BENNINGTON -- Just two weeks into her new job, Marie-Pierre Huguet has big plans for the adult education program at Southwest Vermont Career Development Center.
Carrying forward work begun by Robert Mazur, who retires this month, Huguet will work to design a new licensed nursing assistant (LNA) certification program and a course for teachers to earn credits toward re-certification.
She is also bringing her own ideas from years of experience with course development at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and other colleges to the technical center, such as blended courses that allow participants that require less time in the classroom.
"They would come to the class and have hands-on experiences or ask questions of the instructor and then go home and when they have the time ... view a video or learn the content itself," Huguet said.
Huguet said blended courses are "the trend" in education and will offer flexibility to adults interested in furthering their education but have busy work and family schedules.
Huguet, who was born in France, first came to Vermont during college when she fell in love with the area and never left. She has lived in North Bennington for the past 20-plus years, although has always worked out of state. Last year Huguet did program development at University of Connecticut, but said she hated being away from Vermont and swore the next position she took would be in the Green Mountain State.
"The CDC position was posted and it was exactly what I was looking for," Huguet said.
In addition to the opportunity being in the state she loves, Huguet was also excited to return to a position in continuing education, which was the first type of job she had before moving to the United States.
"For me it's almost like going full circle," she said. "I strongly believe in education, but not necessarily college. In other words, some people are ready to go to college ... but not everybody wants to do that and there's nothing wrong with it. I strongly believe you can get better at everything you do and the variety of courses that are offered here are just unbelievable."
Through the fall, Huguet's priority will to familiarize herself with the CDC adult education programs as well as the people and businesses in the area.
Even though the CDC was so close to home, Huguet admitted she was not very familiar with all the adult education program had to offer until recently. Now, Huguet is spending much of her time meeting business leaders and people in the community to learn what they would like to see from the program and also advertise the hundreds of online and face-to-face classes CDC offers.
She will also focus on beginning programs for nursing and teacher recertification -- two areas that had already been identified prior to Huguet as places the CDC could do more.
The LNA program will be in collaboration with area health providers, the local workforce development partnership and the state. Mazur said the proposed program is the result of speaking with employers and working with a workforce development group that identified a need for more LNAs in the area.
The teaching program will be designed like one the CDC used to offer many years ago and attracted up to 400 teachers each year. Teachers must be recertified every seven years, which among other things requires completing professional development. One option teachers have to receive those professional development credits is completing a class like the one the class CDC is designing.
"Currently we don't really have something specific in Bennington at the CDC that is focused on that," Huguet said.
The adult education program is also piloting a series of one-night skill-development workshops in graphic design this fall. "That's a format we're experimenting with instead of an eight-week course ... it gives you more flexibility of what you may want to do. Instead of signing up for an entire class, you can sign up for units in a way, standalone workshops," Huguet said.
While Huguet has some ideas to improve adult education offerings at the CDC already, she also hopes to get more ideas from the community and businesses.
"I would love to know what kind of courses people are looking for," Huguet said. "Call us, email us, let us know what you're interested in as an individual, as a business. We're always open to new ideas and we always try to have new courses every semester."
For more information on the adult education program, visit www.svcdc.org.
Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at email@example.com or on Twitter @DawsonRaspuzzi