Gaps Bridged at CSC Health Science Career Summit

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Carl Sandburg College hosted a Health Science Career Summit on Tuesday, May 17, at the Main Campus in Galesburg. The summit brought people of various educational levels and organizations together to collaborate on creating a seamless process for students going from high school to college to career who are pursuing degrees in math and science. Representing organizations included Galesburg High School (GHS), Abingdon High School (AHS), Knox County Regional Office of Education (ROE) #33, Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL), Western Illinois University (WIU), and Carl Sandburg College (CSC).

CSC administrators Lauri Wiechmann, dean of allied health, and Connie Thurman, dean of human resources and organizational development, created this event. They have been active participants in the Pathways to Results (PTR) initiative, having attended the Scaling Up PTR conference this past March and utilizing a $20,000 PTR grant from October 2010 to fund the this summit.

“It was exciting to have all the ideas generated,” said Wiechmann. “I think the biggest thing was to listen to what we thought we had needed and these participants supporting exactly what we thought – it was validation that we’re on the right path with this grant.”

“The thing that was the most eye-opening to me was to hear people say ‘I didn’t know that…I did not know that…I did not know that research was there and I think that’s the beauty of this…the gathering of this group of people together,” said Thurman.

Dave Baxter, a physical science, physics, advanced placement physics teacher at GHS, came into the summit with little expectations but an open mind. “I’m understanding better now that we’re working to create a pipeline to help transition kids from junior high to high school to college to career,” said Baxter. “It’s a path where we know there are these huge gaps that it’s almost impossible for kids to jump them when they don’t have the experience or maybe their families don’t know how to get them across those gaps, so they just fall into the gaps.

“It was exciting to me – I’ve been in meetings where sometimes we just spin our wheels and talk, but here we seem to have some concrete things that we want to accomplish now and want to be developing soon. Help define the pathways or define the things students need to do on their way to certain careers. Sometimes I feel like a baseball player who is throwing a ball to someone in the dark.  I don’t know who’s on the other end…I don’t know where they are…it might be Sandburg or other colleges. I’m sending kids out the door of my classroom with the best of intentions and hope, but I don’t really know where they go after that, and I just cross my fingers. It really helps now to turn the lights on to see the other people on the receiving end and see that they are the next step.”

Cathy Kirby from the OCCRL spoke about programs of study, and lead one of the individual discussion groups. “It was very rewarding to see the end product from the Pathway to Results project that this team worked on,” said Kirby. “I happen to know just from experience being in career and technical education and working with high schools and colleges that we get very few venues for people to come together at the table at the same time. Lauri and her team recognize the value of just putting people in the room together and for them to use their project in this way was very rewarding. I think…I hope…that the people who were here felt that way too.”

Kristy Morelock, representing the ICCB, spoke about the Common Core Standards and lead a different individual discussion group. “It’s nice to see the particular local areas we’re visiting as part of this grant really engaging in not just the continuous improvement process, but engaging in how to better align secondary to post-secondary and bring in multiple partners in this process,” said Morelock. “Programs of study in its essence is not just secondary and post secondary, it’s the two working together, so to see not just the CTE (Career Technical Education) faculty but also the academic faculty – all those courses are integrated into a program of study, and so to see those two groups engaging and understanding their role is moving forward, to better student outcomes in those program areas, is extremely exciting for me.”

“I think too many times we’re focused on being just college ready and not thinking about how do we get a student career ready as well. The bar really is just as high for both. You have to have those academic components, but you also need those employability skills as well. It’s taught at all levels – it’s a life-long learning process. I think, now, engaging those partners more and them understanding how to better fit into a role and what they can bring to the table adds more life to it as a whole.

“We’re still building the plane as we’re flying it, and trying to get more local areas engaged. I know with funding and resources and the economy being tight it gets kind of structured and how we bring those groups together. However, in this particular area and in others, the funding – it’s not about the money, it’s about the student. It’s about the outcomes. It’s about making better programs – making students more aware of careers out there. In essence that’s what educational reform is about – it’s better outcomes for students. Whether I’m coming from high school or I’m coming in from a non-traditional background such as being laid off or coming in for more additional training it’s about better assisting students at all levels.”

Additional individuals present included: Mike Miller, Rosemary Eisemann, Jen Good, Linda Dilworth, and Cathy Shenaut from GHS; Heather Craig and Robert Bernales from AHS, Bill Griffin from ROE #33, Judy Brown from Western Illinois University; Megan Jones, Kim Norris, Dave Burns, Tony Paris, Candy Bryant, Jonathan Doolin, Robin DeMott, Vicki McMullin, Mary Shull, and Julie Gibb from CSC.

For more information on the Pathways to Results, visit For more information on the Common Core Standards visit