The Parkland College Blog

Parkland Trustees Approve Remote Learning Support Purchases

Board of Trustees general meeting, Jan. 20

Parkland College is purchasing technology upgrades that make it easier for students to enroll at the college and to learn once they reach the classroom.

At its first regular meeting of the new year Wednesday, the Parkland College Board of Trustees voted to approve the purchase of Comevo Launch Online Orientation Software for $43,280. Using Comevo, the college will be able to offer new students an interactive and customizable online orientation that reduces the need for in-person contact, staff involvement, and paper consumption. Students will be able to complete orientation at their convenience via desktop or mobile and move through the enrollment process more efficiently.

Trustees also approved the purchase of instructional and office computer hardware and software from Dell for $270,000. The new Dell equipment will support the school's rotational plan for computer replacement, classroom instruction enhancement, and the updating of servers, data storage, and security requirements.

Finally, the board received recommended changes to the Policy and Procedures Manual from the Parkland College Association. The changes will be voted on during the board's February meeting.

In other business, trustees approved:

  • the filing of the following grant applications:

    • Champaign Rotary Club: Frank Clark Grants

  • acceptance of funds from external sources:

    • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC): Global and International Studies in Social Science Course Development (Dept. Ed. Title VI Funding via REEEC)

  • personnel appointments:

    • Alicia Beck, Director of Support for Workforce Training, Communications and External Affairs

    • Ryan Doebel, Technical Support Specialist, Campus Technologies

    • John Fitzpatrick, Certified Flight Instructor, Institute of Aviation

    • Madelyn Gunn, Department Assistant, Arts and Sciences

    • Sarah Hartman, Student Records Advisor, Admissions

    • Alexis Hasler, Academic Success Advisor, Counseling and Advising

    • Cole Herrmann, Technical Support Specialist, Campus Technologies

    • Dylan Kirsanoff, Technical Support Specialist, Campus Technologies

    • Karen Morgan, Academic Success Advisor, Counseling and Advising

    • Steve Wilson, Academic Success Advisor, Counseling and Advising

Planetarium Lecture to Examine Climate History in Lake Sediment

Staerkel Planetarium to host paleoclimatology Kaler Lecture

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will host a presentation on paleoclimatology for the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 5.

Dr. Jessica Conroy, associate professor in the Departments of Geology and Plant Biology at UIUC, will give a talk titled, "Climate, Water, Life, and Rock: Past Climate Information in Tropical Pacific Lake Sediments". The public lecture is free to attend on Zoom.

The coral atoll of Kiritimati (pronounced "Christmas") in the central tropical Pacific Ocean contains hundreds of brackish to hypersaline lakes that are a window into past climate variability in the region. These lakes and their sediments are also valuable archives that can be used to explore fundamental questions about how information about past environments is archived in lake sediments.

Dr. Conroy's group research in this region includes how remotely-sensed lake surface area responds to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. Using sedimentology, stable isotope geochemistry, and organic biomarkers, the group can get a record of climate change on Kiritimati over the last millennium.

Having earned her B.A. in Geology from the College of Wooster, Dr. Conroy received her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Before joining the University of Illinois in 2013, she was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech.

The Staerkel Planetarium is presenting programs virtually to the public on Friday nights, and offers shows for schools and private groups. Public shows are rebroadcast on the planetarium's YouTube page. The Planetarium staff will present a special edition of Winter Prairie Skies on the same Zoom meeting after the conclusion of Dr. Conroy's Kaler Lecture at 8 p.m. This show is an interactive tour of the night sky, and special editions feature a topic of interest based on audience suggestions or astronomical events. For a full show schedule and for links to the Zoom meetings, visit the planetarium website or email

Trials to Triumphs for New ECCA Education Pathway Students

ECCA Education Pathway First Semester A Success

The newest career pathway for the Early College and Career Academy at Parkland College got off to a rocky start this fall, but program instructors and students consider its first semester a success.

Education is the eighth program under the ECCA, the dual credit joint program of Education for Employment #330 and Parkland College. This pathway provides early college training for area high school seniors who want to pursue teaching as a career path, and has been designed as a means to help fill the gap in the district's Pre K-12 teacher shortage.

In a semester filled with unforeseen challenges, program directors and instructors were tasked with finding a way to provide high-quality education for students while combating the spread of coronavirus, according to Charles Larenas, associate professor in Education and one of the ECCA Education Pathway students' instructors.

"The students asked me to teach on-campus, so I did until November 20," he said. "We respected one another; we all wore our masks, and we followed social distancing protocols, so we felt comfortable being together on-campus. If a student wasn't able to attend class, they joined us virtually on Microsoft Teams. We made it work."

Though the semester was uniquely challenging, both Larenas and EFE #330 Director Nick Elder said students rose to the challenges, stayed on course, and experienced a successful semester’s end.

