GCC to train 10,000 older workers for new jobs

Baby boomers to earn certificates or degrees in health care, education or social service occupations

GREENFIELD, Mass. – Greenfield Community College (GCC) was recently chosen to join the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, a national effort to train 10,000 baby boomers for new jobs in health care, education and social services. The program is sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

The college will assist adults age 50 and over in completing degrees or certificates in high-demand occupations that give back to the community. With many adults age 50 and over out of work or seeking to transition to a new career, the program offers skill updates and career makeovers for baby boomers. GCC is collaborating with Franklin County Home Care Corporation, the local Area Agency on Agency, and with the Franklin/Hampshire Regional Employment Board and Career Center to refer Plus 50 candidates to GCC’s training programs and work with program completers to place them into new job opportunities.

Greenfield Community College will  enhance and update  its existing personal care assistant and home health care aide  training programs to address new standards so more students can receive state certifications.  GCC currently offers a wide array of training and career pathways in the health occupations, including credit-bearing Associate Degree Nursing Program and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Certificate, as well as credit-free workforce healthcare paraprofessional training: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Personal Care Assistant (PCA), Nursing Assistant (NA) & Home Health Aide (HHA), and CNA to HHA Supplemental Training.

“We appreciate and are pleased to receive funding from the American Association of Community Colleges in support of this program and its workforce training goals,” said Robert L. Pura, GCC President. “We convened a consortium of Franklin and Hampshire County providers from throughout the long-term continuum and together established shared core competencies (using nationally recognized evidenced-based best practice tools and resources) and performed a comprehensive assessment in order to identify skills, knowledge gaps and employee training needs.  Adults over 50 are a growing population in our region and aligning their employment training opportunities with area employer workforce gaps aligns with our college mission to serve the diverse educational needs of this community.”

The 38 colleges join 62 colleges previously selected. The additional newly-selected colleges are: Albany Technical College (Albany, Ga.), Brookdale Community College (Lincroft, N.J.), Brunswick Community College (Supply, N.C.), Cape Fear Community College (Wilmington, N.C.), Capital Community College (Hartford, Conn.), Central Arizona College (Coolidge, Ariz.), Clark State Community College (Springfield, Ohio), Community College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn, Ill.), Davidson County Community College (Lexington, N.C.), Delta College (University Center, Mich.), Delaware Technical Community College (Georgetown, Del.), Eastern Iowa Community College District (Davenport, Iowa), Edgecombe Community College (Tarboro, N.C.), El Camino Community College District (Torrance, Calif.), Gateway Community and Technical College (Edgewood, Ky.), Grays Harbor College (Aberdeen, Wash.), Green River Community College (Auburn, Wash.), Henderson Community College (Henderson, Ky.), Highland Community College (Highland, Kan.),  J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College (Huntsville, Ala.), Jackson State Community College (Jackson, Tenn.), Jefferson Community and Technical College (Louisville, Ky.), Kingsborough Community College (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Madisonville Community College (Madisonville, Ky.), Milwaukee Area Technical College (Milwaukee, Wis.), Montcalm Community College (Sidney, Mich.), North Central Michigan College (Petoskey, Mich.),  Oakton Community College (Des Plaines, Ill.), Panola College (Carthage, Texas), Piedmont Community College (Roxboro, N.C.), Piedmont Technical College (Greenwood, S.C.), Phoenix College (Phoenix, Ariz.), Roanoke-Chowan Community College (Ahoskie, N.C.), South Arkansas Community College (El Dorado, Ark.), South Texas College (McAllen, Texas), Tallahassee Community College (Tallahassee, Fla.), and Tulsa Community College (Tulsa, Okla.)

Since 2008, AACC and its network of Plus 50 Initiative colleges have supported baby boomers coming to college and helped them prepare for new careers. It’s a program that works. Eighty-nine percent of students participating in AACC’s Plus 50 Initiative told an independent evaluator that college workforce training helped them acquire new job skills, and 72 percent attributed landing a job to such training.

“Baby boomers who are out of work or want to transition into new career fields need to update their skills. Community colleges are affordable and working to help baby boomers, even if they’ve never stepped on a college campus before,” said Mary Sue Vickers, director for the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC.

Vickers added that many of the plus 50 adults who participate in the program also find great meaning and purpose in their work after they get hired. “Jobs in health care, education and social services give baby boomers a way to give back to society, so plus 50 adults find these careers to be particularly rewarding,” said Vickers.

In addition to providing grant funds that augment college workforce training programs, participating colleges gain access to toolkits and extensive marketing resources tailored to reach baby boomers. They also benefit from the advice and support of staff at other community colleges that have successfully implemented programs for older learners and understand the unique needs of the plus 50 student population.

