The College of the Canyons School of Personal and Professional Learning was presented an Honorable Mention award by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges’ 2021 Exemplary Program Award.
The award was presented virtually on Jan. 19 at the California Community Colleges board of governors meeting.
Sponsored by the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the board of governors created the Exemplary Program Award in 1991 to recognize outstanding community college programs.
“Our efforts have truly been a campus-wide effort and I am eternally grateful to have such an amazing support network,” said Garrett Rieck, faculty lead for the college’s School of Personal and Professional Learning (PPL).
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Academic Senate chose “Equitable Practices in a Virtual Educational Environment” as the theme for this year’s 2020-21 Exemplary Program award.
Since the start of the pandemic, the college’s School of Personal and Professional Learning has served a pivotal role in providing equitable educational opportunities in a virtual environment.
PPL classes, which are tuition-free, have provided virtual educational opportunities to underserved populations and created equitable pathways toward students’ career and academic goals.
To help students continue meeting their academic goals, the program also provided laptops to students.
Since fall 2019, the college’s School of Personal and Professional Learning has served a total of 7,841 students online and more than 360 students earned 440 certificates.
The program also provided instruction to 3,047 public safety students through instructional service agreements and more than 550 incarcerated students through correspondence education.
In addition, more than 1,700 Canyons Promise students were served through boot camps in summer 2020.
During the past two years, the college’s School of Personal and Professional Learning has gone to great lengths to expand course offerings and faculty training for virtual instruction.
With an eye toward workforce training, the program has collaborated across campus and the community to build a diverse menu of course offerings that allow students to learn the skills needed to increase employability.
“During economic downturns, people rely on the community college system for opportunities to upskill and earn the degrees/certificates needed to start a new career, advance in their current field, and meet their academic goals,” said Rieck. “Noncredit programs serve a unique role in the community college system by providing accessible and equitable opportunities that require less of a financial and time commitment than credit programs.”
The School of Personal and Professional Learning at COC provides lifelong learning classes to residents of all ages and skill levels, at no cost.