Tuesday February 12, 2013

DAWSON RASPUZZI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- With the help of the community, Marie-Pierre Huguet has changed the look of adult education at Southwest Vermont Career Development Center.

The first-year assistant director for Adult Education is responsible for giving the menu of evening classes a complete makeover, including a 78-percent increase in classes offered. Included in that growth are six new categories of classes -- continued education, enrichment, hospitality, languages, professional, and professional development.

"I listened to what the community was telling us, I listened to what some of the Rotary members I talked to were telling me, I listened to the manufacturers, the HR people. Anyone that was willing to tell me what I should do differently," Huguet told the school board during a presentation in January.

With that information gathered from the community, Huguet used her background in curriculum development and got to work.

The result? Not only pages of new course offerings -- such as "Blueprint Reading" and "Quality in Manufacturing" classes recommended by area carbon composite businesses, and the culinary series "Taste of Vermont" recommended by gardeners and home cooks -- but also different ways students can access that education. For the first time, CDC this year is offering blended online and on-site courses.

"It gives the participants flexibility in the time when they learn the content (and) when they study and all that, but then they come to the classroom and they get the one-on-one and they get quality time with the instructor," Huguet said in an interview Monday. "Blended learning is really tomorrow's education. Whether we like it or not, whether we approve of online learning or not, it really is going to define the way we learn and we teach."

One of those blended courses is "Pharmacy Technician" -- which makes CDC the first technical center in the state to offer such a program. The 120-hour class was developed as a response to a small group of individuals who wanted training to become pharmacy technicians.

Also added to the array of adult education offerings are three-hour seminars and six-hour classes as alternatives to the traditional 15-hour courses.

Seminars may be taken individually -- for instance, a person can take the three-hour workshop "Guide to Apple's iCloud service," -- or they may take an entire series that will walk a person through using Apple products and applications. "Not everybody wants to learn everything about them, but they may want to take a few (seminars)," Huguet said. "So instead of having one 15-hour class, we have five three-hour workshops."

The interest in the shorter classes has been tremendous, Huguet said.

Last session about 135 adults took evening courses at CDC, and Huguet said 70 have already signed up for the upcoming, however, many classes do not begin until late in the month and more are expected to enroll. To find out more about the adult education program visit www.svcdc.org.

Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at draspuzzi@benningtonbanner.com or follow on Twitter @DawsonRaspuzzi