Iowa Central Community College has its eye on producing educated and well-versed adults
At the turn of the 20th century, the renowned American philosopher and sociologist, W.E.B. DuBois, made a compelling case for the future of all citizens of America. He claimed that in every society there was always a “talented 10th” or a top 10 percent who are leaders and have tremendous influence within a given society. The commonality of this “talented 10th” is that individuals are educated and well-versed within fields of the Arts and Sciences.
In the early beginnings of the American 20th century, business and industry was at an all-time high in terms of production and employment. In many cases, the hands-on labor workforce was well supplied with personnel consisting of American citizens and immigrants from abroad while the well-educated or the “talented 10th” were the authorities making decisions for the government, business and every aspect within the United States.
In today’s modern American society, there is a renewed call to increase the American labor force for the jobs of the future. In contrast to the 20th century, this labor force must be better educated and skilled to meet the demands of employment for a global economy.
Community colleges in America have answered the call and continue to educate, train and shape the lives of individual students to prepare them for employment in the 21st century. However, as community colleges continue to prepare students for the workforce, we must not lose focus of the additional purpose and mission for most across the county. Thus, we also must prepare students to have a strong background in traditional academic subjects so these students have a chance toward becoming members of the “talented 10th.”
It is imperative for Iowa Central Community College to emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics — STEM — in association with state and federal initiatives to produce strong American leaders and preserve American democracy and values.
The state of Iowa is primed to produce future leaders within the STEM field. With the leadership of Iowa Lt. Gov. Reynolds and Dr. Chris Nelson, the educational focus upon STEM initiatives has strong moral and financial support.
It is the goal of the academic team at Iowa Central Community College to seize upon these state endeavors and initiatives and place our students in the STEM areas of need.
Twenty-first century jobs require strong academic and technical preparation within specific areas. With some of the recent world and national current events affecting our lives, one of the strongest needs within the STEM areas is within the fields of technology. Iowa Central will prepare students by providing the most recent technological advancements in computer programing and software and providing excellent instruction to prepare them for real world employment opportunities with private and government entities.
Mathematics is another field where Iowa Central is preparing students for entrance into the STEM field. Considered one of the toughest roadblocks toward student success, mathematics is a the foundational subject within STEM areas. The mathematics department at Iowa Central has become innovative in its pedagogical approach toward student learning. The department discovered initial student placement into math courses is the key to improving student success. In other words, if a student is incorrectly placed into math course from the beginning of his/her academic career, then the level of success becomes more difficult to achieve. Breaking from tradition, the mathematics department has begun to use a more strategic placement software, known as ALEKs, instead of the traditional testing modules used for placement. ALEKs has shown tremendous results within the academic year and far contributes more positive success toward student placement and retention than any software on record.
To emphasize the importance of STEM to Iowa Central Community College, the region served, as well as the state of Iowa, the Academic Affairs team at Iowa Central Community College has initiated planning for hosting a regional/statewide conference that will not only define and display the relevance of STEM, but also provide the service of professional development for elementary and high school teachers within the state.
Data indicates many children and teens lose interest in STEM subjects as early as the second grade. Interest is lost because many of the teachers assigned to these grade levels do not have the STEM background or have limited knowledge of the content within STEM fields. Plans are underway for Iowa Central Community College to host a STEM conference in the near future which, in time, could expand on a national and international level. In partnership with the service area’s businesses and key financial donors, the conference is expected to have tremendous success. In addition, the outcome of the conference will bring local, state and national exposure for our highly trained STEM faculty at Iowa Central Community College and a chance to recruit more students and solidify their interest in the STEM fields.
Iowa Central is ready for the challenge and it all starts with its talented faculty. The faculty at Iowa Central Community College are among the best and brightest in the nation. As members of the elite talented 10th, its faculty strives to educate all students who are thirsty for knowledge and self-improvement.
We all believe that everyone can learn and attempt to assist student learning by going the “extra mile” for each student. Iowa Central faculty is united in the service toward student learning, college and community service with the establishment of seven hallmarks. These hallmarks are aligned with Iowa Central Community College’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, 2016-2017 Enrollment Management Plan, Mission, Vision, and Service Excellence Values:
• An unshakeable focus on student learning
• Service and community engagement
• Strong and open communication
• Personal and professional growth
• Multicultural competence and language acquisition
• Interdisciplinary collaboration
All of Iowa Central Community College live, breathe and own these hallmarks. Students and our surrounding community will discover that we practice what we believe.
The future is bright for Iowa Central Community College and our firm commitment to educating students and serving the community is stronger than ever with a renewed focus upon exciting academic endeavors. We are excited to take on the new challenges that may face us in the future. Challenges will only be temporary as we take them head on and grow stronger as a result. In academics, we will continue to produce positive results toward student success and transform individual lives. Iowa Central will continue to contribute toward the growth of America and the global economy.
Dr. Dreand Johnson is vice president of Instruction at Iowa Central Community College.