Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ohio University-Chillicothe serves the region through continuing education opportunities

The Emergency Response Training Center underscores OU-C's community commitment.

By student public relations writer Leah Sternberger

OU-C’s Office of Continuing Education adds value to the surrounding area through highly specialized and affordable courses.

From financial planning workshops to seminars on the latest developments in “sticky science,” OU-C’s continuing education course offerings are as diverse as the community they serve.

Identifying the needs of the surrounding region allows OU-C to offer the most relevant and desired programs.  “We survey those who come to classes and also do evaluations. We invite experts to visit with us, both OU-C faculty and community experts, to provide insight into the types of courses that we should offer,” said Associate Dean Brenda Phillips.

The Office of Continuing Education strives to address the needs of area employers to improve the skills of their employees while also addressing the needs of those in the community looking to add to their education to secure a brighter future for themselves and their families. Providing personal enrichment opportunities is another aspect.  These endeavors are important in connecting with the community and offering resources beyond the traditional classroom and lab setting.

In the past, monitoring the interests of the community has inspired a variety of course topics including financial planning, work-force training, personal business management, recycling and environmental conservation.

This year an ACT (American College Test) preparation workshop was one of the most popular. “We had double the number of participants sign up for an ACT preparation workshop than usual,” said Phillips. 

This endeavor is particularly meaningful because its focus of helping students succeed in college mirrors OU-C’s mission in many ways.

“Students came all day to work with an instructor and to become more prepared mentally and in terms of substance.  It was so popular that we are going to offer it twice next year, timed to be a few weeks before students take the ACT.”

Dates for the spring classes are March 12 and March 19.

Some course offerings are the result of partnerships between OU-C and local organizations. One such event was a recent partnership between The Ross County Safety Council and OU-C’s Emergency Response Training Center (ERTC).

The “Safety Day” event gave local businesses the opportunity to train their personnel on current safety standards and procedures.

“Members from more than 100 area businesses attended the event,” Phillips said.  “We had demonstrations from the Chillicothe Fire Department, Medflight, the Ross County Sheriff’s Department and the Chillicothe Police Department.”

The day long training event included demonstrations on life-saving skills such as vehicle extrication, fire extinguisher usage, active shooter and unarmed self-defense strategies.

Last summer, through a similar partnership with the National Park Service, OU-C offered a series of teacher workshops at Hopewell National Historical Park. 

“There was a good turnout and teachers were able to join an archaeological dig,” Phillips said.  “Hopewell Park is one of several extremely important Native American sites that are being considered for World Heritage status so we were excited to be part of this important attempt to document and preserve a potential world heritage site.”

The workshops at Hopewell Park are not the only teacher-focused continuing education programs available through OU-C.

“Teacher education workshops are quite popular as teachers want to continue to develop and expand their knowledge base,” said Phillips. “We have a good turnout every summer for the Advanced Placement workshops, where teachers learn how to offer Advanced Placement (AP) content in high schools so that students can secure college credit”

Jennifer Domo, an instructor who has taught in the OU-C Continuing Education Department for seven years, teaches several courses for educators at various levels.

“The basic concept of these classes is to provide educators with high-quality professional development that is job-embedded, practical, and meaningful to them. I always strive to achieve the most amount of professional growth in each participant based on their individual needs for their position,” Domo said.

“The community benefits from the Continuing Education program at OU-C because it gives area educators and educational leaders the chance to keep current with educational trends without leaving the area. They can also work together with other area educators to form collaborative action research projects and solve problems of the practice together.”

Domo also teaches a class for a popular OU-C continuing education program designed to provide local children with a challenging and engaging learning environment during summer vacation.  The program, Kids In College, seeks to provide participants with a deeper level of learning by exploring concepts that students are interested in pursuing outside of the regular school year. 

“My class is entitled Super Sticky Science,” Domo said. “This class emphasizes the difference between plant and animal cells. Participants create a non-linguistic representation of these cells using sugar cookies and different types of candies.”

The wide range of topics covered by these courses means there is an educational opportunity to fit all interests. Through meaningful curriculum and dedicated faculty and staff, the Office of Continuing Education strives to help local community members achieve both personal and career goals.

“I love my work at Ohio University,” Domo said. “We, as a community of Chillicothe, are so fortunate to have such a valuable resource of higher education in our community.  Without it, many local citizens would not have the opportunity to grow as the needs of our workforce changes to support 21st century career and readiness employment opportunities.”

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