Faculty, staff and students train to lead in Chicago Quarter Program

Jeff Carrion, CQP
As a digital media specialist at DePaul, Jeff Carrion, center, has photographed a number of excursions for the Chicago Quarter Program, including a canoe trip for the course, 'Chicago: City on the Lake.' This fall, Carrion will join the program as a staff professional for one of the program's teaching teams, a position he and his fellow teaching team members have trained for throughout spring 2018. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
Since 1994, DePaul's Chicago Quarter Program has strived to introduce first-year students to the university and provide them with the skills and resources to succeed during their time on campus. One reason the program has been successful for nearly 25 years is the diverse teaching teams that lead each course and the months of extensive training they each receive.

"Our ultimate goal with the program is to help DePaul's newest students successfully transition to Chicago, DePaul and life as a college students," says Doug Long, director of the First-Year Program. "One of the easiest ways to do that is to provide them with informed mentors who can help them build habits for success."

A team made up of one faculty member, staff professional and student mentor teach in each of the more than 100 sections available within the Chicago Quarter Program. A design unique to DePaul, each member of the teaching team offers students a different perspective on the university.

Though faculty already have experience teaching, most staff and student mentors are new to that side of the classroom. To help prepare them for their new roles, staff and students participate in a training series throughout the spring quarter, developed by the Office of New Student and Family Engagement that culminates with DePaul's annual Best Practices Conference in May.

"Sometimes staff don't get to interface with students, so the Chicago Quarter Program is a great way for them to bridge that gap," Long says. "With that, we want to make the experience the best we can for all parties involved. Through the spring training series, staff and student mentors learn how to conduct lessons as well as the various university resources available to students - such as counseling services and the new cultural centers. They also learn about the high-impact practices and academic success skills that help college students thrive."

Beyond the spring training series for staff and student mentors, the teaching teams gather together  to learn and plan at the annual Best Practices Conference. Speakers at this year's conference included faculty, staff and CQP alumni from across the university, and Jennifer Keup, director of the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. Breakout sessions during the conference allowed teaching teams to learn more about specific topics, ranging from how to get students involved on campus to enhancing accessibility and inclusion in the classroom.

"I've always been in touch with DePaul's mission, but being part of the CQP and seeing the level of detail New Student and Family Engagement has put into every aspect of training has really shown me how much we care for our students and strive to instill our Vincentian values into them as soon as they walk through our door," says Jeff Carrion, a digital media specialist in the Office of Public Relations and Communications. Carrion will participate in the Chicago Quarter Program for the first time this fall.

"With young children of my own, I know firsthand the value in mentoring young people and allowing them to explore and discover new things. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to work directly with new students and help them acclimate to DePaul and Chicago," he says.