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The 2016 class valedictorian said she looked forward to the future — a future that didn’t always look as bright. Montgomery’s life, and her outlook, changed for the better after she arrived at Camelot Education Academy three years ago.

“I’m really proud of myself,” said the 18-year-old South Philadelphia graduate who plans to earn degrees in criminal justice from Community College of Philadelphia and Central Penn College in Harrisburg en route to becoming a homicide detective. “It was a challenge. If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere. It was a challenge but I fought through it.”

Two years ago, in an effort to lose weight, Bill McDowell began taking daily lunchtime strolls around the indoor walking path on the second floor of the Mint Building — one of Community College of Philadelphia’s many wellness activities which promote a culture of fitness.
Fifty pounds and five waist sizes later, McDowell understands the power of a fit-friendly work environment.
“I was surprised quite a bit at the results,” said McDowell, an employee in the registration office on the Main Campus. “I definitely enjoy it, especially in the winter when the weather is bad. There’s no excuse not to do it.”
The half-mile walking path, along with many other campus health initiatives, have earned the College national recognition as a gold-level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association for the fourth consecutive year. The honor acknowledges the College’s “Your Wellness Matters” initiative, which encourages and places special focus on weight management, physical activity and smoking cessation to help employees comply with a smoke-free campus in January.
Additionally, the College has implemented incentives for employees for wellness points earned. All employees will receive a booklet explaining when and how they can accrue points for over $100 in prizes.
For McDowell, the walking path served as his road to wellness. During the winter, he walked four to six loops on the path depending on how much time he had. He also gave up processed foods, but walking the path was the only exercise he did. Not only did it pay off in pounds lost, but in relationships gained.
“I consider it part of the many benefits the College offers to their employees,” McDowell said. “You get to walk through the various buildings and see what’s going on at the College and see your colleagues that you otherwise might not get to see, which makes it nice if you haven’t seen anyone for a while.”

As the school year winds down for many across the Delaware Valley, one Philadelphia charter school is celebrating the success of a new program started this year.

Soon, some students will be graduating high school and getting their associate’s degree at the same time.

It’s a new partnership between MaST Community Charter School and the Community College of Philadelphia.

This year, a small group of sophomores was bused to CCP to take college classes during the school day.

It is double the workload, but the students know it will pay off in more ways than one.

The group is looking forward to a well-deserved summer break.

When they graduate from MaST Community Charter School in 2018, they will have also earned enough credits to leave with an Associate’s degree in Business from the Community College of Philadelphia.

Copyright: City of Philadelphia. Photo by Samantha Madera

Community College of Philadelphia welcomed a very special guest to its 2016 Respiratory Care Technology Program Completion Ceremony last week, thanks in part to a unique relationship cultivated between a student and a politician, nurtured over frequently-served meals, heartfelt chats and words of encouragement.

Despite his hectic schedule, Mayor Jim Kenney found time to stop by the College and speak to the students and their families. He attended at the invitation of graduate Jamie Sliker, who first met the mayor when he was a city councilman and she was a server at a restaurant in Old City, where Kenney is a regular. The two have been on friendly terms ever since, but even Sliker wasn’t sure if he would accept her graduation invitation– so she didn’t invite him.

“He was kind of offended that I didn’t invite him,” said Sliker, who still works at the restaurant and, for now, serves the Mayor when he comes in. “When graduation came up, he said he was going to come and he was going to say something. I was like, ‘Okay.’”

The 21 graduates, who represented all ages and stages in their professional lives, listened as Kenney thanked them for their persistence and praised the College for establishing a program that has distinguished itself over time. Since 1963, the program has graduated 766 students and currently enjoys a 100 percent pass rate at the Certified Respiratory Therapist level, compared to a national pass rate of 73 percent. Students must pass all level Board exams offered through the National Board for Respiratory Care before obtaining a professional license to practice as a respiratory therapist in Pennsylvania.

Mayor Kenney’s praise was rooted in his deep appreciation for their skills, and stemmed from witnessing first-hand the power of respiratory professionals to save lives.

The mayor shared that his 81-year-old father, James, a retired firefighter, was recently hospitalized for what was thought to be a routine procedure, but wound up in intensive care because of fluid buildup in his lungs. “We thought we were going to lose him,” he said.

Mayor Kenney marveled at how the respiratory therapists, along with the doctors and nurses, assisted his father with his breathing exercises, and eventually got him out of ICU and out of the hospital. “He’s on oxygen, which he hates, “the mayor reported, “but the fact that he’s stubborn means he’s getting better.”

The mayor reiterated to the graduates the importance of choosing careers to improve their lives and the wellbeing of the city.

“The fact that you’re entering the profession is good for you because it’s a longstanding career that makes you good money,” he said, “but it’s critical that you’re part of our medical community because it’s what keeps our city’s economy strong.”

