PHILADELPHIA, June 16, 2019—Community College of Philadelphia President Donald Guy Generals is a man on a mission. As the author of “Booker T. Washington: The Architect of Progressive Education,” Dr. Generals is an advocate of progressive education, which views learning as the cornerstone to the democratic prospect. He is guided by the philosophy and seeks to utilize its teachings as the basis for his leadership.
Dr. Generals points to the achievement of CCP’s faculty and staff for expanding teaching and learning beyond the classroom walls. The bridge between theory and practice is central to the progressive educational model, Dr. Generals said. By aligning the curriculum with the workforce needs of the area day care centers, area health care providers and the city’s thriving hospitality industry, the faculty are exposing students to real-world experiences related to their field of study. Service-learning opportunities are expanding in conjunction with the Institute for Community Engagement and Civic leadership. Through the Institute, the College has adopted the Spring Garden School and embarked upon a number of community service opportunities throughout the city.
The entire city should be proud of the work performed by the College’s Honors program and faculty which, in the last 5 years, has produced 3 Jack Kent Cooke scholarship winners and one Rhodes Scholar, Dr. Generals said. In addition, science faculty, in partnership with the Wistar Institute, have created a pathway for area research biologists and laboratory technicians, and brought diversity to these innovation centers.
However, for every national scholar, there are thousands of CCP graduates contributing to the social and economic wellbeing of Philadelphia. “If you’ve had your car repaired in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, it’s a good chance that car was repaired by a graduate of CCP,” Dr. Generals said. “If you’ve visited a hospital in or around the city, it’s very likely you encountered a CCP nurse or medical technician. Our graduates are contributing, in no small way, to the city’s economic resurgence.
Although CCP’s graduation rate continues to rise, so much more needs to be done to reduce the intractable 26% poverty rate. “The renaissance enjoyed by many Philadelphians will screech to a grinding halt unless we find ways to include those who are stuck in poverty,” he said. We believe violence is a by-product of poverty. The recent uptick in violence has directly affected CCP students and therefore, we cannot stand on the sidelines. We must play a direct role in addressing the challenges associated with poverty.”
As a strategy, the College has embarked upon a “wellness” agenda to help forestall those challenges including food and housing insecurity. The plan is to convene city partners for the purpose of creating a stronger and less opaque system of economic and social support. “We know through Abraham Maslow that the first step toward self-actualization is satisfying safety and physiological needs,” Dr. Generals said. “Our students — the city’s citizens — will not make academic or career progress without meeting those basic needs.”
The College will continue to expand its efforts in workforce development and career training. It is finalizing an ambitious plan to turn the West Regional Center into a hub that provides training for in-demand occupations. The first round of funding has been obtained, and groundbreaking is expected in early 2020. The programs housed at Career and Advanced Technology Institute will provide practical skills and stable incomes, and will include advanced manufacturing, advanced auto technology and other mid-level and high-tech training skills that are necessary for the current and future job markets.
With financial support from City Council and Mayor Kenney, CCP launched Power Up Your Business, which strengthens neighborhoods by providing free workshops for the small businesses within commercial corridors. This program is a natural complement to the very successful 10,000 Small Businesses – Greater Philadelphia program (10KSB) co-sponsored by Goldman Sachs.
After Mayor Jim Kenney made Early Childhood Education the cornerstone of his quest to provide opportunities for all the city’s children, CCP collaborated with the District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund to help workers in child care centers earn credit for the skills they are developing on the job. The new Early Childhood Apprenticeship program allows full-time early child care workers who hold a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate to earn an associate degree in Early Childhood Education. During this two-year program, workers in local child care centers receive 18 college credits for prior on-the-job learning along with wage increases and mentors. The program provides a pathway into a professional career and family sustaining wages.
Dr. Generals believes that in nearly all of the educational practices at CCP, the faculty have followed the progressive model by creating problem-focused curriculum that reflects the needs and interests of the students while serving the greater good of the communities from which students come — and will likely stay.
This fall, the College will introduce four new academic programs, each developed in consultation with faculty, employers and partners across the city.
The new Tourism and Hospitality Management associate degree begins in a year in which area hotels have undertaken a massive recruitment drive for workers. Three new hotels opened in the first part of the year, adding 4,900 jobs to the 272,000 hospitality staff in the Philadelphia area. The Tourism and Hospitality Management program will use the tourism industry as a living lab for students, a place where they can acquire real life experience in an industry that is booming, while integrating the latest classroom theory and practices.
The new Black Studies associate degree at CCP will create a path for students seeking entry into a problem-focused discipline designed to address the issues associated with the black experience. Topics will focus on the diaspora as it relates to global challenges, intergenerational poverty as the continuing legacy of slavery, mass incarceration, racism and more. The capstone course will include a service-learning project or a study abroad option to an African location. By studying original texts as part of their research, students will enhance critical thinking, leadership and communication skills, all of which are important for career success.
A new Fashion Merchandising and Marketing program will help to provide an influx of diverse workers in the billion dollar industry of fashion merchandising and marketing. Students will be prepared to understand business operations, locally and beyond, and to gain vital performance skills, including communication and sales. In their second year, students actually will run a pop up store, and engage in field experiences and professional projects.
Finally, the associate degree in Business Leadership is designed for motivated students who seek the flexibility to customize their business degree around their personal interests. The degree allows students to take 16-credit hours of courses in a specific discipline of their choice such as health care, entrepreneurism or auto technology. The student then takes wrap-around business courses to hone leadership, performance and operational skills. For example, a student interested in auto technology may use their 16-credits to gain proficiency as an auto technician, and then acquire the essential business skills that position them to seize future marketing and sales career opportunities in the automotive industry.
“At CCP, faculty, staff and students are making the city’s most pressing challenges part of the learning environment,” Dr. Generals said. “Our Strategic Plan: Impact 2025, is a reflection of our commitment to providing pathways for everyone to the mainstream of American social and economic wellbeing."
About Community College of Philadelphia
Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 28,000 students annually and offers day, evening, and weekend classes, as well as classes online. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.
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