CCCC’s Jon Spoon recently stepped into a new position as the director of continuing education — a move that will revitalize the college’s continuing education program and allow work typically …
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CCCC’s Jon Spoon recently stepped into a new position as the director of continuing education — a move that will revitalize the college’s continuing education program and allow work typically coordinated by a multi-person department to be headed instead by one person.
“This role change will give the college the ability to renew its focus on this programming area,” said Mark Hall, the Chatham Provost for Central Carolina Community College. “Jon has some great ideas for upcoming courses, especially once the pandemic subsides.”
The college currently offers some continuing education courses, but the pandemic has limited what can be offered, as some courses, such as pottery, are nearly impossible to virtualize.
“We’re kind of at a nadir with the programming currently, but we’re going to be ramping back up,” Spoon said, who served as the college’s small business director for the last five years. “That’s honestly one of the biggest challenges right now for me is narrowing my scope and focusing on a few core things that we need to build back up.”
In the new role, Spoon will be working to plan industry training, career pathway augmentation for students and personal enrichment opportunities. Some specific areas, like HR development, medical courses or law enforcement and emergency training programs, are handled by additional coordinators. Beyond those programs, continuing education encompasses the college’s educational programs that do not lead directly to a degree, Spoon said, though many will lead to professional licenses or credentials.
A potter and sculptor himself, Spoon will be leading the college’s ceramics program, along with the welding and woodworking courses. Before coming to CCCC, he was the director of the Arts Incubator in Siler City, and he’s excited to use this new role to connect with more local businesses and artists. Other programming will range from sustainable agriculture to construction, chef programs and more.
“I enjoyed helping the people,” Spoon said of his previous role, “but I’m glad to be transitioning into something that works in a wider array of different learning fields. I’m from Chatham County and so I feel like my biggest strengths that I’m bringing into this are knowing the county really well, and being able to start connecting these dots.”
For now, he’s focused on trying to get through the remainder of the adapted period while looking for ways to incorporate the technology tools used this semester in the future too. He’ll be spending a lot of time talking with the college’s business and industry partners to offer additional courses and certifications to keep employees up to date on job qualifications.
This semester, he’ll also be planning for the fall, trying to pick “a reasonable number” of continuing education and personal enrichment courses. About 40% of his planning time, he said, is spent talking with potential instructors and employees about teaching those courses and securing spaces for them.
“The other 60% is me, crushing it on the computer and writing course outlines and planning out budgets and putting it all together,” he said, “so that we can hopefully, in the fall if we get the green light, come back with a strong effort, and one that’s only going to expand from there.”
Spoon has big dreams for the programming — he joked he’s reigning in his own imagination, which leads him to courses such as making pickles, for instance — and ultimately, he thinks offered courses will be really rewarding for lots of people: retired folks attending weekly woodworking class, 18-year-olds wishing to learn a trade/craft or adults transitioning to a new job getting new certifications to move up in their current job.
“I think they’re of huge importance, and they’re important for lots of different people at different periods in their life,” he said of the courses. “I mean, it’s really a big job, but I’m excited for it. Because I do think it’s the job that I was supposed to be doing in Chatham County, and I do know that we’ve got some really, really cool unique dots that could be connected. That’ll be my job.”
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.