GCC & Community Action Lead the Way in Early Care and Education

When Community Action’s staff couldn’t find enough college-level coursework in leadership to meet Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care requirements, Gwen Hawk knew who to call. Hawk, Education Manager for Community Action’s Parent Child Development Center (PCDC), phoned Kate Finnegan, Co-Chair of GCC’s Education Department, to talk about how to meet this workforce development need. That conversation led to Finnegan and Hawk creating and delivering EDU 244 “Leadership in Early Care and Education” in summer 2014 to 15 PCDC staff members from Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties.

Hawk said, “I turned to GCC for several reasons. GCC is a responsive community player uniquely invested in the development of the early care and education workforce. GCC’s Education Department was instrumental to my success within the field. I would not be the leader I am today without the leadership, mentoring, and wisdom of the Education Department leaders at GCC. And, I know where to go to make things happen because GCC moves mountains when it comes to meeting community needs!”

Hawk and Finnegan quickly realized they each brought invaluable perspective and knowledge to the project and needed to co-create a course. Finnegan brought a background in academic scholarship on leadership in education and a broad theoretical perspective. Hawk, who holds an Associate of Science from GCC, an Associate of Arts, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, brought the context of working her way up from being an early childhood teacher to her current position managing the PCDC/Head Start education department in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Vision Project provided support for the development and delivery of the course.

Massachusetts rates licensed child care centers using the MA Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). For a program to achieve QRIS Level 3, the program’s administrator must have nine credits of college courses in leadership and management. Across the state, program administrators are having a hard time finding such courses. Most of the students in EDU 244 were PCDC site program administrators seeking credits to benefit their centers and careers.

Topics covered by the seven-week course focused on building the students’ capability as supervisors and mentors. To serve students working in three counties, Finnegan and Hawk chose an online/hybrid course format with reading and writing assignments, online discussions, and three face-to-face sessions. The face-to-face sessions featured speakers addressing challenging real-life workplace situations and student presentations.

Reflecting on the course’s impact on PCDC staff, Hawk said, “Early care and education is evolving as a field from a babysitter mindset to an educational professional mindset. There’s nothing more important than the care provided to children and it takes a lot to run an effective program. We have a dedicated workforce, but they they need more tools to help them do the job. This course is one of the tools.”

Finnegan sees EDU 244 as a model for other courses. She said, “When considering workforce development, we must listen to the people in the workplace. I could have developed an academically rigorous course on my own, but developing and delivering this course with Gwen meant it was very specific to the workforce needs and grounded in the here and now. It was wonderful to share a rapid, thoughtful, creative course development process with Gwen. We can learn broad lessons from this collaboration about excellence in college courses for workforce development.”

For information about EDU 244 and other GCC Education Department courses, contact Kate Finnegan at finnegan@gcc.mass.edu or 413-775-1125.

By Mary McClintock, 82

GCC receives award for Excellence in Manufacturing Training

Tooling U-SME Recognizes Six Community and Technical Colleges with Platinum Education Center Award for Excellence in Manufacturing Training 

Coinciding with Manufacturing Day, October 1, 2014, Tooling U-SME, a leader in manufacturing training and development, today presented its Platinum Education Center designation to six community and technical colleges nationwide, including Greenfield Community College.

The Tooling U-SME Platinum Education Center (TUPEC) awards are presented to educational facilities that serve as models in the manufacturing industry when it comes to developing an outstanding learning culture. Schools are selected based on adoption of Tooling U-SME’s online training program and strong utilization rates of online training in a blended learning format. These six schools join 21 other past TUPEC awardees.

According to The Institute for Supply Management, the U.S. manufacturing industry is growing at its fastest pace within the past three years. However, according to The Boston Consulting Group, without aggressive action, the next decade is expected to bring a potential shortfall of 875,000 machinists, welders, industrial machinery mechanics and industrial engineers. As demand for skilled workers continues to increase, community colleges and technical schools are striving to provide training that meets the needs of manufacturers.

“The schools that we honor with the TUPEC designation demonstrate an exceptional commitment and dedication to preparing students for a successful career in the manufacturing industry,” said Toni Neary, education specialist for Tooling U-SME’s Government and Education Group. “Instructors at these schools are finding innovative ways to effectively use both online and hands-on training to help students develop critical skills and become strong candidates for employment at local manufacturing facilities.”

