What does it mean to be a “life-long learner?” According to the dictionary, life-long learning is the provision or use of both formal and informal learning opportunities throughout people’s lives to foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for employment and personal fulfillment.
For me, life-long learning comes in all forms, from various delivery methods and for any age. There are no boundaries for learning. It can mean a child learning to tie their shoe. It can mean a college student learning an algebraic expression. It can mean an elderly person learning how to take a picture on a cell phone. We are never too smart and never too old to learn something new.
As the president of Hill College, my vision is to keep learning opportunities accessible and affordable for the community, as well as provide programs to our many stakeholders, students, ISDs, businesses and industries that allow for new learning to take place. My vision aligns very nicely with our mission to enhance the educational, cultural, and economic development of our service area and assist individuals and our community to prepare for a more productive life. So, how do we prepare our communities for a more productive life? By offering high skilled, high-tech, quality programs, training and skills in preparation for transfer to a university, preparation for the world of work and/or for personal enrichment while keeping learning at the forefront.
One of my greatest honors as a president of a community college is to be able to bring learning opportunities to our “community” in a variety of short courses, semester-long courses, credit courses and non-credit courses. Non-credit course offerings are short-term offerings that provide training opportunities to upgrade skills (Excel), learn a new trade (welding), and/or take courses for personal enrichment (painting).
In fact, recently, I have reorganized our Continuing Education (CE) Department to better serve the needs of our community. Because of the need for skilled workers in our district and the many business and industries looking to hire skilled employees, I have expanded course offerings to all of our campuses and centers to connect to economic development, while serving a variety of ages of students, including youth to short-term business and industrial employees.
In rebuilding and reorganizing departments, you have to put the right people in place, hire experienced and qualified staff that has experience in workforce education, and get out of their way. Bringing on a new dean of continuing education with 28 years of experience as an electrician and air conditioning contractor while also serving five years as an adjunct instructor, assisted by an experienced executive director has brought new ideas, new programs, and new energy to our Continuing Education Department.
Not only has Hill College’s Continuing Education Department expanded course offerings covering business, health careers, technical training and personal and professional enrichment, but also has brought back some old favorites such as “Kids Kollege,” which allows first through eighth graders the opportunity to experience a week of “college” each summer on our college campus.
Kids Kollege learning opportunities include class offerings such as Art for Little People, Baseball Basics, Basketball Bombers, Bead Bonanza, Career Paths, Etiquette 101, Kitchen Science, Learning History at the Museum, Math Blasts, Power it Up, Reading Enrichment, Rodeo Roundup, Snack Attack, Softball Superstars, Tennis and Writing with Creativity. Kids from all over our service area come together for a week of learning in a college setting. Learning for kids.
Through our Continuing Education Department, students wanting to begin a new career can take one or a series of courses such as nurse aide, pharmacy technician, phlebotomy, massage technician, workplace skills or medical assistant. Others, who want to enhance skills or enrich their lives, can take short courses in topics such as welding maintenance, Excel spreadsheets, Quick Books, fundamentals of riding (equine) and even exercise, entertainment, or coordination developing courses like ballroom/country dancing. Community members, who are not interested in enrolling in a continuing education course can still benefit from continuing education programs, such as massage therapy, by stopping in for a massage. Learning while relaxing.
“Businesses across the country have a great need for skilled technicians,” CE Dean Stephen Pape said, adding that, “Community colleges and technical schools must step up and meet this need by offering the coursework, training and skills development necessary for these new workers to keep Texas competitive in a global economy.”
Hill College can help meet this need with the wide range of programs and awards offered by the Continuing Education Department, as well as the traditional offerings.
Pape also states, “I am excited to be a part of Hill College working to help meet the education and skills development needs in the community. Working together with Executive Director Tammy Logan, our great team of current and future Continuing Education instructors, and Dr. Boehm’s vision and leadership, I think we can make a positive impact by increasing the skills of our workforce, enabling our existing businesses to be more competitive and helping bring more businesses to our multi-county service area. Hill College is a true partner in quality development because I feel there is no better tool for economic development than a region with a reliable and skilled workforce.”
Pape added, “In my short time with Hill College, I have found there are a lot of great companies in Johnson, Hill, Bosque, Hood and Somervell counties that are in need of skilled workers. I look forward to helping create these workers and matching them with these great businesses and industries.”
Lifelong learning … a piano class? An air conditioning class? How about bringing the kids for summer painting, basketball, or archery? Something for everyone.
Updated continuing education course offerings, times and locations as well as registration information can be found on the department’s website at www.hillcollege.edu/CE or for more information on all Hill College offerings, please visit www.hillcollege.edu and click any of the program links under the “Academics” tab.
I hope you will consider joining us for life-long learning opportunities at Hill College.
Dr. Pam Boehm is president of Hill College