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11/29/2012 6:01:00 AM
Educational Upset
Students: Confusion causes panic at Mohave college program
Dixie Ford, a medical assisting instructor with more than 30 years of experience, was fired by MCC on Nov. 7 and is pictured here holding up her termination letter. Her students panicked and threatened to leave the college. At least one student followed through and withdrew from the Medical Assistant program a month before the end of the semester.
Dixie Ford, a medical assisting instructor with more than 30 years of experience, was fired by MCC on Nov. 7 and is pictured here holding up her termination letter. Her students panicked and threatened to leave the college. At least one student followed through and withdrew from the Medical Assistant program a month before the end of the semester.
Christina Sumner, left, and Amber Havenner were worried that all of the hard work they put into the semester would be for nothing, as fear of work not counting was rampant among the program’s students.
Christina Sumner, left, and Amber Havenner were worried that all of the hard work they put into the semester would be for nothing, as fear of work not counting was rampant among the program’s students.

Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter

Several students enrolled in the Medical Assistant program at Mohave Community College in Kingman have been unhappy with the program for some time now, but their frustrations boiled over when Dixie Ford, the one instructor they say they could count on, was fired on Nov. 7.

The firing of Ford created confusion and anger among students, and initially many contemplated withdrawing from the program mid-semester and re-taking the classes at another college. At least one student followed that course of action.

Others decided to stick it out for a semester or two because they're close to finishing the program, but they maintain that the school is setting them up to fail and once they're out they're not coming back.

"Dixie was the light at the end of the tunnel," said Amber Havenner, an honors student enrolled in the program who plans on pursuing a degree in nursing at another college.

MCC released a statement saying the school's actions are aimed at helping the program.

"The decisions that have been made this semester regarding the Medical Assistant program have all been made in the interest of accommodating the students' needs for classroom success and competency in the workforce," the statement read.

The college's marketing director told the Miner that employees would not be available for interviews and required all questions to be submitted in writing.

The healthcare industry is a huge part of Mohave County's economic base, said Jen Miles, the workforce development manager at the Mohave County Community One-Stop Career Center - and MCC is the primary trainer for healthcare professionals in the county, she added.

Ford worked for the college for three semesters, but she has more than 30 years of experience teaching medical assisting at several private schools. She had decided to resign from her position at the end of the semester because of what she described as a lack of supplies in the clinical classes, questions about her teaching methods and poor treatment from department heads.

"I fought the system on behalf of the students," Ford said. But she decided it was a losing battle and went to the associate dean of instruction, Michael Rourke, to put in her resignation. She said he talked her out of it.

The very next day, she received a letter from him that said she was fired "due to incidences of improper classroom instruction."

"Dixie is by far the best teacher I've ever had," said Christina Sumner, a student in Ford's Anatomy and Physiology class.

Havenner agreed.

"I was terrified of (the) anatomy (class)," she said. "But with Dixie, it got to where I was looking forward to the class every day. I would go in an hour early just to speak with Dixie and get help."

Students said Ford didn't just teach straight out of the book. Instead, she used real-life situations to explain not only the "what" and "how" of medical assisting, but also the "why."

"I just wanted to teach and send students out to the real world ready to go," Ford said. "Students need to be able to do things right, know why they're doing these things and be able to talk to patients about it."

Havenner and Sumner said they were told by the campus' academic chair, Robert Lorek, that the school expects half of the students enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology to fail the course, which wasn't the case with Ford.

Havenner and Sumner said he told them that Ford was basically too easy on her students.

Faculty member Melody Redman took over Ford's classes.

Students said they were told by Redman on the first day she took over that the work done under Ford would not be counted toward their grades. This created the initial panic. Since then, students have been told that the work they completed earlier in the semester would indeed count, but it was too late for Patty Jones, a student in the program taking one of Ford's clinical classes.

She withdrew from the program about a week after Ford's firing despite needing to complete this semester and one more to finish the program.

"I cannot afford a failure on my transcripts," Jones said. She plans to attend the Pima Medical Institute in Las Vegas in the spring.

She blames Redman for her decision to leave.

"She refuses to help and is very disrespectful to students," Jones said. "If you ask her a question, she looks at you like you're an idiot."

Other students agreed, saying that they struggle to learn in an unnecessarily harsh academic environment that discourages learning.