More than 110 Philadelphia high school students visited the College in April to participate in Big Bang STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) Career Day. Students from Kensington High School for Creative and Performing Arts; the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts; Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice; Universal Audenreid Charter High School;, Kensington Urban; MaST Community Charter School; Franklin Learning Center; First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School  and Kensington Health Sciences Academy spent their afternoon exploring Community College of Philadelphia’s STEM programs, and learning all about the various career paths available to them. For Muhammad Halter, a junior at Kensington Health Sciences, this was his first visit to a college campus. “I wanted to come here, see a community college, and see where I could go,” he said. High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors also enjoyed interactive activities such as “BYOD” Bring Your Own Device, which allowed them to use cell phones and tablets to participate in live polls. They also visited classrooms where they participated in delicious experiments such as learning to make chocolate that melts in your mouth.

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Community College of Philadelphia introduced plans this week to develop a residential tower for international students on the perimeter of its main campus.

The housing project is expected to provide a full campus experience for students, shifting away from the normal routine of students attending classes but commuting back and forth from home.

“The 15th and Hamilton Project symbolically marks the college’s commitment to a bold, new direction as student engagement and experiences become the hallmark of our operations,” said Linda Wallace, director of communications. She called the move an “imperative in today’s global economy.”

The area at 15th and Hamilton streets may become “home sweet home” to the hundreds of international students the Community College of Philadelphia hopes to enroll in the near future.

Come 2018, the 1.7-acre space, now a garage and industrial building, will boast an 11-story double tower residential complex, just a block away from the college’s main campus on Spring Garden Street.

Community College of Philadelphia plans a pair of new residential towers beside its Spring Garden Street campus to accommodate a hoped-for influx of high-achieving - and higher-paying - international students.

The two-year public college has selected Wayne-based Radnor Property Group to develop the roughly 500-unit, 11-story complex at 15th and Hamilton Streets, with plans for a mix of student and nonstudent housing.

CCP joins a small but growing list of community colleges nationwide that are looking abroad for an antidote to sinking enrollments. Key to their plans are on- and near-campus housing for the newcomers, a shift for what historically have been commuter schools.

More than 100 thoughtleaders from across the Philadelphia region gathered last month for a workforce forum at Community College of Philadelphia. The forum was sponsored by Roadmap for Growth, a multiyear initiative of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The panel members, comprised of some of the city’s most recognized educators and business executives, shared their agendas to promote economic growth and job creation — actionable ideas that Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration can work on to bring its vision of growth into fruition.

Community College of Philadelphia’s president, Donald Guy Generals, proposed an idea that he has woven into the fabric of the College’s administration. “Facilitating relationships between the business community and the educational sector are key. For the College to maintain its rightful place as a premier institution of higher education, it must strengthen its traditional focus while embracing an expanded mission put forth by new realities. An important part of the mission is taking a primary role in workforce development, readiness and economic innovation.”

The idea was met with a hearty round of applause by community stakeholders in attendance — the politicians, educators, business and nonprofit leaders, and activists — all with a shared mission to work together to connect young people to careers. Such partnerships not only help align the needs of industries seeking skilled and trained employees, but they strengthen the pipeline of graduates to satisfy workforce demands.

In addition to Dr. Generals, panel members included Dr. William T. Hite, superintendent, School District of Philadelphia; Nicole Anderson, president, AT&T Foundation, and associate vice president of social innovation, AT&T; and Robert M. Poliseno, regional executive officer, Mid-Atlantic Region, Chubb, a global property and casualty insurer. Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, president and CEO, Citizens Bank of PA/NJ/DE/NY, also delivered remarks.

During the dialogue, panelists addressed changes in the workforce landscape. Poliseno equated the approaching retirement of baby boomers in the insurance industry to a “silver tsunami;” noting that the city’s future workforce skews younger, very often requires more training and education, and is more racially and culturally diverse.

Otis Hackney, Philadelphia’s chief education officer, pointed out that in a city with one of the highest poverty rates, the challenge is to identify how to balance the needs of the workforce while addressing issues such as high school completion rates that fall below the national average, academic proficiency and family stability. Additionally, the city must determine a process in which businesses and community colleges can work together to expand job opportunities for young people.

One of those businesses, Starbucks, has already created such pathways through the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, a coalition of leading U.S.-based employers; it aims to provide youth who face systemic barriers to jobs and education with internships, along with part-time and full-time jobs. Recently, Starbucks partnered with Community College of Philadelphia for a job fair that drew more than 200 invited job seekers. Starbucks interviewed applicants for 150 openings on the spot.

Dr. Generals has frequently engaged in conversations with community and business leaders about ways the College can best connect with businesses to produce an educated and skilled workforce. His overriding conclusion? “We need to be more comprehensive and more organic in everything we do,” he said.

Some of the ideas highlighted included:

  • Supporting a more holistic approach to education through a community schools model
  • Offering more high school internships so students can learn what having a job entails
  • Facilitating a more substantial dialogue between business executives and higher education leaders to better serve evolving workforce needs
  • Making Philadelphia a destination for educators and teachers potentially through incentive programs
  • Exposing students to potential careers — especially insurance, finance and accounting — at an early age
  • Using technology to scale the impact of education at a reduced cost

The gap between workforce development and placement must be closed, Dr. Generals said. “We need to have real-time, right-now job opportunities for our students,” he said. “We can train them and get them ready, but we need to know jobs are there today to have a more effective system of workforce innovation.”