feelin’ that, amIright?) and, at the last minute, life intervened and “I ended up at Johnson and Wales University in Denver, Colorado. I mean, I’ve tried a lot of colleges…” Pay attention, Chickens, Daryl is a good guy to know…’cause he can do a lot of stuff. After high school, he started out studying Veterinary Technology online, he studied French cuisine for a year at a culinary school in California, gave Business Studies a shot, worked some odd jobs…but landed here after leaving Denver and came back to WVNCC specifically for an Associate’s Degree…in Criminal Justice. 

“I like CJ because it’s not the same thing every day…I’m looking for a little risk and excitement.” Right now, he has 3 ideas in mind: detective work, bail bondsman or forensics (see below).

The Sky Was Falling: Daryl speaks about overcoming self-doubt and feelings of “not being smart enough” to get a college degree. He intimated those feelings come from his childhood…but he smiles when he says “I’ve forgiven, put the past behind me and I’m moving forward!” (Can I get a go’head?!? We’ve all felt the sky fall a time or two, amIright?)

Chicken Feed: “Don’t settle. Explore. Find something your passionate about.” 

Flying the Coop: Daryl may decide to go on and complete his Bachelors…he knows   Forensics will require him to continue his education.

Something to Crow About: “WVNCC is a good school. And the *ASC is an amazing place…with good people…I mean, the tutors…I’ve had a really positive experience here.”

*No money changed hands to generate this response, hawkeye!


Coffee Squawk w/AJ Cooke

Today’s post is the second in the Coffee Squawk series, featuring one member of our Thundering Chicken clutch …in an effort to understand: Who are we chickens? Who are we?
Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love. ~John Steinbeck

AJThundering Chicken: AJ (Andrew Jacob) Cooke, Social Work 2+2 WVU

Roost: Originally: Charles County, Maryland / Currently: Wheeling

Hatched How?: AJ was apprenticed with a plumber…but work started “drying up” when the recession hit…so he decided it was time to kick his “back-up” plan into gear. He moved to Wheeling last February for family reasons and became a chicken because it was “easy to get started” and “conveniently located.” He added, “Kathy Herrington and Joyce Britt really encouraged me to pursue Social Work. It’s a good program.” (Our faculty can crow!!!)

This Chicken is Determined to Cross the Road: AJ knows how to stay focused on his goals. Needing to buy his second car, he worked like a chicken-with-its-head-cut-off and scratched together every penny until he had those wheels. He also maintains a solid 4.0, works in WVNCC’s high-tech TEAL Lab, and actively participates in SCARSI & SGA…and AJ is one swingin’ chicken…he plays guitar and sings a mean karaoke. 

Met the “Big Bird”: At the age of 4, AJ was chosen out of more than 600 kids to play drums in the Sesame Street Band!!! (That is knock-me-down-with-a-feather awesome! I can’t speak for you, but this made me Oscar-the-Grouch green with envy…I still love that big, yellow fowl and his muppety pals.)

Advice for “chics”: Use every resource available to you!

Flying the Coop: “After my Bachelor’s, I’m planning to return to WVNCC to get my Master’s in WVU’s Social Work program.” Then, AJ says, it may be off to law school.

Worth “Thundering” About: People at WVNCC are nice…and… “you know, for the most part, know what they’re talking about.”