JWCC trustees learn more about initiatives helping students find career paths, enjoy success as first-gen student

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QUINCY — John Wood Community College Board of Trustees heard a report on the college’s Guided Pathways and Caring Campus initiatives during its regular meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Informed by data from the Community College Research Center, Guided Pathways is a national student success improvement model endorsed by the American Association of Community Colleges.  The model is focused on early identification of a career pathway and supported by customized course sequences, learning experiences, and community connections based on a student’s chosen direction. 

“When students can clarify their career path as early as possible and relate every course and learning experience to that plan, success and completion rates greatly improve,” JWCC President Bryan Renfro noted in a press release. 

“Community colleges are great at providing open access and a place for students to find their way, but we don’t want students to waste any time at all defining their path. Pathways gives more direction through early conversations and assessments to place them in what are called meta majors, that then can be narrowed into precise career pathways.”

In support of the Guided Pathways process, JWCC was recently selected as one of only 18 community colleges nationwide to receive grant funding for a Caring Campus initiative.  A grant from the Institute for Evidence-Based Change will support staff and faculty training to deliver more intensive and comprehensive wraparound support services to students.

A Caring Campus designation indicates a community college’s investment in improving success rates for rural and first-generation students. Through intentional and meaningful connections with faculty, staff, and community members, barriers to students’ success are identified and met to improve credential and degree completion.

JWCC faculty and staff have met with a Caring Campus and Guided Pathways Coach during a collegewide professional development event held last week on its Quincy campus.  The college will continue to receive training from its coach in the next year and share data and resources with a national network of colleges committed to the effort.

“Students stay on the path to completion at even higher rates when they have meaningful connections with faculty and staff who learn about their dreams and take the time to connect them with resources to eliminate barriers inside and outside of the classroom,” Renfro shared. “Those barriers range from transportation issues, test anxiety, childcare and food insecurity. Sometimes simply having someone in their corner who believes in and challenges them makes all the difference.”

Guided Pathways and Caring Campus are evidence-based initiatives that have proven to increase student success and completion rates in more than 16 states. JWCC joins Oakton Community College as the only two institutions in Illinois to join the Caring Campus initiative. 

“Since our founding nearly 50 years ago, John Wood has focused on innovation to reach all students at every age and walk of life so they could fulfill their hopes and dreams,” Renfro said. “Becoming a Pathways College and Caring Campus is how we continue JWCC’s legacy of blazing trails so more students can attain a college degree, a family-sustainable career, and a commitment to our communities.”

In other business, trustees:

  • Approved a memorandum of understanding to the collective bargaining agreement regarding Board Procedure 509.1 regarding reimbursement of tuition for courses taken at accredited institutions of higher education.
  • Approved an increase in insurance premium costs to JWCC and its employees of approximately 9.5 percent.
  • Accepted a proposal and awarded a bid to Henrickson and Company for $123,293.34 for Workforce Development Center furniture.
  • Adopted a resolution to abate tax levied for 2023 to pay debt service on general education bonds.
  • Approved resolution regarding the intent to levy the equity adjustment for the 2023 tax year as allowed by Section 3-14.3 of the Illinois Public Community College Act.

The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, on the JWCC campus at 48th and Harrison in Quincy.

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