The schools that received the 2014 TUPEC designation include:

  • Atlantic Technical College, Coconut Creek, Florida, employs an effective approach to training that integrates academics and technical training with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The program enables students to obtain information and tools, while enabling instructors to provide hands-on support.
  • Fayetteville (North Carolina) Technical Community College is part of a consortium of statewide community colleges that aims to educate and train displaced and dislocated workers to fill the needs of local manufacturers. Using state-of-the-art equipment for hands-on training and a new approach to learning, students can earn certificates, degrees and diplomas, and ultimately, obtain full-time employment.
  • Greenfield (Massachusetts) Community College has partnered with Tooling U-SME for a new training program for entry-level CNC operators, targeting unemployed and underemployed workers. In addition, to meet the demand for skills workers in its community, Greenfield Community College has worked with area manufacturers to pilot classes for incumbent workers.
  • Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek, Michigan, has proven to be a pioneer in the way it structures its training, offering a dynamic open-entry/open-exit program that gives students flexibility in scheduling coursework and laboratory work.
  • Southern Oklahoma Technology Center, Ardmore, Oklahoma, uses Tooling U-SME online courses as a supplement to textbooks and other resources to provide a well-rounded and comprehensive educational experience.
  • The Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AZ-AMI) of Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona, has enhanced its current curriculum and laboratory equipment, and is blending innovation using technology such as Tooling U-SME online training. In addition to traditional students, the AZ-AMI strategy is to attract workers with existing skills and aptitude to help them develop new skills sought by local employers.

Since 2012, Tooling U-SME has been recognizing exceptional schools that are helping build a robust pipeline of skilled manufacturing workers in the U.S. with the TUPEC award.

For more information about Tooling U-SME, email info@toolingu.com or visit tooling.com.

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GCC Wins National Green Genome Award

Recognition for outstanding college sustainability and workforce efforts

 When community college leaders from across the United States look for an example of an innovative, effective, and sustainable college, they’ll look to Greenfield Community College. As part of an expanding national effort to support environmentally sustainable practices, programs, and job training at the nation’s almost 1,200 community colleges, Greenfield Community College is one of five exemplary community colleges to be presented with an American Association of Community College (AACC) Green Genome Award today.

The Green Genome Awards, created by AACC’s Sustainability Education and Economic Development Center (SEED), are evaluated in four key areas critical to holistic green college transformation: community engagement, governance, program design and delivery, and strategic partnerships. Greenfield Community College is recognized as the Overall winner, demonstrating excellence in all four key areas. That excellence can be seen in GCC’s academic programs in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency and Farm and Food Systems, on-campus photovoltaic solar panels and permaculture garden, campus-wide composting and recycling, collaborations with many community partners, and campus leadership that considers sustainability in its decision making. Greenfield Community College will be awarded $7,500 plus a set of state-of-the-art Bahco brand Snap-on tools and horticulture equipment. The awards are sponsored by Snap-on.

Greenfield Community College President Bob Pura said, ““As the primary organizing body of community colleges of the United States, AACC knows and understands community colleges across the country. We therefore are most honored and lifted by this recognition. I am so very proud of all of the people in the College and the Community who made it possible for AACC to recognize GCC with this award. It is great to get acknowledged for demonstrating best practices by an organization that is so well informed. What this award also does is encourage us to work harder and aspire to even higher standards.”

Other winners of this prestigious award include:

  • Gateway Technical College, Wisconsin (Strategic Partnerships)
  • Lane Community College, Oregon (Governance)
  • McHenry County College, Illinois (Community Engagement)
  • Moraine Valley Community College, Illinois (Program Design & Delivery)

“AACC is thrilled to recognize colleges like Greenfield Community College that have not only prepared a skilled workforce, but have also become change agents in regional efforts to develop a green and sustainable economy,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC President and CEO. “Through the SEED Center, AACC is providing community colleges an important roadmap to connect and integrate campus sustainability practices and clean economy-related education and workforce development.”

“This national award will not only equip GCC with state-of-the-art equipment but also with additional capital to boost their already successful program,” said U.S. Representative Jim McGovern. “This award is further proof that GCC is a national leader in the field of sustainable and renewable energy education and workforce development.”

