The Parkland College Blog

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 Wednesday, 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.

Spring Enrollment Blitz 2021

Register for Spring 2021 semester classes with the help of an Admissions Advisor through Jan. 9

Parkland College is helping residents sign up for Spring 2021 classes both at the campus and virtually through a one-stop enrollment services event.

WHAT:    Spring Enrollment Blitz 2021
WHO:     The public; Parkland College Student Services representatives
WHEN:   Mon–Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Jan. 8; Sat, Jan. 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WHERE: Parkland College Student Services offices and via Zoom

DETAILS: Spring Enrollment Blitz 2021 runs now through Jan. 9, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., both on-campus and via Zoom. Students can visit the offices listed below on campus during these hours. Zoom hours are the same as in-person hours (including Saturday, Jan. 9) but Tuesday and Thursday will go from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Since Parkland College's spring semester classes begin Monday, Jan. 11, the event is especially useful for those who have steps yet to complete in their enrollment.

During Enrollment Blitz, new and returning students can receive help from the college's Student Services offices, including Admissions and Records, Financial Aid and Veteran Services, Assessment Center, and Counseling Services. Additionally, the Parkland College Bookstore, the cashier's office, and the library (for laptop pickup) will also be open on Saturday, Jan. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. From completing an admissions or financial aid application to registering for classes, Enrollment Blitz has what all students need to prepare for a great new semester.

For more information on Spring Enrollment Blitz 2021, go to, contact Admissions and Records at 217/351-2482 or email

Parkland College Foundation Receives $1.5M Gift

Parkland Foundation Receives Largest Donation In Their History

Having received its largest cash gift ever from a single donor, the Parkland College Foundation recently awarded 12 new spring 2021 scholarships to Ford County residents.

The generous $1.5 million gift, from the estate of C. Paul and Marjorie Davis of Gibson City, came as a surprise in early December to the Foundation, which had no prior connection with the Davises except a passion for education.

C. Paul Davis was a WWII veteran and UIUC graduate who settled in Gibson City to farm, where he married Marjorie. Marjorie Davis was a teacher with a lifelong dedication to the profession. Her accomplishments in the career include teaching English for 24 years, primarily at Stephen Decatur High School and Champaign Central High School; serving as co-teacher leader for high school summer abroad programs; serving as state secretary of the National Council of Teachers; and having a professional membership in Delta Kappa Gamma professional honor society for women educators.

Their gift will continue their legacy by providing scholarships to students from Ford County. Executive Director of the Parkland College Foundation, Tracy Wahlfeldt, expressed her gratitude toward the late couple:

"We are so appreciative of this amazing gift!" Wahlfeldt said. "Mr. and Mrs. Davis' memory will live on through the students whose lives and educational journey are impacted by their scholarship. I wish I had the opportunity to thank them in person."

The first recipients of the Cecil Paul and Marjorie Wilson Davis Scholarship are Katie Johnson, Gowyn Kelly, Allison Heavilin, Ashlyn McPherson, Jadrien Miles, Melissa Walker Salyards, Hannah Hein, Jordan Frederick, Paige Shelton, Lani Crim, Gracie Conover, and Breanna Brokate. The $2,000 awards for the spring 2021 semester will be used for tuition, fees, and/or books.

Please visit for more information about the Parkland College Foundation. Mr. Paul Davis and Mrs. Marjorie Davis' obituaries can be found at the