Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Nontraditional learning center growing

New site, classes for adults added

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — As the Urban Learning Center starts its fourth year, it will do so with its first full-time staff members, a new site in Newport and six new classes.

        “Most of our students are adults who've had a break in their education,” said Meg Winchell, the Urban Learning Center's new executive director. “What many of them need is someone to tell them, "You can do it. You can be successful.'”

  • New students: Registration is 6-8 p.m. Aug. 14 at John G. Carlisle Elementary School in Covington or 6-8 p.m. Aug. 15 at Newport Middle School.
  • Orientation: All new students are required to attend orientation at 6:15 p.m. on the night they register.
  • Fall classes: Begin Aug. 20 and run through Dec. 15.
  • Cost: Courses cost $10 each.
  • Information: (859) 491-2220.
        Ms. Winchell, former director of admissions for Northern Kentucky University, and Deborah Habermehl, the center's new academic adviser and counselor, will help make nontraditional students' transition to college easier.

        “The students who are enrolling in classes will receive a lot more support in terms of academic advising, career counseling and obtaining financial aid,” Ms. Winchell said.

        The hiring of Ms. Winchell and Ms. Habermehl, as well as secretarial support and help with instruction costs, will be covered with a two-year, $200,000 federal grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-secondary Education.

        Formed in January 1998 as a partnership among NKU, Thomas More College, Northern Kentucky Technical College, Covington Independent Schools, Forward Quest and the Covington Community Center, the Urban Learning Center tries to reach inner-city residents who might feel intimidated by the idea of attending a large campus or returning to school after many years.

        The Urban Learning Center tries to remove those barriers by providing small, low-cost classes at convenient times and locations in a supportive environment, Ms. Winchell said. Free on-site child care and textbooks, tutoring and academic, financial and career counseling are available. Most classes are offered in evenings or on weekends.

        In another effort to reach more economically disadvantaged inner-city students this fall, the Urban Learning Center is offering a new site at Newport Middle School. That location will offer classes in Introduction to Microsoft Word, a writing workshop to prepare students for college-level English classes and a class in study skills. If the demand is as expected, backers of the Newport site hope to add more classes next spring.

        “We're really trying to eliminate those things that prohibit people from going to college — whether they be transportation, money or child care,” said Dr. Fred Rhynhart, director of the Newport Community Learning Centers.

        New Urban Learning Center course offerings for fall include a psychology class, a course in medical assistance that will feed into a degree program at Northern Kentucky Technical College, and a class on life and study skills for adults who are returning to school, Ms. Winchell said. The latter class is patterned after NKU's popular Orientation to College and Beyond course that's been offered for the past 15 years, Ms. Winchell said.

        For now, the learning center will continue to be funded with grants, but backers of Northern Kentucky's new community and technical college have said they hope to get permanent funding approved by the 2002 General Assembly.


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