GCC Faculty/Staff Respond to the Green Genome Award

Teresa Jones, Program Coordinator for GCC’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (RE/EE) Program

As a community college, GCC has been able to serve as facilitator to bring together the remarkable talent and passion from our region and grow sustainable practices from the ground up. Our programs and activities reflect hundreds of hands, minds and hearts. Our work brings together big-picture ideas and the literal nuts-and-bolts of building energy systems, planting food, working side-by-side with different people toward common goals. We know that it’s a perpetual work in progress and we thank our students, especially, for helping us to ‘walk the talk.’ I’m thrilled with this acknowledgement of our collective achievement.

Peter Rosnick, Adjunct Math Faculty and Director of SAGE – Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy Education Center

The SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy) Education Center at Greenfield Community College – “where science, workforce development, and civic responsibility meet” – bridges the work of the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency and Farm and Food Systems Programs along with related offerings of GCC’s Department of Workforce Development. Through the work of the SAGE Center, GCC is addressing three of the most compelling issues of our time – climate change, job security, and social justice. We are teaching students how to protect the environment and are helping them get good green jobs. In addition to honoring the work the college does in sustainability, The Green Genome Award very significantly and specifically honors the ninety community businesses and organizations with whom the RE/EE and FFS programs partner.  This award recognizes the entire community.

Montserrat Archbald, Green Campus Committee Chair

So much of the work we do on a daily basis is small and incremental—it’s great to be recognized as part of a much larger movement at GCC and colleges across the country.

Abrah Dresdale, Faculty/Coordinator of Farm and Food Systems program

I believe in working at a college that takes a whole systems approach to sustainability, where an institution chooses to leverage its position to demonstrate best practices. At GCC, we have a new bike share program, local food procurement for the dining commons, a green speaker series, and many other examples of sustainability permeating the campus. The Farm and Food Systems program is a liberal arts degree option focused on sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and building resilient regional food systems. We have worked with over 40 community partners, including the Franklin County Jail, where we offer an organic gardening class for incarcerated men; now there is a vegetable garden and fruit trees at the jail! Through a grant from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts we’re collaborating with grant partners NELCWIT, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, and Seeds of Solidarity to support women in transition to increase their food security and economic independence. The Farm and Food Systems program at GCC teaches about and engages with the interface of sustainability and social justice issues in our community and beyond.

Brian Adams, Professor of Environmental Science

Photovoltaics behind the East Building; a passive solar greenhouse; a permaculture garden; a LEED-certified building renovation; academic programs in Farm and Food Systems and Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency; active and committed faculty and staff. These are some of the reasons why GCC has received this prestigious sustainability award. We have accomplished so much and we have so much more to accomplish.

Christine Copeland, Internship Developer, DOL Transformations Grant and RE/EE Program Assistant

What greater testament is there to the value of our programs than the work of our graduates? They are installing energy systems, diagnosing houses for energy efficiency, creating community gardens – living with quiet passion and conviction as business owners, coop members, employees, interns, volunteers and good citizens. Our graduates express their appreciation for GCC by sitting on advisory boards and inviting students to intern with them. The work builds on itself. They are facing the pressing demands of our future.

About SEED

AACC’s Sustainability Education & Economic Development Initiative, SEED, advances sustainability and green workforce development practices at community colleges by sharing innovative models and free resources to increase the capacity of college leaders, faculty, and staff to build the green economy. The SEED Initiative was created in partnership with ecoAmerica and has received support from the Kresge, Flora Family, and Surdna Foundations and corporate partners Snap-on and Pearson Higher Education. www.theSEEDcenter.org

About the American Association of Community Colleges

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s more than 1,100 community, junior, and technical colleges and their more than 13 million students. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AACC has been in operation since 1920. For more information about AACC and community colleges see www.aacc.nche.edu

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GED / High School Equivalency Graduation to be held October 8

