April 18, 2005

High school counselors visit Columbus State

Amy Burrell, left, international student advisor, helps high school counselors select materials at the annual High School Appreciation Update Breakfast and Workshop, held April 15. Picking up brochures after attending a workshop on financial aid are, from left, Elaine Blair, Harvest Preparatory School; Margaret Sims, East High School; and Gwendolyn Williams, Walnut Ridge High School. The counselors were treated to a buffet breakfast, a videotaped Student Success Stories presentation, talks from Provost Mike Snider and Director of Admissions Tari Blaney, and a series of workshops on financial aid, student activities and athletics, international admissions, PSEO, academic advising, and health program admissions requirements. The annual event is coordinated by the Admissions Office.

Adjunct math instructor juggles laughs, life, logarithms


Whether he's teaching multivariable calculus or improvisational comedic acting, adjunct instructor George Caleodis is always using humor to get his message across.

Caleodis, 35, has been juggling his talents, his career and his multiple commitments since he graduated summa cum laude in 1988 from Ohio State with a double major in biochemistry and mathematics and a minor in Modern Greek.  

He currently teaches math part time at Columbus State, Ohio Dominican University, Franklin University and Capital University. He also does on-air work at CD101, teaches improvisational comedy classes, manages his own improv troupe, and teaches corporate seminars with his company called The Group Mind--he even taught a workshop for Columbus State employees on behalf of SEM in February.  

How on earth did a math major end up on the Midwest Comedy Tool & Die Improv Troupe in college, scheduling gigs around his graduate classes and teaching assignments?

"I was a wannabe rock star in the '80s," explains Caleodis. "I had the hair; I had the clothes. I played keyboards with a really great band called Voices of Winter." Reality set in when the band incorporated, and he had to make a decision between finishing college and signing a recording contract and going on tour.

Caleodis chose to finish his degree, and happened upon a job providing musical accompaniment to a local improv group at Ruby Tuesdays on campus. There, he discovered that "live comedy is the most powerful narcotic in the world." A few times in front of the audience getting laughs was all it took.

He also discovered that improvisational comedy involved a lot more than "standing around telling jokes to drunks in bars," laughed Caleodis. "I became involved in trying to learn the craft--to study acting." He began taking improv classes in Cleveland just about the time a Second City Troupe was forming in that city. Fortune and fame beckoned!

Caleodis left his full-time tenure track position in Columbus State's mathematics department for the bright lights of Cleveland and Second City in August 2001. After an exciting whirlwind of a year performing with the inaugural cast of Second City Cleveland, Caleodis was back in Columbus. The cast had been rotated, and he didn't get rehired.  

Not to be discouraged, Caleodis set about getting his math teaching jobs back, and soon the rear window of his car was plastered with parking stickers from local colleges and universities, including Columbus State. He was back on the air with CD101, and he was creative director for a local comedy troupe called Out of Our Heads, or OOH!    

He also realized that improvisation had some serious potential for educating the corporate world. "The very part of the organization that worked so well on the stage falls apart off stage," he explained. "In a business setting, people are not listening to each other, or reacting to what others say. There are motivations, agendas, and preconceived notions that affect teamwork. By using the principles of improvisation, team members can learn to acknowledge each other's contributions and really hear what they are saying," said Caleodis. He calls this his "Yes, and" theory. When people hear what others say, acknowledge what they've heard and react accordingly, "magic happens," he says. "That's improvisation, and maybe nine times out of ten it doesn't lead anywhere, but that tenth time it works."  

So how do these theories play out in Caleodis' math classrooms? If you imagine a raucous atmosphere of stand-up comedy routines, you're wrong, says Caleodis. "I'm not that funny in person," he insists. "But I use humor every day. Occasionally I get in a mood, but the humor is never about me. I use things I overhear from students in the hallways or before class. It gets them involved."

Caleodis says his students at Columbus State are "an industrious group." He likes their willingness to take responsibility for their education, do the homework, and study for their tests. He doesn't always find that at other colleges, he admits.  

He hopes to return to full-time teaching at Columbus State some day, when the timing is right. His rigorous adjunct schedule is tiring. He plays around with ideas for incorporating video clips into his classes--everyday math in everyday places, "like a math show," he says. Ever creative, Caleodis is even working on a DVD series of "Cliffs Notes" for math courses--"for those students who find God in the eighth week of the quarter," he jokes. He wistfully talks of "going out west" to the comedy Mecca of Los Angeles. Comedy is a tough gig in Columbus.

