Tag Archives: pathways

Stronger bonds with PPEP


The College took another important step in strengthening its community connections when Dr. John Arnold of Portable Practical Educational Preparation Inc. and Affiliates (PPEP) and I last week signed a Memorandum of Understanding between our two institutions.

Memoranda of Understanding are designed to expand and enhance relationships between organizations whose mission and goals are well aligned. Our organizations have a good foundation to build upon. Graduates from PPEP’s TEC High School attend PCC, and the College’s East Campus Upward Bound college preparatory program serves PPEP TEC Victor Soltero Charter High School.

Like PCC, PPEP is committed to reaching populations that historically have been underserved educationally. PPEP operates both brick-and-mortar charter schools and has a robust K-12 online learning initiative that is part of a holistic suite of services, including job training and microfinance. And, like PPEP, the College recognizes the importance of creating seamless transitions from high school to postsecondary education opportunities.  Long gone are the days of allowing students to wander in the woods while they try to find their career path.

Among the topics that may be explored by PCC and PPEP are faculty-to-faculty meetings, dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities, development of online and other programs to prepare PPEP students to successfully move to higher education, and development of a completion program for foreign-educated students. The College is embarking on a re-imagination of its online curriculum and is expanding global initiatives because we recognize the need to create access in the most universal sense. That is part of our vision, and it makes economic sense too, given that 95 percent of our audience lives outside the U.S.

Dr. Arnold used a very apt metaphor in describing the significance of the memorandum, likening it to throwing a pebble into the water and watching the ripples spread out. Both PPEP and PCC are committed to reaching neighbors at the outermost ripple – those who lack access to our services because of geography, language or economic circumstance. By finding common ground and working together, our organizations can reach out and offer a foothold on the ladder of educational and economic opportunity to the people who need us the most.

Connecting with K-12

Metro Tucson’s district school superintendents came to PCC last week for our second annual luncheon, which brings together local K-12 leadership, PCC campus presidents and key College administrators. We shared information about PCC initiatives that affect our partners in the education pipeline, and to discuss ways to connect in order to build clearer pathways to student success, something our external constituents expect and deserve.

Group 1 MM and LL

As at last year’s inaugural event, there was a lot to talk about. Provost Dr. Erica Holmes shared PCC’s progress in redesigning developmental education, based on the bedrock principle of open access. “We meet students where they are,” Dr. Holmes said, and “take them where they want to go academically.”

We are redesigning our developmental Reading, Writing and Mathematics curricula to align them with best practices, and are assessing the impact of an innovative Math Emporium pilot program. Of special interest is a plan to work closely with Adult Education to move students into college-level coursework as quickly and effectively as possible.

A bonus for everyone was a visit by Mark Mitsui, Deputy U.S. Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, who graciously drove from an event in Phoenix to provide an update on federal initiatives to align our education system to meet college- and career-readiness standards. Mark told us, “You are doing hard work, but good work, in creating important seamless pathways” between K-12 and postsecondary education.

The meeting also included a presentation by Dr. Nic Richmond, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Planning and Institutional Research who presented data regarding the high schools that incoming PCC students have graduated from. Executive Director of Enrollment Management Dr. Heather Tilson described PCC’s re-energized outreach efforts, which are an important part of our comprehensive Enrollment Management initiative. Vice Provost Dr. Mary Ann Martinez Sanchez discussed potential alternatives to PCC assessment to determine student placement, such as examining high school transcripts or scores on the ACT, and described our efforts to expand dual enrollment.

The superintendents astutely emphasized the need for K-12 systems and PCC to present clear, unified messages to stakeholders, be they high school students and faculty regarding placement standards, or state government decision-makers as we explore ways to remove regulatory obstacles to dual enrollment expansion.

Cohesive, focused collaborations can pay big dividends – PCC’s recent $2.5 million grant from the federal government to train adults for occupational careers is tangible proof of that. By strengthening the dialogue with our partners in K-12, we can unearth ways to work together for the benefit of students and the community.