NICC Partnerships with High Schools Create Expanded Opportunities for Students and Local Communities
April 20, 2017
OELWEIN–At the Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) Board of Trustees meeting on April 18 at the new Regional Tech Complex in Oelwein, members heard a presentation on the successful partnerships between the College and high schools that are creating greater opportunities for students and local communities in northeast Iowa.
Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., NICC vice president of business and community solutions, and Kathleen Nacos-Burds, Ph.D., NICC vice president of learning and student success, highlighted the success of credit career pathways, tuition savings for high school students and their families through concurrent enrollment agreements and options that the new Regional Tech Complex (RTC) will create to meet the educational and training needs of students and industry.
“We know the Career and Technical Education (CTE) initiative in Iowa prepares community members for high-paying, in-demand occupations. CTE programs include competency-based, applied learning which contributes to an individual’s academic knowledge, higher-order reasoning and problem-solving skills, work attitudes, general employability skills and occupational-specific skills,” explained Nacos-Burds.
As an example for the trustees, Nacos-Burds outlined the healthcare career pathway for students. In this pathway, high school students complete a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) credential through NICC, many take concurrent enrollment coursework in nutrition, dosage calculations and medical terminology and then begin the Practical Nursing diploma program. After completing their requirements along the pathway, students may elect to earn an Associate Degree Nursing and become a registered nurse and, in the future, continue their learning at a four-year institution to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.
Concurrent enrollment options for high school students in the College’s district help to guide students’ future academic and career goals, Nacos-Burds reported, and the cost-effective agreements established between 25 district high schools and NICC are contributing to savings for families. From FY15-FY16, 2,965 high school students enrolled in college credit coursework and completed a total of 22,107.5 credits, saving their families an estimated $11.8 million in tuition.
“People sometimes underestimate how powerful the work we do with high schools really is,” added Mihm-Herold. “The Northeast Iowa Career Learning Link program through the College introduces high school juniors and seniors to potential career pathways through mentoring, business tours and job shadowing experiences. We are seeing such great success stories for high school students who participate in career pathways; they are our future.”
Two Oelwein students, Amy Roete and Allison Winters, gave a presentation to the trustees on their successful experiences in the Career Learning Link program. Roete, a 2015 Oelwein High School graduate, completed 46 NICC college credits through the Oelwein RAMS Center, including her Certified Nurse Aide credential in March 2015. Last December, she graduated from the College with a Practical Nursing degree. The healthcare career pathway opened her eyes to the variety of specialization in the nursing profession, Roete said. The student will complete an Associate Degree Nursing and registered nurse credential at NICC in December 2017 and plans to enroll at Upper Iowa University in 2018.
Winters is a senior at Oelwein High School. Participating in Career Learning Link job shadowing experiences introduced her to different occupations in healthcare before deciding to focus on a future nursing career. Winters completed many college transfer-level courses while in high school, including Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Public Speaking and Composition I and II. She plans to enroll in the Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing program at the University of Iowa in fall 2017.
The new RTC facility, located adjacent to the Regional Academy for Math and Science (RAMS) and Oelwein Center on 1400 Technology Drive, will continue to expand career pathway education and training for high school students, as well as local industry. The facility was developed in partnership between the College, Oelwein Community School District and the City of Oelwein in response to educational and local industry workforce needs. Programming at the RTC includes Project Lead the Way (PLTW) courses, computer numerical control (CNC), welding, engineering technology and industrial maintenance.
“NICC is leasing this amazing new facility from the Oelwein Community School District. By relocating Project Lead the Way classrooms and manufacturing lab areas to the RTC, we will have additional instructional space in their previous location at the Oelwein RAMS Center. The previous lab areas will house new health simulation labs for students’ healthcare career training,” Mihm-Herold said. “Moreover, East Penn Manufacturing will begin training their employees in the advanced manufacturing lab areas at the RTC next month.”
Industry and workforce needs identified by the College, informed through discussions with business and community sector board members, can lead to new programs and expanded offerings. At the meeting, the trustees approved an expansion of the Medical Assistant program for the Calmar campus to open in fall 2017. The program is currently offered at the Peosta campus and is successfully meeting healthcare workforce needs in the Dubuque area.
After discussion with healthcare providers and examining laborshed data, the College determined that the new program would address an area of job growth in the northern area of its district. According to EMSI, Inc., workforce statistics, the medical assisting profession in the greater Calmar area is projected to experience 10.43 percent job growth through 2025.
In other board action, the trustees set a date of May 15 at 3 p.m. at the Calmar campus administration building boardroom for a public hearing concerning the sale of an approximately 1.3-acre parcel of land on the College’s property. The parcel is adjacent to the community pool near the back entrance of the Calmar campus and would be developed for future use as a community fitness facility.
The board continued the annual review of its policies. The board policies encompass seven domains: Governance, Administration, Human Resources, Students, Instruction, Business and Operational Procedures, and Community. The Governance – Organization Chart, with discussion led by Liang Chee Wee, Ph.,D., NICC president, was approved by the board. The board subsequently approved a second reading of the Students policies led by Trustee Jim Anderson and the first reading of the Instruction policies, with discussion led by Board of Trustees President Ken Reimer, D.V.M., and Kathleen Nacos-Burds. Discussion of the 600 Series (Business and Operational Procedures) was led by Board of Trustees Vice President Jim Anderson, and Dave Dahms, vice president of finance and administration, and will continue at its May meeting for adoption on a first reading.
The College will hold two commencement ceremonies in May. At the Calmar campus, approximately 300 graduates will receive degrees, diplomas and certificates; commencement will be held on Thursday, May 11, at the Luther College Center for Faith and Life in Decorah. More than 440 Peosta campus graduates will also receive their credentials this spring; commencement will be held on Friday, May 12, at Five Flags Center in Dubuque. Both ceremonies begin at 7 p.m.
The trustees approved the appointment of Tracy Cigrand, Maintenance II employee for the Dubuque Center and Town Clock Business Center; Holly O’Brien, New Hampton success coach; and Julia Sollien, executive assistant to the president and transitioning to the board secretary role.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the board of trustees is at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 15, at the Calmar campus.