The school denied a request to interview Redman and instead released the following statement: "Ms. Redman is concerned and focused on the success of the students in the Medical Assistant program and is working along with the dean of instruction and the academic chair to assure that each student has the opportunity for success.

"Melody is a licensed practical nurse with 32 years of nursing experience and many years of teaching experience, including three years as associate faculty for MCC. She is more than qualified to teach these classes, which teach the basic skills needed by assistants in medical offices."

Students in the Anatomy and Physiology class received a letter from the college informing them that Ford's original syllabus would be followed for the entire course.

But Sumner and Havenner said they were surprised when they saw their grades, which were available Monday for the first time since Ford was fired. The way the grades were being calculated had completely changed and had the women fearing they were headed for failing grades, despite the strong grades they pulled while Ford was there.

Both Havenner and Sumner approached Redman about the grades, but they say she blamed Angel, the computer program used by the college to post grades.

"If they don't change this, we will fail," Sumner said.

According to the college, Redman addressed the students' concerns when they approached her.

The students also approached Jill Loveless, the school's dean of instruction, about the grading issue. Sumner said Loveless told them that Redman must follow the syllabus and promised to speak to her about it.

According to MCC, "Some technical issues regarding the Angel course management system are being addressed. It defaults to a weighted percentage instead of a points system, which is the standard. When Melody Redman took over the class, she gave several quizzes and began recording the scores in Angel so the students would have access to their information. Those scores were recorded under the weighted percentage system by mistake."

The problem has been resolved, but the students call it another example of students panicking because of not being sure whether or not their grades and hard work would be honored. If Redman had been more receptive and willing to explain exactly what was happening, Havenner said, students would've had no reason to complain.

All of the students interviewed said that their classmates feel the same way about the program but didn't want to come forward for fear of being retaliated against by the college. There are 87 students enrolled in the program on the Kingman campus and 280 enrolled college-wide.

The college paints a different picture, stating that students refused to follow its grievance policy and maintaining that once officials learned that students were unhappy, they took steps to show them the plan and smooth out the transition.

According to the college, "MCC cares deeply about every student's academic success."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Article comment by: Scott Farkus9

You are correct Jenive Light.
In all fairness, a follow-up story is in order. Maybe a retraction is a bit much, but stories like this (where people can go off half-cocked) are what the Miner does. It sells newspapers.

Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012
Article comment by: Jenive Light

Maybe this Reporter should have verified with the State Board of Nursing? KPD Police Reports? and Civil Courts? All public records
Maybe MCC had justification for terminating this so-call teacher!

Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012
Article comment by: Amberlee James

If the job front is anything like MCC then I dont think many of you students need to worry. My son has been trying to get a job since early this year and has a state license, NOT ONE SOUL, NOT ONE PLACE OR HOSPITAL HAS CALLED HIM BACK. I think its discusting!!! Now, to fire a great teacher, that well for lack of words and to be nice that just takes the cake!

Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012
Article comment by: New Management Needed

How childish and underhanded to convince a teacher to stay only to hand them a termination letter the next day.

This speaks volumes about the people who, unfortunately, have been hired to run MCC.

The college is already in a public relations kerfuffle. Yet the buffoons who should know better continue to drag this poor college through the mud.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Person Unknown

I'm at current MA student.
Dixie wanted nothing but the best for her students and wanted us to be the best Medical Assistants. She has such passion and dedication for what we do. Dixie had a lot of experience in the medical assistant field. She was the best teacher the ma program ever had. None of her students were afraid to ask her questions, she was always right there if we needed her even with a classroom full of students. She made learning fun and exciting again for me and I haven't felt that way about school in a while. I couldn't wait to go to her class and learn. The day I found out Dixie was let go I was very sad to watch her no longer teach there and angry that MCC-MA program decided to give us a new teacher when there was only 4 weeks left of school. They should of let her finish the rest of this semester. Having a teacher take over right at the end of the semester was NOT the best decision. It caused a lot of confusion and really disrupted our learning. Not only that but a lot of stress for those who are about to head to externship. We (or at least for me) I am struggling to make sure all assignments are done and that I am fully prepared to take my final.

