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 – On July 24, Drexel University President John Fry toured the Schmidt Training and Technology Cent
Reading, PA – On July 24, Drexel University President John Fry toured the Schmidt Training and Technology Center’s state-of-the-art STEM labs with Reading Area Community College President Dr. Susan Looney and RACC Board Chair, Guido Pichini. While touring the labs, Dr. Looney and Mr. Fry discussed expanding RACC’s academic partnership with Drexel, which is one of RACC’s top fifteen transfer schools.
RACC graduates can attend Drexel’s campus programs as well as complete their bachelor’s degrees through Drexel’s Online Professional Studies programs. Students considering where to continue their education after RACC may find the decision to be stressful — with so many details, deadlines, and decisions. To help them navigate the process, transfer specialists at RACC and Drexel work closely with students to guide them through the process.
“Transferring to a four-year college or university is a major goal of many RACC students. With RACC’s STEM transfer majors in Science, Engineering, and Health Sciences, students look to Drexel University for completing their bachelor’s degree. The most important advice for students wishing to transfer is to start planning early and to talk to their faculty advisors about their goals,” says Dr. Looney.
To learn more about RACC transfer services to top regional colleges visit racc.edu/services/transfer-services.
Reading, PA – Reading Area Community College (RACC) has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the American Associa
Reading, PA – Reading Area Community College (RACC) has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) MentorLinks: Advancing Technological Education project, which is supported by the National Science Foundation.
Through the MentorLinks program, RACC will apply the grant toward strengthening its popular Cyber Defense Certificate program. Funding will help connect faculty and administrative staff to institutions or organizations with strong cyber defense systems, allowing them to stay current with new technologies. Grant money will also be used toward developing internships and field experiences. This will provide opportunities for program graduates to earn industry standard credentials and hands-on practical experience.
By 2021, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions in the workforce. In response to the shortage, RACC introduced a Cyber Defense Certificate program in fall 2018.
“This accelerated program is ideal for professionals seeking to upskill, change careers, or for students wishing to enter the cybersecurity field,” says RACC President Dr. Susan Looney. “This grant will enable us to continue to strengthen and expand the program to meet the growing demands of the cybersecurity industry.”
The RACC Cyber Defense Certificate combines both networking and systems administration fundamentals, with a focus on defensive strategies to securing systems. This accelerated program can be completed in 15 months, and all courses may be taken online.
For more information about Cyber Defense training at RACC, visit racc.edu/cyberdefense.
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.