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, more than 30 GED (General Educational Development) and HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) graduates and their families will participate in a commencement ceremony at Greenfield Community College Main Campus from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Greenfield Community College has one of the highest High School Equivalency test passing rates of the twenty-five Testing Centers in the Commonwealth of  Massachusetts.   In 2013, 199 students earned their GED at GCC and in 2014, 48 students have earned their High School Equivalency Credential by taking the new HiSET test.  The HiSET test replaced the GED test for High School Equivalency Credentials in April 2014.  Graduates range in age from 16 – 70. On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, more than 30 GED (General Educational Development) and HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) graduates and their families will participate in a commencement ceremony at Greenfield Community College Main Campus from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The event is made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Literacy Project, the Franklin Hampshire Career Center, the Family Learning Center and GCC. Officials participating will be GCC President Robert L. Pura and State Chief GED / HSE Examiner, Tom Mechem. Speakers will include Donna DuSell, Youth Career Pathways Coordinator, Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board; Kari Lake, former GED and GCC graduate; Donna Tanner current GED graduate and Shoshone Sadoski current HiSET graduate.  There will also be presentations of the Tricia Donovan Memorial Scholarships. The event is made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Literacy Project, the Franklin Hampshire Career Center, the Family Learning Center and GCC. Please join us to hear and celebrate the amazing success stories. # # #

GCC’s Popular Senior Symposia Expands Locations and Program Format

Twelve years ago, former Greenfield Community College administrator Risky Case buttonholed GCC Dean for Community Education Bob Barba at a College event and said, “I’d like to talk with you about the College doing more for seniors.” Within a few weeks, Barba met with Case and about twenty-five others that Case helped bring together. That October 2002 meeting led to the then-named Senior Education and Enrichment Program at GCC, now called Senior Symposia, which opened with a slate of six titles in January 2003. A collaborative effort between Greenfield Community College’s Office of Community Education and area senior citizens, the Senior Symposia provide a way for area seniors to continue their education in a format that best suits their needs, interests, and resources. Clearly popular given a recent jump in attendance, the Senior Symposia present intellectually stimulating topics in single or multi-session formats, held during daytime hours in convenient, accessible locations. Since 2003, 7,606 seniors have attended 200 Symposia. Currently, about 400-500 people per semester attend Symposia on topics ranging from history and music to current events, travel, and art. Participants in this fall’s Symposia will learn about baseball, post-cold war nuclear risk, Chinese laborers in Berkshire County, Emily Dickinson, department stores, and more. Topics and presenters are chosen and developed by the Senior Symposia Planning Board and Risky Case still serves on that Board.

While most Symposia are held at GCC’s Downtown Campus on Main Street, some are held in alternative locations, including Stinchfield Lecture Hall and the Sloan Theater at GCC’s Main Campus and the Arts Block and The Pushkin in downtown Greenfield. The café-style seating of the Arts Block was the venue for last year’s jazz improvisation Symposium featuring pianist Jerry Noble and clarinetist Bob Sparkman. Noble, staff accompanist in the music department at Smith College and classical music writer for the Springfield Republican, and Sparkman play traditional jazz of the 1930s and 40s. For the Symposium, they mixed performance with conversation with the audience about how improvisation works.

Noble said, “The Symposium was a new format for us, an opportunity to give a peek into the process of what we do with improvisation. The back and forth of interaction with the Symposium participants was terrific. They were a super literate audience that brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the event. They brought up ideas we’d never considered, we were improvising with the audience. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve since presented a similar program to several music clubs.”

Barba said, “The Planning Board is committed to exploring new kinds of programming, a range of formats, and different venues to reach new audiences. The October 8 program on archguitar featuring Peter Blanchette will be a performance/conversation combination and the October 21 program includes a film created for the Emily Dickinson museum and presentations by the film’s scriptwriter and producers. The Arts Block is just one example of alternative venues the Senior Symposia program has used and is exploring. Although recent developments with that building make the location of the October 8 Peter Blanchette program uncertain at press time, the symposium will go forward either at the Arts Block or at the GCC Downtown Center.”

Risky Case continues to encourage the Planning Board to find programming that meets needs not yet being met. She said, “You never know what’s going to happen until you try. Since the beginning of the Symposia, we’ve made sure that the people who we’re trying to serve are involved in the decision making about the programs.”

John and Betts Bednarski of Greenfield are long-time Symposia participants who served on the Planning Board for a number of years. John said, “The Symposia are a tremendous opportunity for older people to extend their knowledge of interests they already have and to learn about new topics. Along with learning, Betts and I have developed very good friends among Symposia participants, including those who share our interests and some we would never have met otherwise. The Senior Symposia is a wonderful extension of GCC’s efforts in our community. They help everyone have a chance to keep on learning later in life.”

For information about this year’s Senior Symposia, visit http://www.gcc.mass.edu/creditfree/senior-symposia/ or call (413) 775-1605.

By Mary McClintock, ’82