As Past Times Go By, Instructor Asks: “How Do I Make History Come to Life?”

Dale Pluciennik has always been fascinated by history, from ancient to modern times. That’s why he enjoys teaching U.S. history at San Marcos High School and also serving as a UC San Diego Extension instructor in “Culture and Inclusion” and “U.S. Constitution Preparation Course and Examination.”

A San Diego State University history graduate – with an emphasis on Colonial Latin America, North America and European Imperialism – Pluciennik has taught at the K-12 level as a substitute teacher and led graduate seminars at SDSU. He completed his prerequisite teaching courses at UC San Diego Extension, “which I’m grateful for because it helped me get my current job.”

Q: What fascinates you most about learning and teaching history?

A: For me, it’s the cultural interaction between peoples. My challenge as a teacher, which I love doing, is just, how do I make history come to life? Depending on the time period, I try to put my students back in time, giving them a more empathetic, relevant approach, as if they were there.

Q: How do you do that?

A: Well, I’m pretty energetic in the classroom, and they seem to connect to that. Like the old saying goes, you’re 50 percent educator and 50 percent entertainer, especially in high school. If your students don’t buy into you as a person, they won’t buy into your subject matter, no matter what you say. That’s simply the reality.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

A: Every day, one or more of my students will do and say something that just cracks me up. They’re always trying to keep me apprised of the latest trends in pop culture. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

Q: What’s your family background? Did that influence your interest in history?

A: I was born and raised in Ramona, so I’m one of the few San Diego natives. When I was very young, my maternal grandmother, who was from Canada, told me stories about her family’s history. That’s what first got me interested in history. And my father was a Polish refugee from Germany who was born in a forced labor camp. Last summer, he took my brother and I back to where he was born in the small German town of Gehofen and told us stories of his childhood. That was our living history lesson.

Q: If you could go back in time, what period of history would you like to live in?

A: You know, I have to admit that I’m one of those guys who hates Renaissance Faires, for example. Compared to us, they really had it pretty bad back then. I like living in the here and now. For one thing, I have immediate access to learning about history in my smart-phone device. That’s one big advantage we have over previous cultures.

Q: These appear to be difficult times for teachers. Do you feel that way?

A: With all the changes in curriculum and everything else, I still feel as I did when I started at San Marcos High School. Good teaching is good teaching. The key is being able to connect with your students. I hope to teach well into my 60s, about 27 years from now.


English Language Instructors’ Song of Welcome: “We Will, We Will Teach You…”

A SONG FOR YOU: ELI instructors Laura Bozanich and Tony Carnerie sang their greeting.

A SONG FOR YOU: ELI instructors Laura Bozanich and Tony Carnerie sang their greeting.

UC San Diego Extension’s English Language Institute (ELI) welcomed more than 600 international students this week for its Fall ’14 academic programs.

On Tuesday, Sept. 23, several hundred students were officially greeted by staff and instructors in the ELI courtyard.

After director Roxanne Nuhaily delivered her opening remarks, instructors Laura Bozanich and Tony Carnerie led their colleagues with a rousing rendition of Queen’s classic rock anthem, “We Will Rock You.”

To the students’ delight, the lyrics were changed slightly to be: “We Will, We Will Teach You … (pause) English!”

ELI classes will continue over the next ten weeks.

Pathways to a Healthier Night’s Sleep: “Changing Lives with Every Breath”

Mark Wixom: "Many people simply aren’t aware of the potentially serious health risks caused by sleep disorders."

Mark Wixom: “Many people simply aren’t aware of the potentially serious health risks caused by sleep disorders.”

Mark Wixom’s company, ResMed, makes sure its millions of customers get a good night’s sleep, uninterrupted by potentially serious health ailments that often go undetected.

Founded in 1989, ResMed develops, manufactures and distributes sophisticated devices that treat sleep-disordered breathing and other respiratory conditions.

As ResMed’s director of continuous improvement, Wixom oversees the use of standard improvement methods with departmental change agents driving efficiency initiatives.

