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Sound Bites - Issue #38 - October 2016

On the Cover 
SMC Investing in Employee Training with Community Ed

Flavio Medina-Martin, SMC HR analystFlavio Medina-Martin, SMC HR analyst (left), was instrumental in getting Community Ed courses included in the college's tuition reimbursement program

Night Shift Custodian Donnell SwansonNight Shift Custodian Donnell Swanson, beneficiary of the tuition reimbursement program for Comm Ed classes

LeRoy Nakamura from Media ServicesLeRoy Nakamura from Media Services, has taken a website development class at Community Ed

SMC classified - or non-teaching - employees have been taking Community Ed classes for decades, but have been paying for the courses themselves or, in a handful of cases, college department funds have been used.

But now, with a recent clarification of the classified employee tuition reimbursement policy, these workers can apply for up to $750 a year to take Community Ed classes, as long as certain requirements are met.

"This opportunity to take classes at Community Ed with reimbursement from Professional Development funds has always been there, we just didn?t know how to implement it," said Flavio Medina-Martin, SMC Human Resources analyst. "This opportunity might not have been on the radar of our classified employees, but now it will be."

"We're thrilled with this development because we believe we are a valuable resource to our college community, as well as our larger community, particularly as we expand our Professional Development program," said Michelle King, Director of Career & Contract Education.

Medina-Martin explained that tuition waivers are available for the for-credit courses offered at SMC, but not for the non-credit classes offered through Community Ed. But once it was established that Community Ed is considered a separate entity from the college, then the reimbursement policy could kick in.

And many are already happy to hear this news.

Night shift custodian Donnell Swanson took a mediation class at Community Ed, paying for it himself. However, he said with the clarified policy, he will be reimbursed from Professional Development funds.

"The mediation class allowed me to better understand disgruntled employees and how to work with them," Swanson said. "My experience with the class was positive and informative."

Swanson - who is currently enrolled in and paid himself for Community Ed's Commercials, Improv, Acting & Filming class - plans to take several more courses, including Import/Export and Assertive Communication. He is hopeful he will be reimbursed for the Assertive Communication class.

Managers are also glad to hear about the reimbursement policy.

"I believe the SMC Community Education Program is a real benefit to all who choose it as a skill-building pathway," said Al DeSalles, Manager of Media & Reprographic Services.

Last spring, DeSalles had sent two of his employees - Media Services Technicians Leroy Nakamura and Brandon Williams - to a Community Ed website development class to increase their technical skills, particularly for web video production. (He paid for the classes out of his department's budget.) And he was pleased with the results.

"Both my employees seemed very enthused by the weekly lesson plans and assignments," DeSalles said. "I was very pleased with the website design course as the outcome was their increased knowledge of Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop."

Medina-Martin said there are eligibility requirements to qualify for reimbursement funds, including that the classes must directly relate to the employee?s current classification. However, he said there is flexibility built in to the policy. For example, if an employee wants to take such courses as stress reduction, or conflict resolution, or dealing with difficult people, those could be seen as valuable to a worker's job performance.

One of the great advantages of taking a class at Community Ed is its location, Medina-Martin said. "That's a huge factor because as you know traffic is terrible, so why not have it in your own back yard?"

What's New
Winter Open House Bigger & Better!

Alice Meyering

Open HouseInstructors will be on hand at the January Open House to answer questions and talk about their classess

Open House visitorsVisitors will receive a 15% discount on classes if they register at the Open House 2017

from the desk of Alice Meyering
It's not even Halloween yet, but I'm already planning for January 2017. And the plans are exciting.

You will be able to enroll online in our Winter 2017 session in just a few days (Oct. 28), and you will find you have a choice of over a hundred classes, including several new ones such as Plein Air Painting, Spanish for Criminal Justice, and Beginning Modern Dance.

And our Annual Open House is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 123 at our Bundy campus. Like last year, we will offer a special 15 percent discount for anyone who enrolls in classes at the event.