I absolutely do not recommend attending MCC to anyone. Especially since a previous teacher had called me lazy and stupid and a school consular there told me that I didn't care about school and that my family didn't matter in life. Good job MCC for faking about caring about students. I even went through the chain of command to report this indecent and they basically told me to get over it and finish the class.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Christina Sumner

Redman addressed the concerns! That did not happen ! If she had we would not have had to go to the paper. Also as students we should have never had to worry about our grades to begin with ! As students we pay our fees and expect to get an education. We should not continue to get information that is incorrect. A teacher should not be fired 4 weeks to end of a semester and the students left to fight for what they have earned ! To the nursing student who said " SUCK IT UP " you should know I stand up for what i believe in. I live in the real world and where I come from we are told to STAND FOR SOMETHING OR FALL FOR ANYTHING !

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Wilbur Cohen

What is MCC afraid of? Let Kearns or Lingenfelter stand up and answer questions regarding student services. This seems to be a never ending problem, rotten customer service. Creating a wonderful website or building more buildings is not the answer. Customer service is the answer. Treating instructors like gold and student as golden customers is the top priority. Rhetoric and cronyism seems to be the unopposed Board member's top priority.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Old Desert Woman

Listening to all these comments makes me think that the Mohave County gov is just corrupt. Any body who gets paid more than the median income becomes a bully who sees themselves as above everyone else. They need new administration to give these students a chance in life. Let's get involved people and make our community better.

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012
Article comment by: Shannon Hensley

Without giving too much identifying info, I, too, have had many, many, MANY troubles with MCC. Their "concerned" comments are from some manual on how to talk to the media.
Administrators have been very rude and condescending to those paying their salaries.
I am in the process of filing further action against them for their very poor educational methods.
The crew replacing Mrs. Ford doesn't want to be there, and one actually throws chocolates at students to get their attention.
We are not panicking we are livid and beyond angry at the waste of our time and resources.
I'm personally angry I ever set foot in this school...

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Medical Student

What about the grading system now? This semester I was told the grading system changed for all programs. Not true, just the medical programs. Proving they have set up student to fail!

I was one of those student that had trouble with the FA dept. receiving my FA in November the semester is almost over by then. Creating a financial hardship for me for most of the current semester.

This needs to change !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Lady Gaga

I'm a student in the M.A. program at MCC, and all I know is that MCC has done nothing put stick it to us students! You know we pay for our classes, then we also pay additional lab fee's and for what??? Those lab fees sure don't go toward supplies for the M.A. program thats for sure. And then they fire the best teacher anybody could ask for. And then to make us go back and redo all the work we did with Ms. Dixie, it isn't happening. Kick me out of the program, let them try, because if they do they'll wish they never had in the end.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: A Former Student

I am a student at MCC and can say that is it EXTREMELY frustrating to work as a single parent and go to school and get all of the unprofessional run around that the administration does to its student body. Constantly giving wrong information on what courses are needed or not and then you find out that you have wasted a whole semester because of wrong information!! The school is only concerned with the board making their money- not the students!!!
KUDOS to the two students that have stepped forward publicly and kudos to the Miner for doing this story. (but I am sure you could find other stories there!!!)
Major accountability and transparency needs to be done through out the whole college and all it"s programs!!!

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: We Demand MCC Allow Any Employee to Speak to The Media if They Choose

And what is this that one of the instructors is not allowed to speak to the media. Who is behind this kind of policy at an academic institution. If the administration is concerned that an instructor isn't able to be interviewed without making a fool out of themselves or MCC, they shouldn't have been hired to begin with. We are talking higher education here folks. The school board MUST intercede. The board must take whoever is responsible for squashing freedom of speech at MCC to task. The board must end such policies immediately.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: We Demand MCC Spokesman Be Available to Answer All Verbal Questions from the Media

" director told the Miner that employees would not be available for interviews and required all questions to be submitted in writing." Excuse me! This is a COMMUNITY college and we, the community expect there to be a spokesperson ready at all times to answer the press' questions.

Where are the board members that allow this kind of nonsense?