Wixom, a graduate of Texas A&M University in business management, has been with the firm since 2002, when he was hired as Director of Customer Service. He completed his UC San Diego Extension Specialized Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification in 2010.

Q: What exactly is the concept of continuous improvement?

A: Continuous Improvement is designed to help grow the business more efficiently. Our improvement motto is “eliminate waste, create time and achieve more,” based on the principles of Lean Six Sigma.

Q: Looking back, what did you learn that’s helped you in your current role?

A: The courses helped me significantly increase my knowledge base, in all areas. The whole idea is problem-solving as well as making the most of opportunities. We focus developing those skills throughout the organization.

Q: How would you describe ResMed’s corporate mission?

A: We’re in the business of breathing. We believe we are “Changing lives with every breath.” It’s a great feeling to work for a company that helps improve the quality of so many lives.

Q: Does your role require medical expertise or training?

A: My background is in business management and not clinical expertise. My role is all about improving our business operations and pursing operational excellence.

Q: What are the medical conditions that can be diagnosed through sleep disorders?

A: Left untreated, sleep apnea can heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). When people ask me, I encourage them to ask their doctor about it and always invite them to check out our website,, for more information.

Q: How do your devices help alleviate these sleep disorders?

A: We offer a full range of medical devices. Our product line will treat and manage respiratory disorders to include sleep apnea, obstructive and restrictive disease breathing disorders, pediatric to adult age. It’s one of the most under-diagnosed conditions out there. And most insurance providers will cover these devices.

Q: Could you describe what happens in sleep apnea?

A: Obstructive sleep apnea describes a disorder in which you stop breathing temporarily while you’re sleeping. It may be for up to 10 to 20 seconds or longer. Your oxygen level goes down, and a signal is sent to the control center in your brain, triggering you to wake up just enough to gasp for air and start breathing again.

Q: How often does that occur, for the condition to be potentially dangerous?

A: The cycle can repeat itself up to dozens of times or more during the night, and you may not even remember any of this happening. Many people simply aren’t aware of the potentially serious health risks caused by sleep disorders. Everyone should ask their doctor and look into other sources of information to learn more. As our company founder, Peter Farrell, has said: “Our biggest competitor is ignorance.”

Content Creation and the Rise of Digital Media

WritingWhat do Mashable, Pitchfork, and the Blogess have in common? They’re all lucrative and renowned online media ventures for one. But most notably, they all started small—and got big through the savvy use of digital media.

Becoming the next Mashable is a lot harder than it used to be. Since anyone with internet access can be a content creator, there’s a sea of options for users to wade through.

Expertise in a particular subject or a unique voice can draw readers in, but in today’s competitive and rapidly changing media industry, it takes a diverse set skills to see growth, make money, and become an influencer.

“Today’s marketing continues to be more visual. It’s not enough to be able to entice someone with your writing abilities.” says Kelly Bennett, an instructor in the Digital Media Content Creation program at UC San Diego Extension. “You also have to really grab them with an interesting or powerful visual to stop them from ‘scrolling’ over your content.”

Utilizing a variety of digital media attracts audiences because it feeds the senses. Great writing is important, but graphics, professional-quality photos, videos, and social media engage the eyes, ears and mind. Media separates successful sites apart from the rest.

Digital media also adds information to content. In an age where data is more easily collected and interpreted than ever, an infographic illustrates the big picture. A photo puts the reader in the scene. Videos and audio add a layer of engagement.

In short, digital media creates value if it’s rich. It can make people smarter, provide entertainment, lead to consumers to identify with your brand, and even influence the market.

Demand for savvy digital media professionals has skyrocketed in this post digital revolution world.

”Consider reading digital content like a mass text message from a business. You are reaching thousands, sometimes millions of your audience all in one Tweet. It is an invaluable resource for today’s businesses,” says Bennett.

The Digital Media Content Creation program teaches you how to reach those millions. Classes include instruction on writing for web audiences, graphic design, photography, business development, and more.

