Learning How To Teach Distance Learning

Northeast Mississippi Community College Distance Learning during COVID-19 pandemic

In the spring of 2020, Jeremiah Hartman joined thousands of educators around the world who had to quickly pivot to online learning at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.  Hartman is an instructor in the Adult Education Program at Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC). He says he and other instructors were preparing to return from Spring Break and begin a strong finish to the spring semester when he got the news about moving courses online to help slow the spread of the virus.

“Very quickly, we all realized that this would not be a typical spring,” Hartman remembers. “We figured out Google Classroom, Canvas, Zoom, Facebook Live, and a host of other distance learning delivery options.” Hartman had his colleagues also spent many hours preparing learning packets to distribute to students who, for various reasons, were unable to access the internet to continue their studies.

Hartman says his home became his classroom. “We transformed dining room tables and back bedrooms into classrooms and office space and managed to teach productive lessons and keep student contact despite our pets, children, and spouses also sharing the same spaces.” Although instructors at NEMCC thought the distance learning was only temporary, as the days and weeks continued, it became evident that he would not see the spring students in person that semester.

“During this crisis, educators have once again done what we always do. We have put the needs of our students and programs above the personal ambitions we may have,” Hartman says. And although the transition was difficult at first, he has found a rhythm and was even able to reach a new group of learners. “With distance learning, I have been able to help students who otherwise might not have been able to start or complete their education.”

Most of all, Hartman says the COVID-19 pandemic taught him how to be flexible and adaptable in the new virtual environment to meet the various needs of his students. However, one of the most important lessons he has learned is that educators have a responsibility to continue to learn and adapt to a digital learning environment. “At the end of the day, my COVID-19 success story doesn’t involve a student, but that is okay because it involves a whole profession of people who have worked hard and persevered to endure in the face of unforeseen challenges and unknown outcomes.

Quang Thai

Quang Thai headshot

Achieving Language, Career, and Educational Goals

Submitted by Jane Nguyen-Campo, ESL instructor, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
English as a Second Language (ESL) Adult Education at Mississippi Community College

Quang Thai began his ESL (English as a Second Language) classes in October of 2019, intending to master the English language. He achieved his goal through hard work and dedication. In a few short months, Quang reached an ESL level 6 and started on the road to furthering his education.

In the fall of 2020, he plans on studying electrical technology at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He has also enrolled in High School Equvialency (HSE) classes and is part of the MIBEST program for his training in electrical technology.

“Learning English is not easy,” Quang said while reflecting on his studies, “but it has helped me further my education, pursue my career, and prepare for the future.”

Qi “Ann” Zhang

Qi "Ann" Zhang standing in front of train

Learning English and Gaining Confidence

Submitted by Renata Gil, ESL instructor, Hinds Community College
English as a Second Language (ESL) Adult Education at Mississippi Community College

Qi “Ann” Zhang began her ESL education on January 27, 2020. She attended classes at Hinds Community College with her sights set on mastering the English language. She studied tirelessly and was an active participant in her class discussions.

In mid-March, her courses transitioned to online platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ann was not deterred from her goals. She continued to work diligently and spent six hours per week practicing and studying from mid-March to late June.

She was also an active member in her Civics English class, which combines language learning and lessons on American culture, and quickly began to see the rewards of her hard work.

“My English has improved greatly,” Ann explained, “And I obtained not only language learning skills, but also learned aspects of American culture. I am more confident because of it.”

Find Something New:
Tools to help you discover a new career

New tool advances online learning and career exploration

Trying to find a rewarding career is often a long and difficult process. Sometimes it takes several tries before we find the right job that pays enough money to take care of our families. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult, in many cases, to find work, the virus has also accelerated the development of online learning resources and platforms that can help people move into a family-sustaining and rewarding career at a faster pace.

