The Parkland College Blog

Changing Lives: Highway Construction Careers Training

Join the HCCTP by attending a free orientation session in January

In just under four months, local residents Frankie Hernandez and Dylan Trimble have transformed their lives.

Last winter, they decided to join the Highway Construction Careers Training Program at Parkland College after attending an orientation session. HCCTP, a state program, offers free critical skills training and education in the highway construction trades to women, minorities, and disadvantaged individuals, but the program is open to anyone.

In early July, on the day before Hernandez and Trimble officially graduated, we spotted them working, on Mattis Avenue, and stopped to talk. While an apprentice’s pay is good, they remarked, their employer decided to give them over $7/hour more than they expected.

“Yeah, we are getting the full rate of pay,” Hernandez said. Trimble nodded and extended his hands outward.

“It’s awesome,” he said, referring to either the pay or the job, or both.

One of the seasoned workers on the crew stepped out from the shade of a nearby tree and looked directly at me, adding, “These are good guys. We’re glad to have them.” In fact, if you had just passed by the crew, you would never have guessed who the new guys were. They were focused, working, and part of the team.

So how did Hernandez and Trimble get here? Like many of our HCCTP students, every story is different, but they both wanted to make a lasting change.

“It’s good work. It’s real work,” said Hernandez, standing half in and half out of a square hole their crew had cut out of Mattis Avenue, his gloved hands resting on his waist. “I’m really glad to be working.” Hernandez had attended one of the three orientation classes we offer that inform potential students of the expectations of the HCCTP: Show up on time and do your best.

Students have to have a high school diploma or equivalency, and they must pass a drug screening test. They must be at least 18 and have an interest in the construction trades.

During their first six weeks, Hernandez and Trimble learned math-specific skills for the industry; life skills; construction site safety; equipment training (aerial lift, scissor lift, skid steer, backhoe/end loader, crane safety and rigging, crane signaling, extended reach fork lift, and fork lift); and flagger training. For the following nine weeks they performed hands-on general-construction and skilled-trades training, including stick welding, basic plumbing, electrical work, and sheet metal work.

“The math skills really helped me,” Hernandez said. “I improved a lot in that area so I could do my job.” Trimble had a different takeaway from the experience.

“I like the big machines,” he said, laughing.

Before their first working gig on Mattis Avenue, both men were paid to learn skills to enter the trades. The HCCTP also provides pens, pencils, paper, books, work boots, tools, etc. All students have to do is make sure they wear jeans that are free from rips or tears and be punctual, ready to work, and ready to learn.

Anyone interested in joining the Highway Construction Careers Training Program must first attend an orientation session at the Business Training and Community Education office, 1315 N. Mattis Avenue in Champaign. Our upcoming sessions take place Jan 29 at 2 p.m. and Jan. 30 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Please call 217/351-2235 for more information, or apply online.

 

[This blog post first appeared July 11, 2018.]

"I think my niche is helping people who have been failed by our education and justice systems," Cathy Salika once wrote.

And who is Cathy Salika? She's only the inspirational Project READ literacy tutor after whom we've modeled our new Project READ Outstanding Service Award—and, naturally, the award's inaugural recipient! We will honor this Urbana resident with our award Saturday, Oct. 6 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Parkland College Student Union, an event culminating our celebration of National Tutoring Week, and you're welcome to join us there.

The Project READ Outstanding Service Award honors an exceptional Project READ tutor whose uncommon dedication makes our community a better place, inspiring the following elements of community service:

1) striving to increase the reach of high-quality, reliable, volunteer tutoring services to the most marginalized and vulnerable adults in our community

2) demonstrating commitment, dedication, and passion for helping adults improve their abilities in reading, writing, math, or English so that they can increase their civic engagement, workforce potential, and quality of life.

We gratefully fashion this recognition after the outstanding service of Cathy, who started with Project READ in 2012. And here's why:

  • When Project READ funding was renewed after a two-year hiatus, Cathy was among the first to respond to our call for new tutors. But what we learned was that, despite the budget impasse and the resulting lack of infrastructural support, Cathy never stopped working with her Project READ learner. "No one told us to stop, and we didn't!" she said.
  • When we needed tutors who could volunteer to teach math to female inmates at the satellite jail, Cathy raised her hand, went through the security protocol, and began assisting a learner in the correctional center. She went on to tutor several inmates, men, and women, at the downtown jail and the satellite jail over the course of the grant year. In fact, she became so adept and passionate about serving learners in the correctional centers, she facilitated a special training session for Project READ tutors to learn how to volunteer in the jails, addressing what to expect of the institution and how to best help incarcerated learners develop and progress toward their goals.
  • When we initiated our Drop-in Tutoring program in February of this year, Cathy began tutoring at all of our daytime sites, expanding her service from Adult Basic Education (math and literacy) to include English for speakers of other languages. She signed up to help us run an ESL lab in Rantoul, and when that site finished its term, she continued to ask for more learners to work with. Cathy tutored more than 150 hours between February and July 2018! "The drop-in sites have been good for me as a tutor," Cathy said. "It's easier for me to ask advice of the staff."
  • Cathy facilities learning in all areas with ease, confidence, innovation, reliability—and flexibility! Sometimes we get flooded with unexpected learners at a drop-in site, and when we ask to seat someone with Cathy, she always says, "We'll make it work." We've seen her tutor math to a learner on her left who is preparing for the GED and tutor an ESL learner on her right who recognized her from a previous session and asked to continue to work with her.

Cathy Salika is truly exceptional. The staff at Project READ is fond of saying that if we had 20 Cathy Salikas, we could change the world. Her attitude and philosophy about tutoring explain why we feel this way:

"I love to watch people warm up to a subject as they master it," Cathy said. "The learners come to us with basic needs in English, reading or math. They come asking for help, which isn't always an easy thing to do, and I respect them for that. Many of them have been held back by poverty, family problems, or learning differences. Sometimes they gain better job opportunities, more independence, or more self-confidence from their efforts to learn with us. Their joy in meeting their goals and their pride of accomplishment are an inspiration to me."

Cathy's passion for uplifting our community through learner-centered, personalized Adult Education sets the bar high, and we are grateful for her tremendous contributions. If you'd also like to be an adult tutor for math, reading, or English, or need tutoring services yourself or someone you know, we invite you to join us at Project READ. Please contact our office by email at ProjectREAD@parkland.edu or by calling 217/353-2662.

Degree Completion Day

Come learn about the other end of registration and how to get there

Are you just getting started at Parkland working toward a degree? Degree Completion Day might be an easy way to make your schedule for the whole two years through student planning.

Maybe your mom or dad has some credits from Parkland but never completed a degree. You could both come to Degree Completion Day, Wednesday Oct. 3 from 9:30 to 1:30 in the U building and find out what’s needed to finish.

Perhaps you’re just “this close" to a certificate. Counselors will be available to check your success. Financial Aid will be there to let you know if you might qualify for a Pell Grant. If you think you will finish in fall or spring, we will have Graduation Petitions for you to submit to Admissions, and you can find out what the commencement ceremony is all about. In addition, we'll have refreshments and a raffle with WPCD-FM live streaming!

Come on over to the Student Union and learn about the other end of registration. See you there.

[Dennis Kaczor, Counseling Services]

 

National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, September 23-29, helps bring attention to the more than 36 million adults in the United States who cannot read, write, or perform simple math calculations.

Parkland College Adult Education provides free basic literacy, English as a second language, and high school equivalency instruction to local adults and out-of-school youth. We support and encourage many students throughout the year who each have unique and compelling stories. Jacob Bernard is one example of whom we serve.

Jacob attended public school through the second grade. His mother then opted to meet his education needs with a homeschooling approach called the Unschooling Method. This method promotes non-structured, child-led learning with no set curriculum or schedule. Jacobs’s talents and interests guided his education toward film, photography, and video production. This approach did not require him to advance in mathematics beyond his second-grade instruction.

As a young man, Jacob recognized the need for some of the basic elements that were lacking in his education and determined that he would earn his GED. He began this pursuit in the fall of 2017, immersing himself in the learning materials his instructors taught and attended individual tutoring sessions. He passed all of his GED tests on his first attempt and earned his certificate on April 20, 2018.

Jacob currently works part time at Urbana Public Television (UPT) as a camera operator. He also works to create promotional videos for a company called MUTI, where he is responsible for production, coordination, scheduling, and shooting. Additionally, Jacob has done some work for WCIA as a freelance, camera operator. Finally, Jacob plans to continue his post-secondary education at Parkland College in the spring.

Parkland College Adult Education allowed Jacob the resources and tools to accomplish his goals, gain confidence and pursue his passion at a higher level. Literacy impacts every area of a person’s life. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about Parkland College Adult Education, please contact our office at (217) 351-2580 or adulteducation@parkland.edu. 

#AEFLWeek #AdultEDU

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