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: MCC Graduate and Alumni

I attended MCC for 4 years and the only problems I had were dealing with FA. I just did my work, passed my classes, and graduated without complaining about this or complaining about that. I didn't have any issues but I know that several students do with the way things are ran there and they shouldn't have to shut their mouths and deal with it because if this school is truly about the students and cares about its students then they should listen to the instructors and those that attend to better their education.
To the person who goes by the name So What... apparently you have never been in a situation like this so when you do, I hope people just tell you "so what" since you're so quick say that to those who care.
I do think that the submission of questions in writing is a tad absurd. Makes them sound scare of verbal communication, when i thought college was suppose to help teach students communication especially of the verbal persuasion. Leaves me to wonder what is the goal of MCC and what are they trying to achieve, if not higher learning.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Mohave Community College

For clarification, Medical Assist is a large program (280 students or about 6% of the college population), but far from the largest at MCC. Nursing, for one, is much larger. For further clarification, the college does not restrict any employee from speaking with the media, only from speaking as the college. Responses to the newspaper are made in writing to help prevent misquoting or misinterpretation of information.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Amber Havenner

How many students are enrolled in this program? How many of them are in panic mode? How does this relate to worthy front peg headline news?
@ Dave Powers: The Medical Assisting program is the largest program MCC has. How many students are panicking? Well there are a total of 20 in the A & P class alone plus however many there are in the clinical class that was also involved in this situation. It's front page news because where else do students in Kingman get their college education from? MCC is the only campus here, if it does not change there will be less students willing to attend that college. That means less MA's to act as a liaison between you and your doctor is that really what you want? The MA is the one that actually listens to your concerns!
How would you feel if you were a student there and were told you had 4 weeks to repeat an ENTIRE semester? Really you wouldn't panic and be angry? Or if it were your child and you paid for their education? I honestly don't believe that your response would be "So what" if it was your's or your child's education and money on the line.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Former Employee and Student

When I worked at MCC, there were numerous scandals circulating. The marketing department sent out emails to all staff stating that they were not to speak to any media representatives and that doing so would be grounds for termination.

What happened to Dixie sounds spot on. If she was indeed fighting for supplies and headbutting with administration her time was limited. Anyone who does not adhere to the status quo gets fired or is forced to resign.

The college is concerned with maintaining a minimal operational cost. While this can be a good thing, with MCC it tends to undermine the education of its students.

As a student, I have had better luck with registration, FA, and other departments, but I believe that is only because of my knowledge of the inner workings as a previous employee.

For the college to say that they are concerned with the students is ridiculous. They are concerned with their financial aid not being denied by the government if they end up with low retention rates. Their comments are disingenuous.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: a student at MCC

I am a student in the Nursing program and all i can say is SUCK IT UP!! things happen deal with it. if you dont like how the administratin is running your job are you going to run to the news paper? GOOD LUCK in the real world

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: JIST A DAD OF AN MCC STUDENT

it all goes to the dentist.

being qualified to teach, and able to teach are two entirely different things. they need the people who are able.

Unfortunately my son is a student at MCC to get a few credits needed for University, he gets absolutely no help. He has trouble in math and is told he should have learned that in high school. If he had grasped it well enough in hs he would not be at MCC. unfortunately we cant afford to have him at Yavapai.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Dave Powers

How many students are enrolled in this program? How many of them are in panic mode? How does this relate to worthy front peg headline news?

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Patty Jones

Yes every college has problems, But MCC has way to many they are making it impossible for student to finish the schooling. The only reason the miner gets involved is because we as conserned students go to them hoping the school will see this and make a change for the better.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Wake Up

@ So What

"Every college has problems like this."

Does every college have problems like an inmate having sex with a MCC employee on campus inmates drinking on campus to the point of intoxication (both incidents occurred on the BHC campus in '09 - see Miner's previous stories) industrial accident resulting in the death of an employee retaliation and wrongful termination of employees (multiple) discrimination questionable involvement concerning criminal prosecution for "threats" made by students inappropraite human resources procedures, etc. I think NOT!

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Sounds just like the way many county offices are run. No surprise here.

I long for the old days when offices here were run with respect for fellow employees and keen concern for attending to customers and schools where classes were also taught with great respect and expectation that the best would be taught to the students who in turn would blossom with knowledge and self confidence.

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Article comment by: Run by Clowns

As a student of MCC, I can attest that dealing with this college has been a exercise in frustration. Classes removed from my schedule without notice, Financial Aid debacles, rude advisers, the whole medical assisting program changed with zero notice to students... the list goes on and on.

I don't think too many are buying the "We care about the students" bull.

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