Joe Wyatt
Published September 2, 2016

Amarillo College has received affirmation from an authority second to none that its innovative integration of resources to support underprepared adult students is not only unique and worthwhile, but simply too promising to keep under wraps.

The U.S. Department of Education wants AC to share its methodology nationwide.

The DOE’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) informed AC in August that AC is one of only four community colleges being enlisted to participate in a new and far-reaching project dubbed Supporting Student Success.

The project was established to identify and widely share the best methods community colleges are using to align developmental and adult education programs to support students in their transition to post-secondary education and employment goals.

Thanks to the purposeful integration of its acclaimed Poverty Initiative into the formula, AC has done that and more.

“Our adult education students and our developmental education students, many of them have great needs,” Dr. Tamara Clunis, AC’s dean of academic success, said. “Our integration of academic support and social services support is what makes this project work at AC.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for our ability to serve our least-prepared students and help adult learners build their basic skills while they’re completing workforce training,” she said. “Our adult and developmental education alignment really is cutting-edge. This is an exciting opportunity for us to share our expertise with other community colleges around the country.”

A letter AC received from OCTAE stated: “Using evidence-based criteria and recommendations from program experts and academic researchers, project staff selected Amarillo College from a diverse pool of community colleges nationwide. Your institution was validated in the program area of Student Support.”

The letter also stated: “Highlights of various aspects of your institution’s program will be featured in upcoming materials developed for the Department of Education.”

Moreover, in the year ahead, Clunis, AC President Russell Lowery-Hart, and Jordan Herrera, director of social services, will share AC’s best practices through a variety of platforms, messaging directed toward colleges in OCTAE’s network that are striving to better align developmental and adult education services.

OCTAE also has invited AC leadership to participate (expenses paid) in both a Thought Leader’s Summit and a Minority-Serving Institutions Conference later this year in Washington D.C., and to contribute to a national webinar in March.

“We are honored by the Department of Education’s support for and advocacy of Amarillo College,” Lowery-Hart said. “Our work is not only changing lives. We also are dramatically improving the financial future of our community by ensuring more students earn degrees leading to employment.”