ASHEBORO, N.C. — A community college may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of a small business. But, in a way, they are and they’re certainly on the front lines of making sure our small businesses have enough quality employees to hire.
“We accept students starting at 16 years of age and students as old as their 70s or 80s in our program,” says Jordan Williamson, who is the director of the Adult Basic Education and GED program at Randolph Community College.
So, when the state ordered schools to be closed, they were worried for their students – particularly those of whom they serve the lion’s share: the most vulnerable students who are working to finish their high school education and special needs people.
RCC decided to use a series of work packets that they gave to all students that allowed them to continue their work at home, with all the material they would get if they were still on campus.
“It includes reading, math, writing, social studies, science and some test preparation at the back for review,” says Williamson. “It’s not just a bunch of worksheets. There are resources that go along with it.”
They did this for all of their students, including the more than 100 who are special needs in their Adult Basic Lifeskills Education program (ABLE). Those students, in particular, had a tough time being forced off campus, since the physical contact their teachers provide is very valuable to their development.
“They don’t understand that they can’t come to school and they don’t understand that they have to stay six feet away from us,” says Tonya Monroe, who runs the ABLE program. “I ran into one of my students at the grocery store and she had to stay six feet away and that’s not her norm.”
Their work has gotten them notice at community colleges around the country. And they enjoy their role as “trailblazers,” but mostly are just happy their students are continuing to learn in a difficult circumstance.
“It’s critical for us, right now, to keep our students engaged, let them know that even through this crisis, your education has not stopped,” says Williamson.
See what RCC did, in this Small Business Spotlight.