JOHN Wood Community College's efforts to increase its presence and strengthen educational opportunities for those in the southeast portion of the college district have been definitive successes.
The college's new Southeast Education Center just outside Pittsfield, which opened in August, has seen an increase in enrollment through a wider range of offerings and a state-of-the-art facility.
JWCC has also made a concerted effort to become a stronger voice in Pike County and nearby regions, working with economic development and social service voices representing Pittsfield and the surrounding area.
Most important, the long-range impact of the new center might eventually be seen most in its overall effect on the local economy and future workforce. Kaye Iftner, longtime executive director of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, is one of the new education center's biggest supporters.
Iftner has gone on record saying the college's commitment to the area is important in the face of a changing landscape for local industry, including agriculture. She calls the relationship between JWCC and the region "a good marriage."
The college's southeast district not only includes all of Pike County, but portions of Cass, Calhoun, Morgan and Scott counties. The heart of the district's southeast area, however, has always been in Pittsfield and the surrounding communities of Pike County, where it has had a presence since 1979.
The new center offers many amenities not found in previous JWCC sites in the area. Enhanced classrooms, offices and a health science lab for certified nursing assistant and prerequisite nursing courses are among the new center's features. So are other offerings, such as a cyberlounge and space for community events and training. Additional space on the second level will be used when expansion is warranted in the future.
Moreover, the new Southeast Education Center offers both day and evening classes through a combination of traditional, structured courses and individualized open learning coursework. A student can take all classes necessary to complete an associate degree at the center, saving the mileage and time needed to commute to JWCC's main campus in Quincy.
In addition, the new center offers student services that include counseling and testing, the opportunity to participate in all JWCC student activities, and additional educational offerings such as free adult education/GED classes and a variety of personal-interest courses.
The college's blueprint for this new center was a well thought-out process, and dividends are already being reaped -- for both JWCC and the community where it is housed.