"The students are amazing," Larenas said. "I think each one of them is a superstar. We had a great first semester." Elder said students now look forward to spring semester, in which they will take EDU 104, Introduction to Special Education and PSY 220, Educational Psychology. Elder noted that the two classes will continue to build on the knowledge the students gained during the fall semester and provide a great pathway to careers in education.

"The courses are very hands-on, so that gives students a better opportunity to be engaged every class period," said Larenas, adding that he feels positive his students will be excited to see him again in the spring. "I am sure they are also looking forward to another semester of my jokes."

Once students complete the Education pathway, they can expect continued support from EFE #330 and a guaranteed job interview from the students' home school district once they earn their professional educator's license, according to Elder.

"The coursework and observation experience students complete during the ECCA Education Pathway will place these students on a fast track to entering the field of education," he said. "EFE #330 is working to put a system in place so we are able to maintain contact with these students throughout their college years, with the hope that they will return to teach locally."

Launched in November 2014, the Early College and Career Academy is a collaboration of the EFE #330 K-12 career and technical education cooperative and Parkland College. At the academy, high school juniors and seniors earn dual credit for courses in certain skill-based programs: Automotive, Computer Networking, Computer Programming, Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Services (Health Professions or Fire Service focus), Certified Nursing Assistant, Industrial Technology, and Education Pathway. The academy benefits not only area students, but also local businesses, due to the increased skill level of the incoming workforce.

For more information on the ECCA Education Pathway, contact Elder at or 217/355-1382. Visit the ECCA page to learn more about the Early College and Career Academy.
Parkland College Community Education and Giertz Gallery will be hosting a virtual art competition for District 505 youth ages 7-18.

The Celebrate the Arts! Youth Art Competition will run until Thursday, March 3, 2021. Students have a chance to win full summer 2021 scholarships for either College for Kids Camp or a Summer Discovery Camp. Each of the three age categories will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, with honorable mentions.

"Giertz Gallery and Community Education are delighted to offer students the opportunity to partake in a virtual art contest and exhibit," said Terry Thies, Youth Program Manager of Community Education. "During a time when in-person participation with the arts is impacted due to the pandemic, we wanted to find a safe way to encourage students to continue creating, enjoying, and engaging with, art."

Selected works will be featured on Parkland's social media pages, and winners will be announced by Tuesday, March 9 at a Virtual Awards Ceremony.

Entries will be judged by Paula McCarty and Laura O'Donnell. Paula McCarty is the art exhibitions curator and designer for the Springer Cultural Center in Champaign, and teaches classes through Community Education. Laura O'Donnell teaches Art History at Eastern Illinois University.

A full list of rules can be found at Questions about the contest can be directed to

Aviation Students Earn Fall 2020 Flight Credentials

Institution of Aviation students earn credentials for fall semester

The following students earned flight credentials from the Institute of Aviation at Parkland College during the college's fall 2020 semester.

Soloed for the First Time in a Piper Archer
Benjamin Barker, Rantoul
Jacob Beuttel, Decatur
James Boyd, Tuscola
Coalton Camden, Mt. Zion
Rylee Defebaugh, Clinton
Charles Evans, Chicago
Arthur King III, Tolono
Dawson Kostenski, Decatur
Zachary Megginson, Springfield
Christopher Murphy, Chicago
Juan Portillo, Champaign
Abel Verbeek, Crete
George Wilson, Urbana

Earned the Private Pilot Airplane Single-Engine Land (ASEL) Certificate
Adrian Bituin, Rantoul
Zeth McCloud, St. Joseph
Albert Mowatt, Oakwood
Anna Nielsen, Mahomet
Logan Threlkeld, Benton
Earned the Commercial Instrument Rating ASEL Certificate
Daniel Filips, Gurnee
Paolo Kinsella, Bement
Tallon Myers, Clinton
Julia Williams, Northbrook
Nicholas Wolff, Mattoon

Earned the Commercial Pilot ASEL Certificate
Leonardo Andrade, Champaign
Timothy Arp, Decatur
Lucas Charles, Sidney
John Kolis, Springfield
Ian Kunz, White Heath
Daniel Wyckoff, Buckley

Earned the Instructor-Instrument ASEL Certificate
Jake Fredericks, Danville

Earned the Commercial Pilot Multi Engine Land Certificate
Jeffrey Stimson, Park Ridge

The Fall 2020 students are the last to achieve certifications under the leadership of Chief Pilot Don Talleur before his retirement, effective at the end of 2020.

Parkland College assumed ownership of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Institute of Aviation in fall 2014, leasing its aircraft and facilities at Willard Airport in Savoy to continue flight training. The College has continued the excellent instruction provided by the University's institute, which educated more than 13,000 pilots in its 70-year history. Many of its graduates are employed in the aviation industry around the world.

Along with the two-year degree in aviation, students can earn a private pilot certificate and commercial pilot ratings, including multi-engine land and flight instructor.