For now, Caleodis will continue his schizophrenic existence as a daytime math professor, nighttime comedian. Add a dash of music, a pinch of production, a cup of corporate seminar work, and a little Greek charm to the recipe, and the result is quite satisfying.

Instructional Technologies Institute to offer Blackboard user seminar Thursday

The Instructional Technologies Institute (ITI) will offer "Beyond Warehousing: Using Blackboard to Enhance Teaching and Learning in Traditional Classes," taught by Deborah Bertsch, Communication Skills instructor, April 21 and May 20.

Blackboard is a popular tool for warehousing course materials--or making handouts, supplemental information, notes, and other items easily accessible to students in traditional classes. But Blackboard offers much more for those students and their teachers. In this session, you'll learn how Blackboard can help establish a sense of community among class members, keep course materials fresh and timely, and make course management more efficient.

The course will be offered at the following dates and times:

Thursday, April 21, 2 p.m.
Davidson Hall 241
Instructor: Deborah Bertsch

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Friday, May 20, 1 p.m.
Davidson Hall 241
Instructor: Deborah Bertsch
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To view the entire Spring Quarter Schedule of ITI seminars, visit the ITI website.

NHRA Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher, Army of One team to visit campus

Coming off some big wins in the early top fuel drag racing season and standing first in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) rankings by 52 points, Tony "the Sarge" Schumacher and his Army of One race team will come to the Columbus State campus to give a talk and sign autographs May 17, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. On April 10 Schumacher captured his second win of the 2005 season in Baytown, Texas, with a record-setting 335.32 mph pass in the final.

The Columbus Recruiting Battalion of the U.S. Army, Schumacher's sponsor, also will bring their rock climbing wall for students to gauge their skills. The Army sponsorship is part of a five-year test with funding approved by Congress in 2000. The $5 million per year sponsorship includes education and outreach components such as the Columbus State event.

As part of the educational message of his tour, Schumacher will talk about teamwork, technical excellence, Army values and careers in motor sports. The event is coordinated by Andy Rezin, Ph.D., and the Columbus State Automotive Department.

TLRC wins Communicator Award of Distinction

The Teaching Learning Research Center (TLRC) won a Communicator Award of Distinction for a promotional video produced about the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) competition hosted by Columbus State last year.

The TLRC provided video support for Student Career Days. TLRC videographers Rich James and Shane Vermillion recorded the competitive events and career fair, conducting interviews with students and industry representatives. The following summer, James edited the footage into a video that will be used to recruit colleges as hosts and businesses as sponsors for future Student Career Days.

The Communicator Award is an industry-sponsored competition that gives winners and their clients the recognition that the work they are producing is highly regarded by their peers. The Award of Distinction is presented for projects that exceed industry standards in quality and excellence.

This is the second Communicator Award given to the TLRC for a video produced by James. He also won the award for his promotional video for the Construction Sciences Department.

Workshop to help you beat the odds

Friday, May 13, can be your lucky day.

Join the Mental Health/Chemical Dependency/Mental Retardation program for their 21st Annual Humor Workshop as you think, get out of and stay out of the box. Guaranteed to have you laughing, this seminar will teach you the secrets of a positive workplace and how emotions and attitudes affect morale, productivity and teamwork. Anyone interested in empowering people and solving problems will have a good time learning how to impact their own working environment, improve motivation, and build better teams.

This year's workshop features: Steve Wilson, "Cheerman of The Bored" and co-founder of The World Laughter Tour, Inc.; Stu Robertshaw, president and CEO of the National Association for the Humor Impaired; Rosemarie Rossetti, syndicated columnist, author, publisher, and founder of Fortuna Press; John Wagner, clinical counselor, humorist and recipient of the E. Larry Moles Humorist Award; Patrick Donadio, certified speaking professional and master certified coach; and Jon Petz, founder and creator of Magical Experience.

The workshop will be held Friday, May 13, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Midwest Hotel and Conference Center, 4900 Sinclair Road. Tickets, which include materials, breaks, lunch and CEUs, are $129 per person or $900 for a table of eight. Proceeds from the workshop benefit the Stephen H. Wilson Scholarship Fund for the Mental Health/Chemical Dependency/Mental Retardation Program. To make a reservation or to receive more information, call 287-2540.

Early retirement incentive forums scheduled

At its March meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the voluntary early retirement incentive program. Details and logistics of this program will be presented by the Human Resources Department at forums on the following dates:

Monday, April 18 , 11 a.m. - noon in NH Seminar Room D
Thursday, April 21 , 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. in NH Seminar Room C

In addition to the above forum dates, representatives from both SERS and STRS will conduct breakout sessions on the early retirement incentive program during In-Service Day, May 6.