Written by Karen Shuey/ReadingEagle
Muhlenberg Township, PA — Muhlenberg High School Principal Michael Mish has experienced some uncomfortable silences.
Those silences usually come when it has been painfully clear that the parents staring at him have no clue what he has been attempting to tell them. He offers a smile and then they wait. They wait for someone who can help them move past the barricade that separates those who only speak English from those who only speak Spanish.
"We know how important it is for parents to be engaged in the education of their children, so when you can't communicate with them about that it creates barriers," he said. "Those uncomfortable silences can be embarrassing because you know they want to be there to help, but you have nothing you can say to them."
And with Latinos now making up more than half of the Muhlenberg School District student population, those silences have become much more frequent over the last several years.
So when Mish heard the district was partnering with Reading Area Community College to offer a Spanish program this summer to school administrators and their support staff he said he embraced the opportunity.
"I may never become fluent in Spanish but understanding more about the language and the culture will help make those interactions more comfortable for me and for the parents," he said. "It's a lot easier to communicate with someone when you have an appreciation for where they come from."
Mish was not alone in his enthusiasm for learning.
He was one of about 30 faculty members across the district who took the course. They spent the last several weeks learning and speaking basic words and phrases, researching Spanish-speaking countries, tasting the local cuisine from those countries and listening to the experiences of those who lived in those countries.
Lori Morris, an assistant high school principal, said she's hoping those bilingual skills and cultural experiences will come in handy when it comes to building relationships with those students and parents who can sometimes feel isolated because of the language barrier.
"We have to walk the walk and talk the talk," she said. "Our students and parents are going to appreciate the fact that we are making an effort. I think the effort to better understand them is what really matters to them."
Reading, PA – Reading Area Community College was recently recognized as one of only 16 colleges, out of 1,200 community college
Reading, PA – Reading Area Community College was recently recognized as one of only 16 colleges, out of 1,200 community colleges nationwide, to be published in the 2019 edition of Civic Scholar. The Civic Scholar is the Phi Theta Kappa Journal of Undergraduate Research, and the nation’s only journal recognizing and celebrating the undergraduate research and community engagement of community college students.
“This publication helps us demonstrate to others what we have always known-that an investment in community colleges is s a wise one. It celebrates students who are digging the deepest into their community college experience by engaging more deeply with students, instructors, and the institution in meaningful ways,” says Phi Theta Kappa President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner.
The overarching objective of RACC’s submission, “The Powers of Connection: Creating a College Website to Promote Inclusivity” was to evaluate the effectiveness of the connections formed through various types of communication, with the intention of improving communication within the RACC campus.
"Overall the impact of our project is significant in that it has initiated a dialogue among faculty, staff, students and community members. I am very proud of the thorough academic research and writing that the students completed. In their journal submission, the chapter members skillfully connected their research findings to the major actions of their project, "says RACC PTK advisor and faculty member Dr. Danelle Bower.
The Civic Scholar serves as a national platform to celebrate the hard work and talent of the PTK students.
For more information about Phi Theta Kappa at Reading Area Community College, please call 610.372.4721.
Reading, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller visited Reading Area Community College (RACC) on July
Reading, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller visited Reading Area Community College (RACC) on July 12 to highlight the department’s Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) program. KEYS assists students who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits pursue certificates, degrees, or credentials at Pennsylvania’s community colleges. The visit was the first stop on a statewide tour of KEYS programs at each of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges.
“The KEYS program is doing incredibly important work around the commonwealth to help Pennsylvanians in low-income situations access post-secondary education and training in a way that addresses and helps overcome the unique challenges and barriers students face,” said Secretary Miller. “This collaborative effort has a transformative impact on a person’s personal and economic trajectory, helping them truly achieve a better life.”
KEYS is a collaboration between DHS and Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges. First established in 2005, KEYS has helped more than 15,300 people access post-secondary education and training.
"The fantastic work our staff is doing through KEYS and various training programs at RACC is very important to students who are becoming emotionally and intellectually independent," says KEYS Program Coordinator and Student Facilitator Mary Turner. “The students at RACC show what individuals can do when they are given the tools to succeed."
KEYS programs provide supportive services to students like assistance with school supplies, transportation, and child care. Students are also connected with mentoring and peer support relationships critical to helping them ease the transition back into school and overcome barriers to success in education. The KEYS program has an 82 percent retention rate and 78 percent of KEYS participants are in good academic standing.
“Too many single-parent families in Pennsylvania and around the country feel limited by their economic situation. We are committed to giving them the tools and supports necessary to help them change their family’s path and, most importantly, to help them realize that they are not alone in this journey,” said Secretary Miller. “Each of us can play a role in supporting parents and families seeking better lives, and KEYS and the Parent Pathways initiative will give us a vehicle to make this work possible in more communities.”
For more information, please contact the RACC KEYS Program at 610-372-4721.
Reading, PA - The Reading Area Community College (RACC) Adult Basic Education (ABE) program honored 88 student
Reading, PA - The Reading Area Community College (RACC) Adult Basic Education (ABE) program honored 88 students who have obtained their GED in a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 22nd in the Miller Center for the Arts on the RACC campus.
Students walking the stage have spent hundreds of hours working on GED preparation in one of RACC’s classes. The GED examination is equivalent to a high school diploma and certifies a student as having high school graduate-level skills.
"Adult education is a vital program in our community, and we at RACC are proud to offer this option for students looking to improve their marketability in the workforce, or continue their education at the next level,” says Dr. Susan D. Looney, RACC president.
Many students graduating have also completed English as a Second Language courses and now plan to further their education-including enrolling at RACC to earn a degree.
For more information about RACC’s GED and ABE programs, call 610.372.4721, ex. 5322.
Written by Reading Eagle
Reading, PA — Reading Area Community College celebrated its 47th commencement Friday afternoon with a record high of 540 students earning degrees, certificates and diplomas from the community college.
“It is a privilege and a joy to see so many graduates take this step toward great success in the years ahead,” Dr. Susan D. Looney, college president, said during a ceremony in Santander Arena. “Our students and graduates continue to inspire me every day, and they will continue to make the RACC family of faculty, staff, students and alumni very proud.”
Looney, during her first graduation ceremony as RACC president, presented the President's Award to Dr. Thomas F. Flynn, president of Alvernia. Flynn started in his post in 2005 and is retiring in June.
During his tenure, Flynn has overseen the development of new strategic and campus master plans that culminated when Alvernia achieved university status in 2008.
April Conrad, who received a degree in health science, delivered the student speech. Conrad plans to work as a pediatric cardiovascular sonographer.
During her two years at RACC, Conrad showcased leadership skills as a college ambassador and peer mentor. Conrad's poetry has been published in RACC's literary magazine, Legacy.