One of these new resources is the Find Something New website by The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. The online tool is designed to help people all over the country discover a new, rewarding career. The site has information about online learning, certifications, apprenticeship, vocational-technical education programs, and higher education resources. You can also learn about rising career opportunities such as aerospace engineering and operations, broadcast and sound engineering, computer support specialists, contact tracers, website development, radiologic/MRI technicians, and other good-paying jobs.

On the site, you can read stories of real people who took an unconventional path to learn a new skill and whose lives were changed by finding a career that worked for them. You can join people across the country who are gaining new skills and securing life-changing careers. Start your path today by visiting the website.

You can also learn more about programs offered at each of Mississippi’s 15 community colleges by visiting our interactive map. We offer several career pathways and adult education programs that are helping people in our state succeed.

The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board is co-chaired by Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Find something new was created in conjunction with The Ad Council.

Get a Smart Start to Your Future

Author: Bronwyn Robertson
Program Specialist for Workforce & Employer Engagement
Mississippi Community College Board

The job market in the U.S. and Mississippi continues to evolve and become increasingly more competitive. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated local economies and left thousands of Mississippians without jobs. The current economic environment makes it even more critical for people to take steps to gain the skills and education to secure in-demand jobs in our state.

Mississippi continues to have a gap in people qualified for middle-skills jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree. Mississippi’s 15 community colleges have programs to help close this gap and get people into careers as electricians, dental hygienists, paralegals, health technicians, and many others.

In addition to gaining the skills needed to compete for these rewarding and family-sustaining careers, workers should also focus on ramping up their soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, conflict resolution, flexibility, and problem-solving.

The Smart Start program equips students with vital career readiness skills and industry-recognized credentials that increase employability.

Smart Start students participate in a 45-hour intensive course that teaches them how to apply their specialized skills beyond the classroom and gives them an opportunity to complete the National Career Readiness Credential (NCRC). The NCRC signals to employers that a person has the essential skills for workplace success no matter what career path they choose.

Smart Start and the NCRC are making a tremendous difference for Mississippi’s workforce. Since 2016 more than 6,200 Mississippians received Smart Start credentials and over 8,600 NCRC’s were issued. Students who enroll in Smart Start are also experiencing significant progress toward earning a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSE).

Smart Start students earn an HSE at triple the rate of students who do not enroll in the program.

You can learn more about how these programs are strengthening Mississippi’s workforce and ensuring more people have the skills they need to secure meaningful employment by listening to my interview on the ACT Ready to Work – Workforce Development Podcast.

If you are interested in starting your career journey, email us today at skillup@mccb.edu. We look forward to connecting you to a program in your area.

Shasta Drummond

Shasta Drummon

Changing the Hand I Was Dealt

Written by Shasta Drummond

From a young age, I’ve had the cards stacked against me. My mother was a prostitute, and my father was a drug addict. By the time I was seven years old, I found myself stuck in what seemed like an endless cycle of moving from foster home to foster home. With many factors continually changing in my life, learning in school was exceptionally difficult.

In tenth grade, I moved in with my mother and her boyfriend, which led to abuse, homelessness, and eventually dropping out of school. Years later, I became pregnant and realized that I wanted my life to change. I was tired of being at the mercy of others and wanted to give my daughter the best life I possibly could.

I left an abusive relationship, moved to Mississippi, and began pursuing my education. When I started the Smart Start program at Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC), I was terrified because of my past experiences in school. That changed, though. Mrs. Letisha Belk was such an encouraging teacher—she took away the fear and helped me feel secure and confident about my education.

Once I completed Smart Start, I enrolled in evening classes at NEMCC. I was nervous about starting the program but found support in Mrs. Courtney Casabella. She encouraged me to finish my exams and push through the testing anxiety I had. I am currently working on finishing my final test, which is in math. Mrs. Courtney has been so compassionate and such a cheerleader.

We have worked together virtually, and soon I will complete my testing and will be enrolled in a medical terminology class. This course will help prepare me for the upcoming fall semester, in which I will be a full-time student attending NEMCC’s nursing program.