Having digital media skills in one’s tool belt will open doors. Not only can you create a standout personal brand, you can also be a competitive candidate for any job within the rapidly expanding digital media industry.

All of the courses are available online, which offers flexibility for busy professionals. A selection of courses are is also held onsite each quarter for San Diego students. A certificate can be earned in 4-8 quarters if 1 or 2 classes courses are taken each quarter.

Learn more  >

A Caseload of Seeking Justice: “It’s My Job to Represent the Best Interests of the State”

As a long-time prosecutor and deputy district attorney, Richard J. Sachs has always been focused on a singular task: to seek justice. “That’s the main reason I do what I do,” he says, reflecting on his nearly 30-year career with the San Diego District Attorney’s office, headed by Bonnie Dumanis.

Richard Sachs: "For me, teaching turns the clock back a hundred years."

Richard Sachs: “For me, teaching turns the clock back a hundred years.”

An English Literature graduate of Chicago’s Loyola University and John Marshall Law School, he has been an instructor in UC San Diego Extension’s paralegal program for 10 years. Currently, he’s teaching Criminal Law & Procedure and Evidence Law.

Q: In your career with the district attorney’s office, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about yourself and the law?

A: Probably that you never stop learning. You’re always learning new variations of things you thought you already knew. You always have to continue practicing the practice of law.

Q: What’s your specialty with the DA’s office?

A: I focus on parole hearings for those offenders who are coming up for parole after serving long periods in prison.

Q: So it’s your job to make sure they’ve served enough time before being released?

A: It’s my job to represent the best interests of the state. Most of the time, yes, we don’t want them to be released. We want to make reasonably sure they’ve served enough time for the crime or crimes they have committed.

Q: What is your level of empathy?

A: It’s only for the victims. Every crime leaves behind a victim. Sometimes, you can understand why they committed their crimes, because of a bad childhood or something like that. But in this office, we always have more sympathy for the victims.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching at UC San Diego Extension?

A: What you teach is twice learned. I’ve always believed that. It’s a chance to stay on top of your field and interact with students who are taking paralegal courses for the first time. It invigorates you, forces you to stay on top of your game.

Q: What lessons do you hope they learn?

A: The basic fundamentals of law, how to be resourceful, how to get to the bottom of things. As paralegal students, they need far less in-depth legal knowledge than a lawyer would need. Most of all, they need the basic principles, so they can speak the language. I teach the basic fundamentals and problem-solving skills.

Q: What are the psychological benefits for you of being an instructor?

A: Teaching slows down my life. Everyday life is so hurried and fast. Our lives are taken up with computers, iPads, smart phones – every conceivable means to avoid slow, deliberate human interaction and face-to-face conversation with real people. For me, teaching turns the clock back a hundred years. It’s just you and the students, talking about fundamental concepts in an ancient discipline – the law.


Extension Students from Indonesia to Perform Two Music and Dance Programs: “A Rare Opportunity”

9-23-14 PHOTO, INDONESIA2All 156 Indonesian students who are currently attending Extension’s English Language Institute are also members of a cultural performance troupe that celebrates the art, music and culture of their native land.

The renowned troupe, whose study-abroad program is sponsored by the International Islamic Education Council (IIEC) of Indonesia, has performed in Canada and other countries in years past and will be performing in a U.S. venue this year for the first time.

Performing together, they will present “Discover the Radiance of the Equatorial Emerald” on Saturday, Sept. 27, from 7 pm to 9 pm, at the downtown Spreckels Theatre (121 Broadway Street, San Diego, CA 92101).   They will perform again on Friday, Oct. 3, from 3 pm to 5 pm, at UC San Diego’s Mandeville Auditorium.

Both performances are free to the public, based on IIEC’s desire to give back to the community hosting its students during their study-abroad experience.

9-23-14 PHOTO, INDONESIA2“We are so proud that the IIEC chose San Diego to make their American debut,” said Roxanne Nuhaily, director of Extension’s International Programs. “This is a rare opportunity for the San Diego community to experience a unique and exciting performance of Indonesian music and dance.”

