In April of 2021, the Southeast Community College Learning Center in Hebron will celebrate three years.
The former Thayer Central primary school — SCC took full ownership in July — underwent a complete remodel with new drywall and paint, and carpet installed over the tile floors.
“We added a lot of technology in each room,” coordinator Crystal Fangmeier, who came on three months before the learning center opened, said. She likes her job and providing opportunities for students. “I’m always happy to hear what people want as far as classes and programs. Our president, Paul Illich, is very invested in the learning centers.” The college now has centers in six cities, Hebron included.
Southeast Community College closed in March because of Covid-19. The disease wasn’t kind to higher education, and many students didn’t like virtual learning. In July, some in-person classes started up again.
Covid-19 also changed the center’s Leisure Learning classes and other non-credit courses, forcing students to learn via Zoom, a virtual communication software.
They were receptive, Fangmeier said.
At the time of the renovation, a classroom in the back of the building was left unfinished, and has since been remodeled for certified nursing assistant classes, the precursor for students pursuing licensed practical or registered nursing.
About 15 students interested in being certified as nursing assistants will start classes in October. Young people from Thayer Central, Deshler and Shickley participated over the summer.
“Thayer County Health Services has done a lot of promoting of the program, and is providing opportunities for nursing exploration,” Fangmeier said.
Blue Valley Nursing Home also offers nursing students observation opportunities.
“We also offer continuing education classes for nursing professionals,” Fangmeier said. “They can come into the learning center and virtually link to the instructor in Lincoln.”
One successful, but perhaps not so well known feature of the center is dual credit classes for high school juniors and seniors. Students are responsible for half the tuition. The college picks up the other half.
Another dual credit program is the Nebraska Career Academy, which allows juniors and seniors to explore career fields, such as graphic arts, nursing, agriculture and nutrition. In the career academy program, the college pays for half of the tuition and some high schools pay the other half, but parents should check with individual schools.
Many of the credits will transfer to a higher learning institution.
“My advice I always tell students is if they’re going to take dual credit, they should know where their end school will be, like UNL or UNK to see if it works,” Fangmeier said. Typically, high school guidance counselors can answer questions about dual credit courses.
Local teachers must meet the criteria to host a dual credit class. For example, Deb Bulin at Thayer Central showed her mathematics curriculum to SCC and it was approved.
The center has also been an outlet for online babysitting classes that went well, Fangmeier said. Students, ages 10 to 14, completed the course at their own pace.
In the near future, the center will offer cooking classes and French and Ukulele lessons online. Virtual learning has opened up opportunities for the center.
“I couldn’t offer French or Spanish here because I might not get that many people, but I can have them take it online,” Fangmeier said. “People who don’t feel comfortable doing Zoom at home can come here and we will set them up.”
She is currently working on the possibility of offering Driver’s Ed.
“There is such a need for that in our community,” she said.
For more information on what the learning center has to offer, email Fangmeier at CFangmeier@southeast.edu.