It has been a long and trying road, but I have succeeded. My education will allow me to give my daughter the life I never had. I cannot express in words how much this opportunity at Northeast has meant to me.

Dayna Alford

Dayna Alford (002)

More than a High School Equivalency Diploma

When Dayna Alford arrived at the Northeast Mississippi Community College (NMCC) in Iuka, she had one goal—earning her High School Equivalency Diploma (HSE). Like many students entering the program, she was forced to leave high school before graduation due to unforeseen circumstances.

She enrolled in the Smart Start to learn essential skills like leadership and teamwork that would prepare her for success in any career she decided to pursue. Although her initial goal was earning an HSE, she learned of other programs, such as the ACT National Career Readiness Certification and MIBEST. These programs prepare people, like Dayna, to secure meaningful careers with family-sustaining pay.

Dayna’s hard work and dedication led to a recommendation for the MIBEST program by her instructors. MIBEST gave Dayna a jumpstart on college and career success by giving her a chance to complete her HSE while enrolling in college as a part-time student.

Dayna earned her HSE in January 2020 and enrolled as a full-time student at NEMCC for the fall of 2020. In five short months, Dayna earned a Smart Start credential, National Career Readiness Credential: Level Gold, and six hours of college credit. She is well on the road to a bright future.

If you want to learn more about Smart Start, HSE, and ACT NCRC programs in your area, email skillup@mccb.edu.

Dustin Hammond

Photo of Dustin Hammond with Certificate

The Power and Payoff of Perseverance

Throughout most of his school years, Dustin Hammond experienced adversity. He fell behind in his courses and was discouraged after a teacher told him that he would never graduate high school.

When navigating the trials of high school became too much for him to handle, Dustin decided to take a different route. He joined the workforce before finishing the ninth-grade. He found a job, got married, and started a family.

While working and raising five children, Dustin learned the value of hard work and dedication. He began teaching his children the value of education and the importance of staying in school. Dusted decided to lead by example, so at 29 years old, he went back to school.

Dustin enrolled in the Adult Education program at Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Corinth campus. He earned a Smart Start credential that demonstrated that he had the necessary skills to be a successful employee in any industry.

Next, he attended High School Equivalency (HSE) courses that provided him with the stimulating and encouraging environment he needed to obtain his degree. It was hard work. He attended classes at night after working long hours at his manufacturing job. But it paid off. In just five months, with his determination and with the encouragement of his teachers, Dustin earned his diploma.

His diploma opened doors. He now had the opportunity to start a college career or apply for a new job. Most importantly, he set an example for his children.

Dustin proved that no matter the trials and adversities a person battles in life, anything is achievable with hard work and perseverance.

Tyler Rasmussen

Photo of Tyler Tasmussen at Program

Taking Steps to Achieve a Goal

Submitted by Carolyn Williams
South Mississippi Community College Adult Education Director

Tyler Rasmussen’s goal is to serve the country by joining the U.S. Armed Forces.

Tyler took the first step toward his goal when he enrolled in the South Mississippi Community College (SMCC) Adult Education Program in October of 2019. Tyler completed the Smart Start program and received a Smart Start Credential in January of 2020—earning a Gold level in applied math, graphic literacy, and workplace documents. In February of 2020, Tyler received a High School Equivalency Diploma.

He now has the credentials he needs to achieve his goal of joining the military.

Ryan Ryals

Image of Ryan Ryals at Program

Hard work and Persistence Leads to Success

Submitted by Carolyn Williams
South Mississippi Community College Adult Education Director

Ryan Ryals enrolled in the South Mississippi Community College (SMCC) Adult Education Program in July of 2019. By October of that year, he completed the Smart Start program and earned a Smart Start Credential. Ryan received a gold level in graphic literacy and silver levels in applied math and workplace documents. Ryan earned a High School Equivalency diploma in February 2020.

 Ryan is an example of how hard work and persistence lead to success.

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