From starjournalnow.com: “Nicolet College’s early childhood education program sees enrollment surge” — Nicolet College’s early childhood education program has enjoyed an enrollment boom in recent years thanks, in part, to greater opportunity for students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a desire by child care providers to have a more highly skilled workforce.

That’s according to Diana Rickert, early childhood education instructor at Nicolet, who recently gave a presentation to the Nicolet College Board of Trustees about program developments.

“Students like what Nicolet has to offer,” Rickert said. “They see the benefits of attending Nicolet on a number of fronts and that’s what’s driving the enrollment increase.”

Currently, 52 students are in the program and that number is expected to nudge higher in coming weeks as new applicants work their way through the enrollment process in order to begin classes at the start of the spring semester in January.

One of the biggest drivers of this trend is the close partnership Nicolet has developed with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Thanks to a credit transfer agreement between the two institutions, students can complete roughly the first two years of their bachelor’s degree at Nicolet and then transfer to UW-Stevens Point to complete the degree.

“Students are realizing that they can save thousands of dollars by starting at Nicolet,” she said. “That’s because of Nicolet’s affordable tuition and because they can live at home, which means they don’t have to pay room and board. Combined, this results in a very significant cost savings.”

With bachelor’s degree in hand, graduates are then eligible to receive their Wisconsin teaching license and teach pre-kindergarten through third grade in a public school system.

An added advantage is the increased level of hands-on, practical experience students get in the associate degree program. Nicolet’s early childhood education program has an advisory committee made up of teaching professionals that offers guidance for program development.

“When they look at rèsumès to fill teaching positions, I’ve heard time and again that applicants who first earn an associate degree rise to the top of the pile,” Rickert said. “The added level of hands-on teaching experience they get with an associate degree on top of what they get with a bachelor’s degree is highly valued by school districts.”

Another factor contributing to the enrollment increase is the state of Wisconsin’s YoungStar program. Launched in 2011, YoungStar ranks licensed child care providers on a scale of one to five, with five being the best rating. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families then make the ratings public to help parents make child care decisions.

“More than a third of the possible points a program can earn are based upon the educational qualifications of the staff,” Rickert said. “Because of this, we are seeing more people who are currently working in child care enrolling in Nicolet classes. They are learning additional skills that ultimately benefit the children they teach and care for, and also help their employer receive a higher YoungStar rating.”

In recent years, Nicolet has also added a high degree of flexibility to the program, offering classes in the evening, on weekends, over an interactive television network, in an accelerated format, and on-site in the Lac du Flambeau tribal community.

“Everybody’s life situation is different,” Rickert explained. “By expanding the options students have to take classes, we’re making it easier for students to fit college into what are already busy lives.”

From morainepark.edu: “Eilertson, Inc. works with Moraine Park” — Moraine Park Technical College’s Electrical Power Distribution (EPD) program is preparing its Beaver Dam campus training site for the next phase of substation construction. The program’s new Electrical Substation Certificate allows students to enhance their skills by learning how to inspect and maintain electrical substations. Thanks to a donation of labor, material and large equipment from Fond du Lac-based company Eilertson, Inc., students receiving the certificate will be able to get the hands-on experience they need for success in the field.
Eilertson, Inc. specializes in the installation of below-grade materials in electrical substations, from low-clearance drilling to finish graveling. At Moraine Park’s Beaver Dam campus, Eilertson, Inc. drilled large holes for the pier foundations with a 80,000-pound, high-pressure digging machine capable of boring through rock and all soil types.
“This was a real-life opportunity for the substation students to learn and participate in the below-grade construction of a substation,” said Mark Theyerl, Moraine Park EPD instructor. “The students learned how to tie reinforcement bar, lay out the form for the pier, pour the concrete pier and set anchor bolts. We are very grateful for the generosity of Eilertson, Inc. to the College.”
For more information on Moraine Park’s EPD program and new Substation Certificate, visit http://www.morainepark.edu/programs.

From wauwatosanow.com: “MATC instructor offers to complete park pillars as class assignment” — A masonry instructor has offered up the services of his class to construct pillars to mark the 70th Street entrance to Hart Park.

The Milwaukee Area Technical College students would provide labor and the instructor the oversight to complete a design component of the park’s master plan. However, purchasing the materials and the cost of delivering them to the park would fall to the city.

“We haven’t budgeted for materials in 2012,” Ken Walbrant, Parks and Forestry superintendent said Tuesday.

As a capital project, it should go to the city’s Engineering Department for consideration and to be priced out. If there’s interest, engineers likely would design the plans for the class to follow, Walbrant said.

The project would give masonry students an opportunity to work with limestone, Parks Board member George Haas said.

While it’s a generous service donation, it would still end up costing the city, parks officials said.

“I really think we should pursue this, but pursue it cautiously,” board member Steve Berg said.

Several of the board members weren’t serving in 2007 when the park’s master plan was created. With so many projects in the works – such as the playground – or on the horizon – the skate park, teen area and picnic pavilion, for instance – it’s time to review the plan again early next year, parks officials said.

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