The Kaskaskia College Salem Education Center has grown into a “one-stop shop” for both students and community members, according to Salem Center Director Janice Eischens.
Built based upon Kaskaskia College’s philosophy of “bringing education to the times and places convenient to the learner,” the Center has expanded both in size and in services offered. The current location at 1475 W. Whittaker has five classrooms, all equipped with smart room technology, a state-of-the-art computer lab, a tutoring room, a wet (science) lab, an industrial/health occupation lab, and a conference room. Its open computer lab is in constant use from the time the doors open until closing with both students and individuals from the community coming in to access free computer time. The conference room and the multipurpose room, which can be opened up to accommodate up to 50 people, has become a favorite for community groups and organizations to hold their meetings.
In addition, several start-up businesses call the Center home, under the Small Business Incubator Program, which allows for some area startups to lease offices at the Education Centers for a period of up to three years, while the staff at the Center make themselves available for questions and are eager to help in any way they can.
Along with the expansion of the Salem Center and the services it offer to the community, recent changes have allowed for an expansion of the Center’s educational opportunities it offers to students. Under an agreement signed earlier this year, Kaskaskia College is now able to offer full degree programs at each of its Education Centers, where before only half of the credit hours needed for a degree could be earned off campus. With the advent of online classes, in which students need only computer and internet access to attend classes, and distance learning classes through the College’s network of distance learning classrooms, Salem, as well as other Education Centers, can now offer much more programming than what was available when every class meant a rigid schedule of face-to-face class meetings.
Perhaps the hallmark for this at the Salem Center is the new degree offered in Paramedicine, which graduated its first class in the spring. Lucinda Spencer, Coordinator for the Paramedicine program, has her office in the Salem Center, from which she coordinates Paramedicine classes, including CPR classes, at the Salem Center as well as other Education Centers and the Main and Vandalia campuses.
Utilizing its distance learning classroom, the Salem Center can make available classes that are taught at any of the campuses or other extension centers. This is not only convenient for the students who do not have to travel to attend a class; it allows for a few students from several different locations to use the technology to make a class viable.
The Salem Center is also part of the initiative called Weekend College, in which students who work full time can take classes that meet on Friday evenings and Saturdays and Sundays, breaking the mold of classes that are held mornings and afternoons through the week. This allows students with inflexible schedules to also attend classes at KC.
In response to the College’s Community Engagement and Advisory Board meetings, Kaskaskia College is seeking to fill the needs of the communities it serves by expanding courses at the Education Centers. For the Salem Center, an example of this is the Keyboarding classes offered in the fall.
Another service offered at the Salem Center is Community Education classes. These credit and non-credit classes cover topics of interest from getting the most use from an iPad or iPhone, to basic and intermediate computer classes, to hobbies such as writing your life’s story to genealogy and pet massage. As a service to the senior citizens of the area, these classes are offered for free or a reduced amount to persons 60 years of age or over.
As part of its “One-stop” philosophy, the Salem Center also acts as a bus stop for the South Central Transit line.
Utilizing the SCT, students can travel to and from the Salem center from locations such as Centralia, including KC’s main campus, for a few dollars per trip.
For more information on the SCT, please visit their website at www.southcentraltransit.org
The Salem Education Center is a growing, vibrant part of Kaskaskia College’s educational network, and the staff looks forward to serving the ever expanding educational and community needs of the Salem and Marion County area.
For more information on the Salem Center, please call the Center at 618-548-9001 or email the Director, Janice Eischens, at firstname.lastname@example.org