At the heart of all schools, three separate groups are responsible for the success of the district: the students themselves, the faculty and staff who are responsible for the education and safety of the students, and the members of the legislature who appropriate educational funding.
Tuesday morning, representatives of all three entities attended a legislative breakfast hosted by State Fair Community College.
The event is a way for State Fair to say thank you to six members of the Missouri State House Representatives: Nathan Beard, Denny Hoskins, David Wood, Dave Munzel, Wanda Brown and Dean Dorhman, and Adam Timmerman, a representative of 4th District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, for their support of SFCC and education.
“We are so very appreciative of everyone who is here this morning,” Board of Trustees President Dr. Gary Noland said. “We know that those here are an integral part of what makes our college possible and the success that it is.”
To give the legislators the opportunity to hear about the success stories of SFCC, four students were asked to speak at the breakfast.
All are non-traditional students who spoke of specific ways the opportunity to receive an education later in life has helped them.
“It has been an incredible and rewarding journey to be here at SFCC,” Carrie Gleason said. “I had a successful career as a manager at Walmart for over 13 years and then I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“After my surgery and treatments I decided to try to further my career not only for myself but I needed to do this for my children,” Gleason added. “Because I was diagnosed with a 60 percent chance that I will not make it, I qualified for aid through Voc-Rehab and that is how I am here today.”
After the completion of her degree, Gleason said she plans to go into social work as a way to help others in the same manner the college has helped her.
“After hearing these students speak and after looking back on my education at State Fair I just want to say to all students, ‘Never close the door, never overlook an opportunity,’” Dorhman said. “Don’t ever be afraid to walk through the door.”
Those doors were a focus for the other presentations at the breakfast as the legislators learned how SFCC is utilizing some of its appropriated funds.
A program that has seen recent expansion is the college’s Learning Force.
“Missouri is the No. 1 state in new business creations,” Jessica Craig, director of the Learning Force, said. “Thanks to the actions of our board of trustees and workforce dollars from the state, we were approved in October as a New Business Development Center.
“This is a way to further support and help in creating and retaining jobs in the counties we serve as a college,” Craig added.
In SFCC’s 14-county region, the existing Missouri Works Training Program has created or retained 1,874 jobs in the past year.
The program has additionally seen a 70 percent increase in state funds secured.
“We know the value and benefits of a community college education to the success of the students but the community as a whole,” SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson said. “As we look to the future the college has established both a strategic plan and campus master plan.
“Our No. 1 priority for the future based on those plans is a new technology center because we know there are good jobs in this area for individuals trained in that field,” Anderson added.
Timmerman also touched on the importance of jobs in the community.
“Students need to know that you can come here and get the best education,” he said. “It’s been demonstrated here today that community colleges are a great value for education.
“There are great jobs right here in this community,” he added. “It is also good to see a community that is really behind their school because you don’t find that everywhere.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484