An archipelago comprised of more than 17,000 islands with some 300 different ethnic groups, Indonesia has a multi-faceted cultural identity shaped by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, and European influences.

Both shows are presented free and open to the public. Seats are limited, so registration via Eventbrite is necessary.


Extension’s Clinical Trials Program Aligns with Puebla University: “We Can All Learn From Each Other”

UC San Diego Extension’s Healthcare Department has announced a continuing education agreement with Universidad de las Américas in Puebla, Mexico to partner on delivering a Certificate program in Clinical Trials.

Leonel Villa-Caballero: "Our program has been fully adapted for the cultural and professional context of Latin America."

Leonel Villa-Caballero:
“Our program has been fully adapted for the cultural and professional context of Latin America.”

Clinical Trials in Latin America – a certificate which is offered online and in Spanish– has been available for the past five years. The new agreement with Puebla makes access to and knowledge of the program for students and clinical professionals in Mexico even more available.

“Our program has been fully adapted for the cultural and professional context of Latin America,” said UC San Diego Extension instructor Leonel Villa-Caballero, MD, PhD, the program director. “In this way, we can all learn from each other.”

A physician and clinical researcher with a background in internal medicine, endocrinology-metabolism and public health, Villa-Caballero is currently a researcher in Family and Preventive Medicine at the UCSD School of Medicine.

According to Villa-Caballero, the city of Puebla has become a magnet for pharmaceutical and biotech companies in Latin America, North America, and Europe, especially those looking to implement new and innovative products through clinical trials.

Clinical trials are held to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of proposed medications or medical devices by testing and monitoring their effects on large groups of people. Trials involve proposed, non-market pharmaceutical products that are intended to cure or ease the dilatory effects of such diseases as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, osteoporosis as well as cardiovascular and rheumatoid illnesses, and others.

Located southeast of Mexico City with a metro population of 2.6 million, Puebla is the largest city in the Mexican state of Puebla.


From Jazz Camp to Montreux to New York: “I’m Going to See What Happens”

Tommy Holladay: "For right now, I’m ready to take my music as far as I can go.”

Tommy Holladay: “For right now, I’m ready to take my music as far as I can go.”

Like so many aspiring creative artists before him, jazz guitarist Tommy Holladay finds himself amid the bright lights of the big city – New York City.

“I’m just trying to make my living by playing music,” said Holladay, who moved to the Big Apple several weeks ago.

“Most of my musician friends are here, I have some money saved up and I’m going to see what happens.

He brings with him newly-earned chops: Earlier this summer, he was among 10 semi-finalists in a world-wide electric guitar competition for professional guitarists.

The event was held in Montreux, Switzerland, as part of the famed Montreux Jazz Festival.

Holladay, a three-time alumnus of UC San Diego Extension’s annual Jazz Camp, is a multi-faceted musician who enjoys playing pop, rock, blues and “a little” classical.

But jazz is his passion.

“[Guitarist] Wes Montgomery was definitely one of my first influences, but I have a much more contemporary, aggressive style,” he said. “I would say I am more influenced by [saxophone legend] John Coltrane because he can play so sensitively but he also can play so raw, bluesy, and intensely.”

SOUL ORGANIZATION: Mark Holladay (organ) jams with son Tommy on guitar. On drrums is Griffin Isner, who's a Jazz Camp alum along with Tommy.

A SOULFUL ORGANIZATION: Mark Holladay (on organ) jams with son Tommy on guitar. On drums is Griffin Kisner, a Jazz Camp alum along with Tommy.

Holladay, 25, is now ready to spread his musical wings. In May, he completed his master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. That followed his undergraduate studies at the Berklee College of Music, another acclaimed Boston music school.

His father, Mark, himself a noted blues organist, couldn’t be more proud of his son’s chosen career path.

“I’m especially happy that he’s starting to fulfill his dream of being in New York,” said Mark, vice president of drug discovery and medicinal chemistry at San Diego’s Ambit Biosciences. “He’s starting to rub elbows with the best musicians in the world.”

