When Dr. Paul Illich took over as president of Southeast Community College in 2014, he had a vision to make college services more accessible throughout SCC’s 15-county service area.
Through research and assessment, Plattsmouth was selected as one of six locations to open a Learning Center, not only because of its strategic location, but because of its positive community impact.
“The Learning Centers were opened in the communities to grant local people easier access to college services,” said Lyn Belitz, coordinator of SCC’s Learning Center in Plattsmouth, which opened in October 2016. “That easy access is what we hear is most appreciated, being able to get assistance, direction and information close to home.
“Being involved in the community, having an advisory committee specific to the Learning Center and asking for input along the way brings the college information as it is happening so that we can be responsive. This includes growth and change in area elementary and high schools, businesses and economic development.”
Located in the Historic District on Main Street in the Dovey Building, the Learning Center has an historic motif through the common areas, although the classrooms are all modern, with state-of-the-art equipment.
There are three classrooms, two huddle rooms and one health sciences classroom that is connected to SCC’s Lincoln campus by microphone, speakers and an interactive mannequin.
“This new interactive system expands the distance learning opportunities for our health science programs,” Belitz said. “We have nursing assistant classes scheduled for the spring 2021 semester that begins in January, and also a condensed class during summer 2021. These are hybrid classes, with the lecture and book portions completed on the students’ time and the lab portions scheduled in the classroom.”
The SCC Learning Center at Plattsmouth serves Cass County, although students from beyond the county borders utilize its services and attend classes.
Classes offered encompass workforce development, including technical and supervisory; credit classes toward general education and academic transfer goals; and non-credit classes which include computer training, leisure and personal development.
Students can advance their knowledge of history just for fun or hone their skills in painting, as well as finances, computers or conflict resolution.
“If you are looking to improve yourself for work, self-development or just for fun, there are class options to choose from,” Belitz said.
College services also are available at the Learning Center. Belitz assists students with the college experience, including career advising, scholarship information, registering for classes, contact with tutoring and more.
Students can take their classes at the Center several different ways: in-person, via distance learning technology and online in nonsynchronous web-based classes.
The college also has robots – or iPads on rolling Segways – on its campuses that students can use to attend class by driving a robot to class.
“The student’s face shows on the iPad, and this gives many options for in-class group participation and moving the robot to see what is happening or who is speaking around the room,” Belitz said. “Of course, a student can also attend a class in person, although there are fewer in-person classes taken at the Center than the other options.”
Cinda Konken, dean of SCC’s extended learning program, assures that the college continues to take the necessary precautions to keep all of its campuses and learning centers COVID-safe – being in constant contact with local health departments to ensure they are following directed health measures and other safety and control protocols.
For Plattsmouth, as well as all of the SCC properties, community is the key.
Being involved, helping businesses develop their employees and working with organizations that offer scholarships for local students are just a small part of what SCC does.
“The mission of Southeast Community College is to empower and transform the diverse learners and communities of southeast Nebraska through accessible lifelong educational opportunities,” Konken said. “The college provides dynamic and responsive pathways to career and technical, academic transfer and continuing education programs that contribute to personal, community and workforce development.
“The Learning Centers were created for people to promote lifelong learning and continuous personal growth, based on the needs of the community and employers in the region.”
Visit www.southeast.edu/plattsmouthlc for more information.