Get Not Out
I can not do it. I can not do math. I can not read. I can not get a job.
The word "not" is a negative word that often comes up when someone is discouraged and doesn't feel like they can accomplish their goals.
Isothermal Community College (ICC) is teaming up with organizations across the state to get the world "not" out of the vocabulary of community members through the "Get Not Out of Your Life" program.
"There is a nine-county area in Western North Carolina called the Future Forward Workforce Alliance. We are one of the counties in that group. In September of 2011 we got together and they were doing some great work in the piedmont areas with that campaign to battle adult illiteracy," said Mike Gavin, director of marketing and community relations for ICC. "We had several meetings up at Caldwell Community College with people from all of the community colleges and all the workforce development boards in the area and talked about some of the problems facing our region."
"One of the big problems was almost a sense of hopelessness," Gavin added. "People didn't see the point of going back to school because they felt like there weren't really any jobs. We wanted to start battling some of this on a regional level."
According to a press release, the goal of the "Get Not Out" campaign is to help people who have been held back by the world "not" regain control. The program will help these individuals seek counsel, upgrade their education and job training and overcome barriers to personal and career satisfaction.
In conjunction with the program, ICC will provide success coaches to any student or community member that needs encouragement. The "Get Not Out of Your Life" and the success coaches programs will be launched on Wednesday, May 29 from 7:30-9 a.m. at The Foundation where a free breakfast will be provided.
"A lot of people feel like they can't do it. They don't have a lot of confidence so success coaches are supposed to help them build that confidence up. This way people have a plan and motivators to be successful in school and keep on keeping on," said Kimberly Snyder, learning support and retention counselor at ICC.
Students or community members who wish to work with a success coach can call 2-1-1, the new statewide call system that is described as the non-emergency call for help. Unveiled in March, the number can connect the caller to information about multiple issues such as finding food for children, housing, utility services, shelter from abuse and places to become volunteers.
"Hopefully, when people need services they will call 2-1-1. It's a database of all the help agencies in the community. As they are talking with someone about their immediate needs, hopefully they can introduce the idea of education because that can take care of some long-term needs," Snyder said. "They can be working on getting their educations so they don't need help in the future because they will hopefully have a better job."
The ICC success coach team consists of Snyder, Dr. Johnny Smith, dean of learning support and retention; Alfreda Lindsay, disability and career service counselor; Sara Newcomb, advising coordinator and Workforce Investment Act case managers Sherry Browning and Linda Knippa.
"We are working with 2-1-1 to recruit students who will be referred to me primarily. We will assess them to figure out what coach would be great pair for that student based off of where they are with their needs," Newcomb said. "From there if they don't follow up with us, we will be following up with them. We will be making contacts and we're ready."
The success coach team has already been practicing their techniques with student Ashley Price. Snyder served as her coach and talked with her about her motivators and any barriers that were holding her back.
"Kimberly has been just so supportive and pushed me. We went over my motivations and my son is what motivates me," Price said. "She has given me a lot of confidence and when I feel like giving up, she's always there and pushed me to keep going."
Former ICC students Tangie Jones and Jerry Freeman are enthusiastic about the success coach program. Both had to go back to school after being laid off from their jobs. They each had people to encourage them through their schooling.
"I worked at Mastercraft. Me and my husband were both actually laid off on the same day from the same company, so we both went back to school," Jones said. "When I got to school here I started in the medical office administration program under my instructor Tiffany Cooper. We bonded and she was an encourager along the way while I was here."
Jones now works at the college as the secretary of enrollment. She credits Cooper with helping her get to this point.
"I'm so glad to be here. It's a wonderful place to go to school and to work. It's a great community here. We are like family," Jones said. "Tiffany was a big help to me. She was very encouraging and always there."
Freeman, an Exceptional Children's teacher assistant at R-S Middle School, got his encouragement from Dr. Smith.
"When I first got here at Isothermal, I was socially a wreck. I didn't like wearing a tie and I didn't like carrying on conversations with people. Dr. Smith taught us to be sociable in life," Freeman said. "It was hard at first and I felt like I was never going to graduate. In those times that I wanted to quit, he kept me motivated and the biggest message that I learned from going here is if you can change the way you think, you can change the way you live."
Freeman said that he thinks the success coach program will flourish if students and community members are open to new ideas.