As for how Mark’s musical prowess compares with his son’s, the father puts it this way: “He surpassed me at about age 14 or so. He’s got natural talent and a huge amount of determination. He’s worked very hard to achieve his high level.”

A graduate of Scripps Ranch High School, Tommy credits Extension’s Jazz Camp with inspiring him to grow as a musician and composer.

“One of my instructors [Geoffrey Keezer], challenged me to write my first jazz song ever,” he recalled. “I had written other songs in the past, but they were rock.  It turned out to be the first time in the history of Jazz Camp that an ensemble performed a student’s song at a recital. The experience of performing my song was very fulfilling. ”

Along with pursuing nightclub gigs and teaching private guitar lessons in New York, he’s also taking a few online classes from Harvard in computer programming.

“I don’t know if I’m going to pursue computer programing as a career,” said Tommy. “For right now, I’m ready to take my music as far as I can go.”

  • Datebook: Mark Holladay’s group, Soul ORGANization, welcomes featured guest Tommy Holladay. Friday, Sept. 26, 9: 30 pm, Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, 3054 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104.


Extension’s Annual Career Showcase: And a Hovering Quadcopter Shall Lead Them


GREETINGS: UC San Diego Extension’s Natalie Johnson welcomes attendees at the Continuing Education & Career Showcase. Photos courtesy of Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego Publications staff photographer


WHIRLING DERVISH: The quadcopter drone proved a popular sight, both in flight and at rest.







UC San Diego Extension presented its annual “Continuing Education & Career Showcase” on Thursday night, Sept. 18, attracting nearly 400 attendees, most of whom seek to enhance their current careers or chart a new career path.

A total of 14 career workshops were presented by Extension instructors, including those on Career Opportunities in Sustainability; Career Advancement; Careers in Marketing; and Healthcare Master’s Degree Programs.

A session on Innovative Technologies in Engineering featured a live demonstration of a quadcopter drone in flight. Sized at about 24 inches wide and 12 inches high, the device features four small, spinning propellers that kept it aloft. Its hovering movements were dictated by a technician holding a remote control monitor, much like a model aircraft.

The device came equipped with a mounted GoPro camera, developed by acclaimed inventor Nick Woodman, a UC San Diego graduate whose world-wide company is now valued at nearly $3 billion.

Extension’s “Continuing Education & Career Showcase” was held at Extension’s UCC campus.


More Than a Village: Exploring the Dynamics of School-Community Engagement

Morgan P. Appel, Director, Education Department

Effective community engagement is the lifeblood of the educational endeavor. Even those reforms foisted upon institutions from on high require broader buy-in from those impacted by sea changes (or incremental changes) in education. For the most part, our schools do a decent job of soliciting involvement from parents and communities. On many occasions these ventures involve cultivating resources to support particular activities or interests—but empirically, we find that master plans for involvement fall by the wayside in the shadow of equally compelling instructional or staffing issues. Too often, we find that involvement comes on an ‘as-needed’ basis and that retrenchment and shortfalls preclude meaningful planning and execution of long-term strategies.

At a recent institutionally sponsored professional development conference, this topic was explored in some depth by Education Department staff and school faculty. Fundamental questions and themes revolved around bringing more stakeholders into the fold and creating social capital around instructional and community objectives. The audience was asked to consider challenges and barriers that might frustrate this process in an honest way—and not surprisingly, many pointed to a plentitude of ‘feel-good’ activities but with an undercurrent of community uncertainty about the school’s roles in the larger political landscape and in fostering genuine change. These reflective comments provided unique occasion to explore the essential characteristics of community engagement, namely:

  • Fluid and Dynamic
  • Contextually Grounded/Different for Every School
  • Loosely-Coupled and Shared
  • Reciprocal and Involving, Assets-Based
  • Accommodating and Welcoming, focused on Equity and Equality
  • May be Issues Focused/Needs-Based
  • Meaningful and Sustained (versus Interest/Connectedness)
  • Ambiguous at Times, Exact at Times
  • Difficult to Assess in Two Dimensions/Moving Target
  • Social Capital and Change Agentry (building support and capacity for change)
  • Lends Voice and Empowers
  • Rooted in the Culture of the School/Cultural Proficiency


