The 2017 Phillip B. Lindy Award for Excellence in K-16 Partnerships – A Collaborative Dual Enrollment Program in Office Management

Posted by on August 31, 2017

By Caitlin Fritz

At our K-16 Summer Institute, PHENND had the privilege of honoring Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) and Eastern Center for Arts and Technology (a career and technical high school) the third annual Phillip B. Lindy Award for Excellence in K-16 Partnerships. This award pays tribute to the legacy of Phil Lindy, and aims to recognize collaborative K-16 Partnerships. The 2017 Lindy Award was presented to the MCCC-Eastern Office Management Dual Enrollment Program.

Beginning in the summer of 2013, MCCC and Eastern worked together to lay the ground work for an office management dual enrollment program. Eastern is a secondary career and technical education school that serves eleventh and twelfth graders from nine school districts in eastern Montgomery County. The dual enrollment program allows students to take up to nine dual enrollment college credits while at Eastern. In eleventh grade, students receive an introduction to business software while also diving deeper into the applications of Microsoft Word. In twelfth grade, students explore the soft skills needed in modern business management, such as phone etiquette, or how to set up a webinar. Students can then matriculate to MCCC and complete a 30 credit Office Management Certification by taking courses in Microsoft Excel, desktop publishing, and others. In addition, students must complete an internship. Students then have the option to continue in a Management A.A.S. degree program followed by a bachelors program in Leadership from Cabrini University, taught through MCCC’s University Center on the community college’s Blue Bell campus.

What impressed the Lindy Award Review Committee was how intentional the partnership was from the very beginning. MCCC and Eastern identified office management as a high priority occupation in the region with a projected job growth of 15-20% over the next five years, yet none of the vocational/technical schools in the county offer programs geared toward this job field. Recognizing this, MCCC and Eastern collaborated on developing a program that would address this gap in career education in the county. The curriculum was designed to align to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s framework for General Office Occupations and Clerical Services. Guided pathways were then mapped so that students could maximize the number of credits they can obtain at Eastern that would transfer to MCCC. Eastern students also have opportunities to earn industry certifications.

MCCC and Eastern were also very intentional in the development of the structure of their collaboration. “It is very symbiotic,” said Theresa Sullivan, Assistant Professor of Office Management at MCCC. There are regularly scheduled meetings between MCCC’s Office Management Coordinator and Eastern’s Office Management teacher. Each also sit on the respective Advisory Councils for their partner schools. In addition, each share assessment materials and rubrics, learning materials and textbooks, and even a learning management system (in this case Blackboard).

The mission of the partnership is ultimately to increase the success of students at both Eastern and MCCC. “We focus on small wins, building the students confidence and self-efficacy along the way,” said Theresa Sullivan. The guided pathways allow students to earn tangible certifications along a journey towards an Associates and Bachelors degrees. There are also many opportunities for the current Eastern students to interact with the community college students, allowing the Eastern students to “see ones-self” as a college student. Current MCCC students return to Eastern as guest speakers in many of the classes and Eastern students are invited to campuses throughout the year, including for MCCC’s Technology Conference, a Dual Enrollment Summit, and a Community Day.

Currently Eastern has graduated three cohorts of students who have matriculated to MCCC. We look forward to following the success of these students and to supporting the ongoing partnership. As part of the Lindy Award, MCCC and Eastern will receive $1,000, and they plan on using the award to fund scholarships for deserving Eastern students attending MCCC.

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