The Clark County Community Education Program will celebrate its 10th anniversary of service on July 1.
Under the direction of Cora Heffner, the program, which is jointly funded by Clark County Public Schools, the Winchester and Clark County governments and state grants, has come a long way since 2001.
In its first year, the program offered 12 enrichment classes such as painting, computer basics and horticulture, but it also offered seminars on raising happy, healthy children, wellness programs and health fairs.
Community Education’s original vision was to address community concerns with public participation, and it hasn’t wavered from that vision.
Over the past 10 years, Community Education instituted programs to address community issues such as:
— Character in Action: an eight-week program in which juvenile offenders had to go through character education classes taught by local pastor Ben Rake and then Police Chief Marty Jackson. Of the 47 juveniles who went thorough the initial program, none became repeat offenders and returned to the juvenile justice system.
— Service Learning: a program that provides mini-grants for teaches to do service projects tied to their curriculum for students. In its first year, five middle school classes were involved. Last year more than 623 students in five public and one private school participated in the program.
— Schools to Careers: a program that provides mini-grants to teachers for career development projects.
— Match: a program that provided tutoring for ninth-grade students who had fallen behind in their studies.
— Partners in Education: a program that seeks to enhance the quality of instructional services provided to students through the use of school volunteers and business partners.
Those types of programs are not the first thing that come to mind when people hear the words Community Education. It’s usually the enrichment classes. But Heffner said that’s all right because they soon see Community Education is much more.
“It’s OK that people think painting and computer classes when they think of Community Ed. I wanted that when we first started up because it made us visible. And it’s still important because that is what people see if they are considering moving here or if they are thinking about whether to stay or leave. It adds to the quality of life in the community,” Heffner said. “But we also do other important things as well, like helping people get jobs through things like our state registered nursing classes. We collaborate with other entities to provide programs that community members ask for and need, which also add to the quality of life in the community.”
The efforts of Heffner and administrative assistant Lisa Stephens and the program’s many volunteers have been recognized statewide and nationally. Clark County was recently recognized as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise because of the work of Clark County Community Education, and the Partners in Education program was honored by the United Way of the Bluegrass with its Live United Award for Excellence in Education.
Heffner said her goal for the program in the future was to continue to do whatever it is the community needs.
“We want to continue solving community problems with community participation. Whatever that means to our community on any given day or year, that is what we’re here for,” said Heffner. “We also have goals to increase the connection between the schools and school programs and business and industry. And we want to continue to support Pre-K through 12th grade and increase public awareness. We want more input. We want people to tell us what they want in terms of classes, but also in terms of any other problems in the community that we can help with.”
Contact Bob Flynn at email@example.com.