Archived Story

RCC promoting cooperation with area schools

Published 3:23pm Saturday, December 21, 2013

By Dr. Adenuga Atewologun

Riverland Community College is already wrapping up fall semester and preparing for a new semester to start Jan. 13 in the new year.

Our communities may be aware of the programs and courses we offer on our campuses or online, but I have been extremely impressed with some of the partnership opportunities that leverage the talents of our colleagues in the area’s K-12 systems. Below are a few examples of how Riverland recently worked with the schools in our region to promote the importance of postsecondary education for their students.

Austin Public Schools (APS), Riverland Community College, and Winona State University (WSU) are working together to offer college students the opportunity to earn an Associate in Arts degree through Riverland and a Bachelor of Science degree to teach Elementary Education through WSU, all without leaving the Austin community. Sumner Elementary School, the program site, is a culturally diverse school on a year-round calendar. In their work at Sumner, students will have the opportunity to interact with general and special education teachers, teachers for English Learners, a gifted and talented specialist, reading and math intervention teachers, a cultural liaison, and an instructional coach, all located in one setting. Students will arrange clinical experience during their first two years at Riverland and receive progressively more challenging placements during the second two years through WSU.

Albert Lea High School (ALHS) has always been one of Riverland’s leading partners through concurrent enrollment, a program that allows their students to gain college credits in their high school classrooms. However, ALHS collaborates with us in many other ways. Most recently, they were the host site for the Vex Robotics competition that featured teams competing with and against other schools in a series of back-to-back robot challenges. Approximately 100 middle and high school students and their mentors competed for the championship title by strategically executing the game Toss Up, driving robots they designed, built and programmed from the ground up using the VEX Robotics Design System. This activity introduces students to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in a fun and interesting way.

In October, Riverland faculty and staff participated in Owatonna High School’s (OHS) first College Fair. More than 700 juniors and seniors attended the event. Riverland Counselors Stephanie Shea and Jeanne Poppe presented four sessions on college admissions/college readiness to more than 400 OHS students. Riverland Enrollment Advisor Patty Hemann presented four sessions on financial aid to approximately 300 students. In addition to the formal presentations, several faculty from Riverland career and technical education were available at tables to offer information about careers in programs like Construction trades, manufacturing, allied health, law enforcement, and transportation.

These are just a few of the many examples illustrating how Riverland works with the area school systems through distance learning. We have many examples of concurrent programming with the other communities in our region that allows students to take advantage of Riverland programming and get an associate degree or training in one of the most affordable ways possible.

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