The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is funded with a $3.2-million grant to AACC provided by Deerbrook Charitable Trust. The Plus 50 Encore Completion program supports AACC’s work to increase the number of students who finish degrees, certificates, and other credentials.  In April 2010, AACC committed alongside other higher education organizations to promote the development and implementation of policies, practices and institutional cultures that will produce 50 percent more students with high quality degrees and certificates by 2020.

For more information about the Plus 50 Initiative at AACC, see http://plus50.aacc.nche.edu

For more information about GCC’s Plus 50 Initiative, contact Bob Barba, Dean for Community Education, at 413-775-1606.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is the leading advocacy organization representing more than to 1,100 community, junior and technical colleges nationwide. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, enrolling 13.4 million credit and non-credit students each year. Learn more at www.aacc.nche.edu.

Plum: GCC’s Tasty Treat for the Whole Community

In an area known for many talented writers, there is a new venue for local writers to be published and for everyone to read their work. Plum, GCC’s online literary journal, launched last spring and will publish its second issue in December. In keeping with GCC’s mission of serving the community, Plum publishes writing by GCC student writers alongside new, emerging, and established writers from western Massachusetts and southern Vermont. The inaugural issue of Plum included poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and reviews by GCC students, faculty, and area writers, as well as an interview with Northampton’s Forbes Library Writer in Residence Susan Stinson. December’s issue will feature an interview with local novelist Jedediah Berry.

Susan Stinson applauds Plum, saying “Being interviewed by Erik Risinger was such a great experience in reflection, interaction, and presence. He reminded me why what I do matters. It’s a huge gift to local writers and readers to have a new literary magazine with such a lovely, open, adventurous spirit welcoming us.”

Plum does more than publish great local writing, it also provides real-life lessons in journal editing and publishing for the students on the journal’s editorial board. Student editors study with faculty advisor Maria Williams-Russell and earn credit for their Plum work. Senior Editor Abby Connolly, in her second semester working on Plum, is joined by April Albrecht, Daniel Desrochers, and Star Felshman on the board. The student editors evaluate all submissions based on three criteria: clear voice, fearless honesty, and unique perspective.

Senior Editor Abby, 32, an English major who lives in Amherst, said, “Being in the Editor role has changed my writing and brought into focus what works and what doesn’t work in a piece of writing. There was an art gallery at GCC, but no place to display the writing that students create. My message to writers in our area: Submit to Plum! It is the only literary journal that focuses on writers, new and established, solely from this area. Plum showcases local talent and brings like-minded people together to support and inspire one another. Publish locally!”

Maria Williams-Russell teaches writing and literature at GCC and is the founding editor of Shape&Nature Press. Commenting on Plum, Maria said, “The student board members are very critical readers, with high standards for what we publish. I hope members of our community see Plum as a quality literary journal where they can exchange stories, perspectives, and experiences.”

Recognizing the value of Plum, GCC Dean of Humanities Leo Hwang said “Plum is a fantastic opportunity for the GCC community to create something that engages a readership beyond the classroom or a specific peer group. This is about civic engagement, learning real world editing and critical reading skills, and giving writers access to a venue to share their work with the world. Plum helps writers’ voices be heard in our community and beyond.”

Plum is online at http://www.gcc.mass.edu/plum/. Plum editors’ Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/gccplum.

By Mary McClintock ’82

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GCC recognized by state for its energy leadership

The Recorder
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Greenfield Community College was among 10 recipients of a “Leading by Example” award presented by the state Monday recognizing efforts to significantly reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, increased recycling, the use of renewable energy and other clean energy and environmental quality initiatives.

The awards, presented by state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, honored state agencies, municipalities, public colleges and universities and two individuals for efforts that aim to achieve ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy targets.

“We’re pleased and honored that this award recognizes the really good work of many people on the campus,” said GCC President Robert Pura, citing faculty, facility managers and program leaders who have been involved in the schoolwide effort.

The college earned its award for showcasing a comprehensive approach to reducing environmental impacts — including a recycling and composting program, a green campus committee, a geothermal system, three solar installations, a net zero energy greenhouse and a lighting retrofit.

GCC has also committed to training the next generation through four academic programs: renewable energy/energy efficiency; peace, justice and environmental studies; environmental science/natural resources; and farm and food systems.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has named Massachusetts number one in its annual state-by-state energy efficiency scorecard for two years running.

An electric car charges at one of GCC’s electric car charging stations

GCC’s zero-net energy greenhouse provides teaching and learning space for courses in the college’s renewable energy/energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture and science programs.


GCC honors 160 GED graduates

GREENFIELD — For some, the path to a high school diploma is straight and simple, but for others, life gets in the way.

Some, eager to get into the “real world,” start GED programs as soon as they leave high school, while others go back to finish school much later in life.

Thursday’s GED graduation ceremony at Greenfield Community College honored the 160 teens, men and women who have passed GED testing at GCC this year. Their ages ranged from 16 to 68, though most fell somewhere in between.

