Montgomery County Community College High School Completion Program Earns National Honor

Blue Bell/Pottstown, PA — A Montgomery County Community College program designed to make sure struggling high school students do not slip through the cracks of the education system has earned a national honor.

The Gateway to College program at MCCC is one of only eight programs nationwide to receive the Excellence Award from the Gateway to College National Network. The Network includes more than 40 programs at community colleges throughout the country.

Through Gateway to College, students who have dropped out of high school or are significantly off track complete their high school diplomas at college-based programs such as the one at MCCC while simultaneously earning college credits toward a post-secondary degree or certificate.

Currently, the Gateway to College Program at MCCC serves 45 students from 18 school districts in Montgomery and surrounding counties. Established at MCCC in 2013, the program has help 83 students earn their high school diplomas and matriculate at MCCC.

To achieve the award, the MCCC program surpassed established benchmarks in all four categories including first-term grades, one-year persistence, two-year persistence and graduation rate, according to Gateway to College National Network President Emily Froimson.

“Your program is an exemplar for all of our partners and high school reengagement programs across the country,” Froimson wrote. “We are encouraged by your success and look to your program to be a model and a leader within our network.”

Keima Sheriff, director of the MCCC Gateway to College program, said the staff and students in the program were excited to receive the award.

“This award is a tribute to the caring, hard-working staff of the Montgomery County Community College Gateway to College Program, and the students who have worked so hard toward completing their high school diplomas,” Sheriff said. “Many of these students, for one reason or another, had nearly given up on completing high school, but through this program, they find an inner strength and confidence that they need to achieve their educational goals.”

About Montgomery County Community College
For more than 50 years, Montgomery County Community College has grown with the community to meet the evolving educational needs of Montgomery County. The College’s comprehensive curriculum includes more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as customized workforce training and certifications. Students enjoy the flexibility of learning at the College’s thriving campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, at the Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale, and online through a robust Virtual Campus.

As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, the institution is positioned at the vanguard of national efforts to increase completion, improve learning outcomes, and remove barriers to access for students. The College is also recognized regionally and nationally for its sustainability leadership, work with military veterans, community service and service learning opportunities, and use of classroom technology. For more information, visit http://www.mc3.edu.

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MCCC GED Program Reaches Milestone Of 1,000 Graduates

GED 2016 Group: Sixty-one students graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s GED program on June 15, 2016. Included in this class is the program’s 1,000th graduate.  Photo by Sandi Yanisko

GED 2016 Group: Sixty-one students graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s GED program on June 15, 2016. Included in this class is the program’s 1,000th graduate. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Pottstown, PA — Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) General Education Diploma (GED) program reached a milestone during its annual graduation ceremony on June 15. Among the 61 individuals who earned their diplomas was the program’s 1,000th graduate.

Introduced in 2006, MCCC’s six-week GED program is among the most accelerated in the state. Students spend one week of intensive study in each GED subject—reading and language arts, science, social studies and math—then they take the respective test. The program alternates between day and evening classes every six weeks to accommodate as many students as possible.

The GED program and tests are free to Montgomery County residents, thanks to generous sponsorship from Montco Works, Montgomery County’s Workforce Investment Board. The program costs $100 for out-of-county students.

At least 20 of this year’s graduates are already enrolled in credit courses at MCCC. Graduate speaker Timothy Ream, of Schwenksville, is one of them.

“In the last nine months, I have accomplished more than I did in nine years,” Ream told the audience of graduates, family and friends during his remarks. “I’m currently taking summer classes at Montco, and I have a 3.5 GPA. I know it’s not a 4.0, but it’s better than the 0.6 GPA I left high school with.”

Following his emotion-filled speech, Ream surprised GED Program Coordinator Ed Sasek by presenting him with a plaque on behalf of the graduates.

“This man has dedicated his whole life to adult education,” shared Ream.

MCCC Assistant Professor of Geography Samuel Wallace provided the keynote address, during which he shared the story of his father, who earned his GED after surviving polio.

“My father never attended a year of school, not uncommon in a 1940s Kansas dustbowl,” he said. “After surviving polio, he realized he would never again make money with his legs and back. He got a GED and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in science and engineering.”

Wallace shared that his father wrote the first set of guidelines for federal highway maintenance.

“Your career is not the one you thought you would have when you were 16. A GED is one way to get a second strike at the ball. It’s your jumpstart,” he said.

Janet Rojas, youth research and performance coordinator for Montco Works, presented the graduates with their diplomas. She was joined by Dr. David DiMattio, vice president of the West Campus; Nicole Henderson, dean of student affairs; and Peggy Schmidt, chair of the Workforce Investment Board Youth Council.

In her closing remarks, Schmidt drew applause with a reference to ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” television show.

“You, tonight, have in your hands your own Mirrorball Trophy,” said Schmidt. “You are on the steps of an exciting future. So get out and DANCE!”

To learn more about the GED program or GED testing services, visit http://www.mc3.edu/adm-fin-aid/ged.

45 Graduates Complete MCCC’s Accelerated GED Program

Pottstown, Pa.— Forty-five students earned their General Education Diplomas (GED) during Montgomery County Community College’s annual graduation ceremony on June 5 at the West Campus in Pottstown.

The graduates were part of MCCC’s rigorous five-week program that is among the most accelerated in the state. According to GED Program Coordinator/Instructor Raymond Ricketts, 860 students have completed the program since its inception in 2006–an 84 percent graduation rate.

The Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) funds the program, which is free to Montgomery County residents. The fee for out-of-county students is $100 and includes the course and GED exam.

John Vestri, vice president of operations and finance for Video Ray in Pottstown, provided the keynote address. He commended graduates for taking ownership of their education, and encouraged them to take advantage of all future educational opportunities that arise.

“Every single you chance you have to improve yourself through education, please take advantage of it. It will pay off in some way in the long run,” said Vestri. He added that there is “no such thing as a traditional education,” sharing “we all pursue what works for us; everyone is on some non-traditional path.”

Providing the student address, graduate Jamie Gehman, Lower Pottsgrove, said the program “allowed me to focus on my problem area—math—and pass the GED with flying colors.”

Gehman described how it became more and more difficult to return to school as time passed. However, as her youngest of four children started kindergarten this year, she realized it was time to continue her own education as well.

“It’s never too late to give yourself or your loved ones a brighter future through education,” she shared.

Gehman recently completed her first semester at the College, during which she earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA). She ultimately hopes to work with children who have learning challenges and brain trauma.

Marisol Lezcano, executive director of the Montgomery County WIB and deputy director of commerce, presented the graduates with their diplomas, and Peggy Schmidt, chair, WIB Youth Council, provided closing remarks.

“I’m sure, as you have gone through this journey, people told you that you couldn’t do it. But your hard work paid off,”  she said, just before asking attendees to join her in reciting the lyrics to “High Hopes.”

To learn more about the GED program or GED testing services, visit http://www.mc3.edu/adm-fin-aid/ged.

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