August 4, 2008

Who’s Who in NEPA: Luzerne County Community College

By Anonymous

In keeping with our mission or making education available and accessible to all members of our community, Luzerne County Community College works constantly to ensure that we offer the programs and services necessary to meet the varied learning and support needs of our region's population; needs that are constantly changing due to demographics, technology, and other factors.

For example, as our region's English as a Second Language (ESL) population continues to increase, especially those of Hispanic/ Latino descent, Luzerne County Community College has made it a priority to implement new programming and enhance existing services to serve this growing segment of northeastern Pennsylvania. Serving our Hispanic/Latino and other ESL population enables Luzerne County Community College not only to ensure that education is available and accessible to all; it also enhances our efforts to support economic and community development for northeastern Pennsylvania.

In order to attract new business and industry, our region must ensure that we have a skilled workforce available. Today, a quality workforce is a diverse one in which the unique contributions and strengths of its members support the organization's success in meeting its mission and goals. Therefore, if we are to attract new and retain existing business and industry, we must develop all members of our community so they can contribute to our region's future economy.

Our Hispanic/Latino and other ESL neighbors comprise a significant part of our community. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Luzerne County has the fourth fastest growing Latino population in the country. LCCC's Hazleton Center has experienced a 15% increase in Latino students since the Fall 2007 semester. Also, there has been a 252% increase in non-English speaking students in the Hazleton Area School District from March 2003 to March 2007.

In response to this growing population, Luzerne County Community College has offered the following programs:

English as a Second Language (ESL) through which adults who are looking to increase fluency in the English language receive free instruction to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills and study for United States citizenship. To date, the program has provided services to more than 900 learners, and over 60% of our adult learners have obtained or retained full or part time employment. ESL and Developmental ESL also are offered at LCCC's Hazleton Center and Wilkes-Barre Corporate Learning Center.

The Bridge Program, an after school program for sophomores and juniors, focuses on reading, writing and math in preparation for the annual Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), a standards based criterion-referenced assessment used to measure a student's attainment of the academic standards. The students are transported to LCCC's Hazleton Center for two hours twice a week. The Bridge Program also prepares students for job readiness by working on interviewing skills and resume writing. This program has run several times over the past three years and is currently being funded under The College Board Greenhouse Grant. The College plans to develop a tutoring/mentoring program through which students who successfully complete this program mentor new students coming in.

LCCC provides literacy skills and information to Latino families on enrolling children in school (elementary/pre-school) and other related issues. The parents of young children are instructed on ESL and learn the basics of the American education system and Hazleton School District policies. They are encouraged to volunteer at the school district and join PTAs. The children are prepped on basic literacy skills and what to expect when they enter preschool and kindergarten. The College recently received a Dollar General Family Literacy grant for $19,500 that will cover this intergenerational ESL program for parents and their young children. The grant will also fund an additional ESL basic class and two additional sessions of a Spanish GED prep course.

In January 2008, LCCC started its first Spanish GED prep course and continues to offer courses throughout the year. LCCC is an official testing site for GED.

Through the Pennsylvania Workforce Improvement Network (PA WIN) Program, LCCC offers customized ESL programs to companies. The College has received several grants to support these pro-grams, which assist workers with learning basic English in order to function adequately in their jobs.

LCCC's Division of Workforce and Community Development offers the Command Spanish program, the country's leading provider of occupational Spanish language materials and workshops adapted specifically for various professions. The course is designed to help target basic Spanish terms and phrases needed for various businesses and industries such as: Emergency Spanish for Firefighters, Office Spanish for Secretaries and Receptionists, Survival Spanish for Paramedics and EMTs, and Spanish for other professionals such as Bank Tellers, Child Care Providers, Construction Site Employees, Hotel and Motel Staff, Survival Spanish for School Administrators, Teachers, and Support Staff, and many others.

LCCC is also looking into the creation of a bilingual library at the College's Hazleton Center.

Luzerne County Community College is striving to help meet the educational needs of this quickly growing demographic in northeastern Pennsylvania. The College's mission to provide excellence it education and create a learning environment that fosters value for lifelong learning, respect for diversity, and development of students as contributing members of society matches our commitment to all residents of our service area.

By better serving the ESL population of our region, we are better serving the economic and community development needs of business and industry, and ultimately better serving our communities throughout NEPA.

Copyright Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal Jul 2008

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