Jeanne Howell believes in the power of workforce training
Building a strong, viable workforce and encouraging environmentally sustainable practices are big-time passions for Jeanne Howell. “She’s kind and knowledgeable and dedicated to helping advance workforce training,” said Mike Hicks, an RCC apprenticeship instructor and longtime student.
Howell, dean of Instruction and Workforce/Continuing Education, admires Hicks’ ability as an instructor and his ongoing thirst for knowledge. “Mike is definitely a lifelong learner and excellent instructor who gets strong ratings from students. He’s a team player and always willing to do whatever it takes,” she noted. “Mike was instrumental in rewriting the apprenticeship curriculum.”
Howell oversees workforce and career and technical training at RCC. “I’m very committed to career and technical training and the leg-up that it gives to so many members of our community,” she said. “A well-trained workforce provides incentives for more businesses to come to our area and skilled workers strengthen our economy. And RCC gives an opportunity to a lot of people who otherwise might never attend college.”
Howell, who earned a master’s in vocational education at the University of Idaho, was previously a career counselor and job developer with The Job Council, managed operations of a Treasure Valley Community College campus, and taught classes at several levels. She also is a prime mover at RCC for promoting sustainable practices and is a leader on the college’s Green Team, working to advance recycling and environmental awareness.
RCC fulfills Mike Hicks' need for knowledge
Over the past 20 years, Mike Hicks has come to know Rogue Community College well, having been both a student and an instructor. “RCC is a great place to learn and teach. There’s a very flexible, wide selection of classes,” said Hicks, a self-described lifelong learner. “Instructors are down to earth and helpful. If you put forth the work, they really make the extra effort.”
While completing his apprentice training through RCC, Hicks, now 42, also earned an associate’s degree. For the past 18 years he’s worked as an industrial electrician for Timber Products Co. in Medford. “I’m a student of life and learning has been ongoing,” noted Hicks. “My education has been all over the place. I take a class as I see a need and RCC really fills that niche.” For example, honing his computer skills has proven useful at work, he said.
Hicks, who also serves as a part-time workforce instructor for RCC, is beginning his sixth year teaching electrician apprenticeship classes. “I like interacting with students, especially when they understand what I’m trying to teach and they have that moment of discovery,” he said. “The first term I taught I was scared to death, but I caught on quickly how to adjust my teaching style for each student,” Hicks said, adding that the college provides high quality equipment for students to learn on. “RCC meets the needs of a changing workforce,” he added. “This college has one of the best business development and workforce training centers in Oregon.”
Hicks credits Associate Dean of Instruction Jeanne Howell for guiding him as an instructor and as a student. “She’s kind and knowledgeable and dedicated to helping advance workforce training. I confer with her about my goals, scheduling, and teaching.”
Hicks also is an advocate of Career Pathways, a method through which students can take an identified group of classes (12-44 credits) and earn certificates that help advance their careers. They can stop out and work a while, and then return to school to earn additional certificates or degrees. “I like Pathways and would like to see it expanded,” Hicks said. “The certificates are steppingstones to a degree. It appeals to people with jobs. If you’re in the workforce, it’s hard to earn a degree. With Pathways you can complete the modules and keep moving forward,” he explained.
A native of Ashland, Hicks completed one term at Southern Oregon University in 1985 but found it was “too soon after high school” and went to work at the mill. His wife, Stephanie, drives a bus for Central Point School District 6.
These days, Hicks has become increasingly interested in photojournalism. He’s considering getting a multimedia degree at Rogue and then transferring to SOU. “I’ve always loved photography, but with three kids it was too expensive. Now there's just one (child) still at home,” he said. Hicks especially enjoys sports photography and has had a number of photos published he’s taken at Crater High School, where his son Mike plays varsity basketball. “In 10 years I would like to be able to travel to events and make money as a freelance writer and photographer,” Hicks said. RCC, he expects, will play a role in that new chapter of life.
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