This past January's Open House was such a success that we are looking to make the 2017 event bigger and better. The energy, enthusiasm and excitement of our 120 visitors and instructors were palpable. More than 20 instructors volunteered to be at tables to allow prospective students and others to ask questions and get a sense of the diverse mix of courses we offer. Ten of those instructors made excellent presentations on their classes and - in the case of our dance and fitness instructors - got our audience on their feet to learn some basic and fun movements.

So, please mark your calendar for Oct. 28 and Jan. 21. More details on our Winter Session and Open House will be forthcoming in Sound Bites, e-blasts and our social media outlets!

Meanwhile, we welcome your questions, comments or suggestions. You can reach us at or (310) 434-3400.

Happy Halloween!

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SMC Community Ed is always trying to take the pulse of our students and larger community to improve our entire program and to offer classes that you need and want - whether it is for personal enrichment or professional development.

Similarly, we want to improve our communication with you. To that end, we'd be most grateful if you would take just a couple of minutes to fill out this brief Survey on our monthly newsletter, Sound Bites. Your opinion matters to us. Thank you!

Celebrating Achievements, Seeking Improvements

Michelle King Michelle King, Director Career & Contract Ed.

Home Healthcare AideOur Home Healthcare Aide program - fulfilling Community Ed's commitment to provide training for well-paying, high-demand careers

Mosaic student at workResponding to our community, we are expanding our art class offerings

Pride in one's work can sometimes come from the most unexpected places.

Take, for instance, the "Six-Year Program Review" report that I recently completed.  Program Review is an ongoing self-evaluation/assessment that is required of all SMC departments.  It is intended as one component of an ongoing process to ensure instructional quality, vitality and responsiveness.

And although nobody particularly enjoys putting together said document, it's an excellent way to take stock of how one's program is preforming.  The "Program Review" process forces a thorough examination of accomplishments and it also reveals areas that need improving.

I'm happy to report that Community Education has had significant achievements since the last program review, six years ago. Most notable would be that during these tough economic times the program has managed to reposition itself in the very competitive not-for-credit education market.

More on that later, but here are a few statistics that quantify some of the department's accomplishments:

  • Individual registration for classes is at approx. 6,000 yearly, a 10% increase from 2014.
  • The class cancellation rate has dropped by 10% to 30% percent when compared to same semesters of previous years.
  • Over the years, we have increased the number and variety of classes and equally important, we actively work to be responsive to the community's needs and interests. For example, due to high demand from community members, we've expanded our art class offerings significantly.
  • We are offering more Professional Development classes and certificate programs, which aligns with a crucial part of our college's mission "to train regional residents for well-paying, high-demand careers".

During the last few years of economic turmoil many community colleges have had to shut-down and or significantly reduce their community education program.  But SMC has worked to ensure the long term viability of its Community Education department by leveraging the resources of the college while operating to meet the educational needs of the community.

An example of this strategy is encompassed in the ETPL program.  SMC's Office of Workforce & Economic Development via Community Education gained approval as a training provider as part of the California Employment Development Department's "Employee Training Provider List" (ETPL).  The operational infrastructure of the Community Education department, including its staff and marketing infrastructure, has served to help position SMC's Office of Workforce & Economic Development as a leader in providing career training in high-demand careers.

Since we started serving ETPL students in 2013, the Combined Annual Growth Rate of this sector of our program is an impressive 171 percent!

Some of the program's more popular career training courses is the Customer Service Academy - Hospitality, Home Healthcare Aide, Professional Paralegal Certification, SEO and Web Analytics Practitioner Certification, and Medical Administrative Assistant Training & Certification. These programs offer community members the opportunity to obtain the skills needed to pursue new career paths and or add skills to help propel them in their current careers.

And we plan to offer more such Professional Development courses and certificate programs, including World Class Manufacturing and Cisco Networking certification training.

We are fortunate that our program has a faithful customer base in the community with many long-time repeating students taking a cross-section of courses, including personal interest, health and fitness, entrepreneurship and professional development.

We plan to use our Program Review report as a jumping-off point to continue our efforts to improve the Community Education program and to serve our community better.

Warm regards,

Michelle King
Director of Career & Contract Education