Building from these characteristics, the assembled faculty examined metrics associated with community engagement—some fairly conventional, others not so much. They included the following:

  • Number and types of partnerships with local organizations
  • Perception and reputation of the school site and school community (beginning with local leaders and institutions)
  • Parent participation in school community events and boards/committees
  • Faculty staff participation in community events and organizations
  • Faculty and staff perceptions about involvement in community
  • Perceived impacts of the school and school community as part of the broader community (including trust)
  • Perceptions about access to school and school community
  • Outreach efforts by type and perceived impacts of those efforts
  • Articulated vision or plan for community engagement (including insight into those who crafted the vision/plan)
  • Cultural competency/proficiency measures and other assessments of engagement
  • Diversity of engaged stakeholders (same people all the time?)
  • Quality of engagement (ongoing/sporadic) and opportunities for leadership
  • ‘Flow’ of community engagement, including outreach and types of communication
  • ‘Place’ engagement holds within school community’s hierarchy of priorities
  • Slack and flexibility
  • Capacity to undertake community engagement activities at the site and at the local education agency
  • Meaningful opportunities for engagement (type and frequency)
  • Perceptions about leadership and power sharing within the school community
  • Sustainability and perceptions about sustainability
  • Time dedicated to the effort in the short- and longer term

Following these discussions, best practices in community engagement as defined by the academic literature and proven practice were reviewed in consideration of future implementation. These included the following:

  • Ensure that the school site and organizing agency commits time and resources to engagement and that engagement is a recognized and rewarded part of the job (capacity)
  • Site and organizing agency must have a clear message and vision for community engagement (even if a detailed plan is not in place)
  • Importance of context and changing circumstances
  • Be an observer and a listener before anything else (anthropologist / historian spirit)
  • Undertake pre-assessment activities prior to action to identify strengths and shortcomings in community engagement. Use members of the larger community to gather and make sense of data.
  • Consider who is at the table at the outset—and who is not there
  • Ongoing professional development in cultural competence for the entirety of the school community
  • Collaboratively developing a community engagement plan and associated metrics (living document)
  • Working with key members of the community to broaden the circle, including viable strategies (home visits, etc.)
  • Gradual build out using change agentry/social capital (start small and grow)—build foundations
  • Ongoing redefinition of community and successful community engagement
  • Ongoing assessment that identifies barriers to engagement (can be/should be led by community members for most honest responses)
  • Always customize based on a robust and informed understanding of community needs (no magic bullets)
  • Make long-term investments that become deeper and more sophisticated over time
  • Work cooperatively to help build capacity within the community beyond campus
  • Always Empower and use an Assets-Based perspective
  • Understand histories and power dynamics both within and outside of the school community
  • Attend to generational issues if and where they are present
  • Value peer-to-peer learning and power sharing (genuine)
  • Use proven community organizing approaches (local when possible)
  • Importance of two-way communication, facilitated by identified liaisons
  • Provide structured opportunities for intercultural interaction at the school site (synergies, shared experiences across cultures)
  • Promote community resources and provide guidance and support to families as needed
  • Avail transportation and child care and provide resources at low or no cost
  • Provide opportunities for the local community to better understand and navigate the education system, from K-20.
  • Use trainer of trainer model as engagements and trainings expand
  • Importance of culminating/closure events
  • Create campaign events that are sustained and ongoing
  • Involve the engaged community in policy efforts that are mutually beneficial and attend to the needs of the campus and its students (school house to state house)
  • Invest in trust and confidence building—always
  • Community building—always (and recognize definitions may change)
  • Use technologies wherever possible to cultivate virtual community

Broader practices and metrics discussed within the context of the presentation were believed to offer a solid foundation upon which to scaffold more localized and contextually sensitive efforts—both at the school and at the University.

For more information about this post, the presentation, or the Education Department’s work in schools, please contact Morgan Appel, Director, at


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