CONCORD— At NHTI-Concord’s Community College (NHTI) approximately one in five students take an online class. When it became apparent that all of our learning would have to move completely online due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) faculty, support staff and administration became laser focused on how to move the rest of our students online. With less than two weeks’ notice, lots of communication, a steep learning curve for some, and a desire to see our students continue to succeed, NHTI has risen to the challenge and provided continued support academically for our students online.
Now, just after Spring break, students and professors are facing some of the most challenging times for learning they have ever encountered. Professor Paula DelBonis-Platt brought her entire Mindful: Introduction to Literature class into a Zoom meeting to meet author Cathy Eaton, and discuss her book, Fallen Flyboy. Melanie Martel, Faculty Advisor, worked with others to begin academic advising for students through Zoom as well. “I had a tear in my eye when I saw the smiles on the faces of my students through the online platform,” Martel said. Susan Posluszny, Academic and Career Advisor knew her students would still need career counseling so she created a video doing just that using screen-capturing software. Her students are finding her video helpful as they begin to look for work as they near the end of their academic careers at NHTI. Others are working with students in virtual meetings. One student, Matt Harrison, who is studying Design Studio, said to his professor, Liaquat Khan, “Conducting studio virtually is not quite the same, but I did get a lot from our meeting. I appreciate you finding a way to work within the constraints imposed by this pandemic.” Still others are using online simulation labs and interactive science labs to help keep the momentum going.
“Quite an amazing thing for me as an advisor,” said Dawn Higgins; as she worked with NHTI’s English for Speakers of Other Language students. Her encounters were surprising, “seeing my students in the natural environment of their own homes. I feel like this has been my main gift as I am stuck in my own home wondering about the world around me. My students teach me new things every single day, and because of them and FOR them, I will keep going.”
Professor Kathleen Curran teaches Human Service and Addiction Counseling classes at NHTI. Her students were working on an activity where the they were facilitating a counseling center in one of the university centers located in Italy that was suddenly closed. Using this information, they needed to address skill standards and with whom they would focus their work. The students were magnificent in their inventive ideas in helping students, parents, and peers. Then she noticed her students starting to struggle with all that was happening around them, and she began to see a need for her students to discuss their feelings and concerns and the Positivity Corner grew from there. “I wanted to create a supportive online environment for my students to simply connect for socialization and to share and gain some touching, fun, and amazing acts of kindness that they may have seen, performed themselves, or heard about,” Kathleen said. While this is just lifting off, she is already getting positive feedback from her students.
NHTI is nothing if not resilient and steadfast in its desire to continue successfully educating its students. Gretchen Mullin-Sawicki, NHTI President, called on all of the staff and faculty to meet the needs of all students head on. She wrote to the campus community, “I want to thank you for your courage which has manifest in your absolute commitment to learning, teaching and caring for each other. I have witnessed profound kindness, adaptability and creativity as we find solutions to address the new challenges that Covid-19 has created for us in how we keep healthy, how we do business and how we keep our college running. Your imagination, fortitude, flexibility and energy are truly admirable and absolutely needed as we navigate new hurdles now and ahead of us in this online working environment.”
About NHTI-Concord’s Community College:
NHTI is a dynamic public institution of higher learning providing accessible, rigorous education, serving students, businesses and the community by creating pathways for lifelong learning, career advancement and civic engagement NHTI―Concord’s Community College offers more than 90 academic programs to more than 4,600 students annually. Graduates can transfer to 4-year colleges and universities, or enter directly into the workforce. NHTI is a member of the Community College System of New Hampshire, and has been accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, a nongovernmental, nationally recognized accrediting agency, since 1969