On May 15, 2019, BSAP Board Member Tracee Matthias was one of nine recipients awarded the Inaugural 2019 Excellence in Equity Award, presented by Montgomery College's President's Advisory Committee on Equity and Inclusion.
Ms. Tracee Matthias embraces the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion through her involvement with various groups and committees that are directly linked to the success of currently enrolled Montgomery College students and prospective future students. Since 2007, she has served on the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program (BSAP) Board of Directors. In 2019, Ms. Matthias provided the BSAP with technical support as they navigated the process of establishing a named scholarship that makes an annual $25,000 contribution to the Montgomery College Foundation (MCF). Future eligible scholars who enroll at Montgomery College will apply for BSAP funds using the MCF application. These scholars will simultaneously be considered for additional scholarships offered through MCF. For 12 years, BSAP has relied on Ms. Matthias’ business acumen and higher education expertise to advance student success.
Potential future Montgomery College students have benefited from Ms. Matthias grass roots efforts to address the projected STEAM worker shortage. Inspired by the summer STEAM camps operated at the College’s Center for Early Education, Ms. Matthias was awarded a Maryland State Department of Education grant to establish a robotics program at Takoma Park Elementary School. This early childhood education initiative brings coding and robotics instruction to over 400 first grade and second grade students with the primary goal of increasing the number of students who meet or exceed grade level proficiency targets in mathematics and reading. By the mid-year report, students in both grades exceeded the project goals related to mathematics and second grade students exceeded the goal related to reading. The grant will end at the conclusion of the school year, but the funded robotics supplies will remain with the school for future use. Ms. Matthias has reached out to East Silver Spring Elementary School and Piney Branch Elementary School to discuss the opportunity of establishing a robotics program at their school. She will also seek out a local corporate sponsor to fund these initiatives in future years.
Within the College, Ms. Matthias serves as the WD&CE Council chair and a member of the College Council. Her work in governance focuses on ensuring that students enrolled in noncredit courses have full access to the services and supports designed to help students succeed. Last year, she authored a council recommendation to expand part-time student assistant work opportunities to noncredit students. The recommendation was approved and is awaiting implementation from the Office of Administrative and Fiscal Services. This year, she is leading the council focused on access to student services and investigating where College courses are offered. Many noncredit students are in courses that serve as a bridge to the College’s certificate and degree programs. Ms. Matthias’ efforts in governance will help to strengthen that bridge for students and lift some of the institutional barriers that impede their success.
The recently chartered Montgomery College chapter of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) is led by Ms. Matthias. The AAWCC changes women’s lives through education, service and leadership development. The chapter embodies this mission through activities that “move beyond the food pantry”. Chapter members support the Student Health and Wellness (SHaW) Center for Success’ Mobile Market, Fuel for Success and feminine hygiene product collection drives. Ms. Matthias also wrote recommendation letters for students to be considered for national AAWCC scholarships and nominations for College employees to be honored with an Under 40 award for their contributions at community colleges.
Ms. Matthias has a keen talent of comprehending policies, procedures, best practices and explaining them to other audiences in terms they can understand. When issues are brought to her attention, she will strive to deeply understand the issues and assist with formulating a plan to address the concerns. For example, when the Early Childhood Education program director was invited to collaborate with two deans on a Maryland Department of Labor and Licensing Regulation EARN grant, Ms. Matthias coached her through the grant application and extended her support by joining the writing team to ensure the quality of instruction provided through the grant met the standards of the program director. The grant was funded, and this program director has gone on to acquire two additional grants and is meeting with funders about future awards. Ms. Matthias take on grants is that anyone can write them as long as they follow the rules in the application. She has planted a seed of grant writing confidence that has blossomed into multiple funded awards for the College.
Professional development is another area where Ms. Matthias advocates for others to become engaged. When she joined the professional development leave committee, she recruited three other people to join the committee. She encourages her peers to take advantage of every professional development opportunity that does not disrupt their ability to complete their work. Her encouragement led to a direct report completing a BS degree, continuing to achieve her master’s degree and presently studying for a doctorate. Both of her direct reports received promotions to program director positions as a result of their hard work and her advocacy for advancement. When two of the College’s childcare centers closed, she coached two staff on how to improve their resume and interview skills. Both were hired as lead teachers at the Center for Early Education on the Germantown campus. The team at the Educational Opportunity Center benefited from her open support of professional development. Five years after transitioning from leading the EOC, she continues to send resources to the EOC director to support her staff and program participants.
Ms. Matthias embraces the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She actively supports the success of everyone, especially our students and employees. Even when there is not a direct link to her daily duties, she commits to projects because they advance opportunities for student success. None of these accomplishments are going to appear on a performance evaluation, but the outcome of these activities is what keeps Ms. Matthias motivated to continue to serve our students.
Congratulations Tracee on your accomplishment and thank you for your years of service on the BSAP board!