July Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

 Volume 11, Issue 12                                                                      July 2021


Inside this issue



Jeremy Varner
Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation


Dennis Harden
 Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical  Education


Amy Gieseke
Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges


Alison Jepsen
Executive Officer, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation

Gap Tuition Assistance Program Report released


The Gap Tuition Assistance Program: Student Outcomes longitudinal report provides an overview of the demographics, enrollment, completion and employment outcomes of participants in Gap for academic years (AY) 2015 through AY 2019. The data throughout the report show that students benefit from employment opportunities and wage gains following program completion.  Training included in the Gap Tuition Assistance program and offered at each of Iowa’s community colleges directly addresses the needs of local and regional employers by offering short-term noncredit training for students with barriers, giving them the knowledge and skills needed to become employed in many in-demand occupations. 

Read More

Contact Paula Nissen, Lead Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (paula.nissen@iowa.gov or 515-418-8273) or Mike Williams, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (mike.williams@iowa.gov or 515-725-2005) with comments or questions.

Earn and Learn programs create bright futures at Northeast Iowa Community College

Earn and Learn

Northeast Iowa Community College's (NICC) Earn and Learn programs are helping students train for a rewarding career path while allowing them to continue to earn money for their livelihood. Through grant opportunities, state innovation grants and partnerships with businesses and nonprofit organizations, the program partners students with an employer to earn an entry-level wage for the job they are training for. The student earns industry-certifications and can become a skilled asset for the employer.

“It’s like a test run of this job,” said Wendy Mihm-Herold, NICC’s vice president of business and community solutions. “They’re getting paid like they would be if fully employed in that job. Once they get certified and build their skills, they are already used to the work. That’s a cool piece.”

NICC has partnered with businesses for educational opportunities for many years, but officially, their Earn and Learn programming began in 2020 and has served around 130 students so far.

“We have Earn and Learn programs in CNA (certified nursing assistant), child care, customer construction, CNC (computer numerical control), welding, industrial maintenance, warehouse technician and assembly,” said Erin Powers-Daley, NICC’s executive director of community and student development. “For businesses, Earn and Learn programs allow them to hire the student knowing they are getting a quality candidate that they can invest time and training to build their workforce pipeline.”

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Contact Paula Nissen, Lead Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (paula.nissen@iowa.gov or 515-418-8273) with comments or questions.

Iowa's Career Coach site helps Iowans find path to career goals

career coach

The Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development and community colleges from across the state have launched Iowa’s Career Coach, an online, interactive resource that can help people find a career they love and discover what education or training they will need to achieve it. Easy-to-use assessments are available to match individuals to careers that are based on their skill strengths and personal interests.

“It really is an innovative program, and the partnership we have formed with the colleges, Iowa Workforce Development and the vendor, Emsi, has been extremely valuable,” said Paula Nissen, lead education consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. “Prior to the online career coach, a student would have to visit a minimum of 10 other sites to get the same information. The online career coach can quickly help people identify careers they could excel in and the nearby training available.”

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Contact Paula Nissen, Lead Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (paula.nissen@iowa.gov or 515-418-8273) with comments or questions.

Leadership expert brings plan of action to educators in a post-shutdown environment

sarah ennis

Sarah Ennis, a former educator and founder/president of the workplace consulting firm SparkPoint, Inc., brings her expertise on leadership skills to the 2021 Iowa Adult Education and Literacy Summer Virtual Conference on July 20-22. Her keynote address, titled “The 3 R’s Emerging from COVID – Reset, Reframe, Renew!”, showcases how educational leaders can rethink how to do business in this new age of working post-shutdown. Ennis will also be featured in two other sessions focused on emotional intelligence and leading through change.

For the past 20 years, Ennis has worked with teams and organizations to build healthy workplaces, increase productivity and drive success. As a precursor to the conference, she has shared some of her basic tenets on good leadership and how it is a key component for Iowa’s educational institutions.


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Contact Elizabeth Johnson, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges (elizabeth.johnson2@iowa.gov or 515-971-0469) with comments or questions.

Save the Date: Iowa Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Best Practices Conference

save the date

The Iowa ACTE Best Practices annual conference will be held face-to-face on September 22, 2021 at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. Iowa ACTE serves all educators and administrators in secondary (5-12) and postsecondary career and technical education settings. Their mission is to promote and support quality career and technical education for everyone through leadership, advocacy, communication, professional development and partnership. This year's conference will kick off with a CTE Without Limits presentation by Advance CTE and the CTE Bureau. A wide range of workshops will be offered during the conference. 

If you are interested in presenting at the conference, please complete the Call for Proposal Form. Proposals will be accepted through July 31.

Registration is currently open and available through September 14. Additional information can be found on the Iowa ACTE website.

New secondary CTE program notification process implemented


Community college staff may soon be getting more calls from districts interested in starting new CTE programs. Secondary schools that are planning to start a new CTE program are now contacting the Bureau of Career and Technical Education by completing a New Program Notification Form.  After submitting the form, the district will be directed to important resources and the appropriate Department consultant will provide personal assistance. The consultant will encourage the district to contact the local community college as part of the startup process to discuss potential concurrent enrollment opportunities to include in the new program. This process is in place to support high quality CTE program design and to improve communication with important stakeholders in the new program startup.

Contact Dennis Harden, Bureau Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical Education (dennis.harden@iowa.gov or 515-281-4716) or Jane Bradley, Administrative Consultant, Bureau of Career and Technical Education (jane.bradley@iowa.gov or 515-689-4402) with any questions. 

Katy Blatnick-Gagne elected president elect for Lead FCS


Katy Blatnick-Gagne, education program consultant for career and technical education, was elected as the 2021-2022 president-elect for Lead FCS. Blatnick-Gagne has extensive experience teaching FCS, serving as an advisor and overseeing FCS programs at the state level. Lead FCS is a national organization that works to provide leadership for sustainable family and consumer sciences (FCS) education programs. The organization is made up of FCS state administrators, educators and businesses and industry leaders.

Chris Dzurick elected chair-elect for National FBLA-PBL Board of Directors

Chris D.

Chris Dzurick, education program consultant for career and technical education, was elected as the chair-elect of the Future Business Leaders of America - Phi Beta Lambda during academic year 2021-22. Dzurick will serve as chair in academic year 2022-23 and past chair in academic year 2023-24. Dzurick has served FBLA-PBL for 14 years, including roles as a local officer, a state officer and a national officer when he was elected FBLA North Central Region vice president.