Though most of the graduates couldn’t make it Thursday, the school’s dining commons were packed full with the friends and family of 30 graduates. Each one of them had a unique story to tell.

“I left Athol High School as a sophomore to pursue a relationship that turned out to be no good,” said Larysa Clarkson, of Orange.

Now 24, Clarkson has two young sons, and, as of Thursday, her GED. She’s done putting her life on hold.

“I didn’t think it would take this long to get my GED,” she said.

It was a long, hard road, she said. Through her studies, Clarkson cared for her 2-year-old son, Collin, went through a divorce, and gave birth to little Alexander.

Now, she’s got a plan, and a foundation to build her future on.

“I want to go to college next to earn my associate’s degree,” she said. “I wanted to start sooner, but I had to wait for Alexander to be born.”

Without her diploma, the single mother has had to rely on public assistance just to get by. She looks forward to the day that she can get a good job and make her own way in the world.

Now that she’s helped herself by getting her GED, she wants to help others.

“I’m thinking of becoming a paramedic,” she said. If you would like to enroll in a GED program, you can contact The Literacy Project, at 413-774-3934. The Literacy Project has GED centers in Greenfield, Orange, Ware, Northampton and Amherst. Courses are also available at through The Family Learning Center, 413-475-1549, and the Franklin/Hampshire Career Center, at 413-774-3182.

Though GED testing is conducted at GCC, GED courses are not currently available at the college. To schedule a GED test, call the GCC GED testing office, at 413-775-1147. Testing is available to Massachusetts residents 16 and older, who are not enrolled in high school and have not graduated.

RECORDER, David Rainville can be reached at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279.

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GCC Helps Design Successful Careers

While Caroline Collins, Megan Green, and Lynn Stowe Tomb don’t know each other, they have something in common. Each turned to GCC to further her career in graphic design.

Caroline, 38, received an Associate of Science degree with honors from GCC in 2008. In the metro DC area, she works as an Interaction Designer for Capital One Finance. Megan, 42, lives in Greenfield, studied Visual Arts at GCC from 1989-91 and received a Bachelors degree in Graphic Design from Pratt Institute. Following work as a graphic designer, Megan returned to GCC for a Web Design and Development Certificate in 2010-11. Megan now is a graphic designer with a GCC alum-owned marketing firm in Westfield. Lynn Stowe Tomb, 66, lives in Gill. After receiving a Bachelors degree from UMASS in 1969, Lynn was a writer and editor before studying at GCC in the mid-1980s. Lynn worked as head of graphic design for Victorian Homes magazine and then as art director at Merriam-Webster in Springfield from 1994 to 2012.

Caroline received a Bachelor of Arts degree from UMASS in Music Education, a field she chose at 18 when unsure about careers. Later, GCC helped Caroline find a career she loves. She interned at Gravity Switch in Northampton and worked as a webmaster for WFCR/New England Public Radio and at a marketing firm.

Caroline said, “I went to GCC to learn Photoshop and walked away as a working graphic designer and exhibiting photographer. GCC provided a standard of excellence and professionalism and a mentor. I work with designers who studied at big-name design schools. While I have an Associate degree from GCC, most of my coworkers have Master of Fine Arts degrees.”

Megan attended GCC after high school and later to enhance her professional portfolio. She grew up in Provincetown and GCC was highly recommended by graphic designers her parents knew in Boston. After Pratt, Megan’s design career led to a job at The Republican’s marketing department. When that department closed, Megan returned to GCC to study Web Development and Design. She joined the Alumni Association, and, through GCC connections, met GCC alumna Tina Stevens. Tina hired Megan for freelance work for her marketing firm, and, later, a full-time job.

Megan said, “GCC helped me learn both skills for my career and the power of networking. GCC was a valuable tool for me at very different stages of my life. I am so grateful that it was there and affordable. Having the common thread of going to GCC is still extremely strong after many years.”

Lynn had worked part-time for years and knew what she wanted to learn, but wasn’t sure she could turn it into a full-time career. At GCC in her early 40s, Lynn fell in love with photography and thrived in GCC’s supportive environment. GCC professors gave her confidence that she could change and learn something new.

Lynn said, “The field of graphic design was undergoing huge changes. I learned about computers a little before everyone else. Merriam-Webster didn’t have a design department, they outsourced their design work. I was the first in-house graphic designer at Merriam-Webster and set up a computerized design department.”

Now, as a freelancer, Lynn designs books and book covers, creates wedding materials, and restores vintage photos. She works with local authors, including helping the late Tom Merrigan with his memoir.

Commenting on the success of these three GCC alumni, Paul Lindale, Chair of GCC’s Art Department said, “The Visual Arts degree at GCC provides concentrations of study in Photography, Video, Computer Arts, and Painting & Drawing which enable students to transfer into the strongest BFA programs across the country and go on to become innovators in their field. These alumni provide three critical examples among many.”

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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