Schenectady County

SCCC unveils new classrooms at Center City

Schenectady County Community College unveiled its newest classrooms Wednesday in the heart of downto

Schenectady County Community College unveiled its newest classrooms Wednesday in the heart of downtown.

Classrooms were built above the YMCA in Center City on State Street, designed to centralize the college’s job-training programs, as well as offer additional space for popular classes that had outgrown the Washington Avenue campus.

The first job-training classes are teaching residents to be nurse’s aides. The college has been overwhelmed with applications for the class, with students ranging in age from 18 to 50.

At Center City, college officials built two hospital rooms, complete with equipment, beds and the mannequin of an elderly woman, to train the new aides. They must pass a state certification exam at the end of the class.

During the eight-week course, they will also learn enough to work as home health aides and personal care aides.

“That way they become more employ-

able,” said Tiziana Rota, who oversees the program, which is funded by a state Department of Labor grant designed to train unemployed residents.

An aide is a step below a licensed practical nurse, which requires more study. With job experience, many aides go on to take LPN and registered nurse classes, which offer middle-class wages.

“This is one of the few [jobs] left to bring them to the middle class,” said county Legislator Gary Hughes, who has pushed for better job-training programs for years. “Economic development is great, but if it doesn’t result in jobs for people in my district … I want to see training for people that turns into employment.”

Seven years ago, he said, he told economic development officials that the county’s job-training programs weren’t satisfactory because they didn’t lead to many jobs.

“It was pretty evident to me it was not doing what it needed to do,” he said.

Ray Gillen, who had just been hired to lead the Metroplex Development Authority at that time, suggested that the college run the program, Hughes recalled.

Last year, the college got a grant to begin the health aide programs. In March, classes began, and by the time the classrooms at Center City were finished, 40 people had already graduated and passed the state certification test. All but four now have jobs.

“That’s how I would measure success,” Hughes said. “Ninety percent [job placement] — you can match that up against anyone.”

Rota said the program is also posting strong results on state tests. More than 16 students took the test last week, and only two didn’t pass, she said.

Center City classrooms are also being used for credit classes leading to associate’s degrees, mainly in criminal justice, business and computer science.

At first, college officials were worried students might feel they had been assigned to a second-tier site, so they made sure every room had smartboards, projectors and other state-of-the-art equipment.

“What we’re finding is everyone wants to be here,” said Denise Murphy McGraw, chairwoman of the SCCC Board of Trustees.

The college had planned to offer 50 sections of classes at the new site this semester. Eleven more have been added as more students enrolled at the school. Currently, 1,062 students are taking classes at Center City.

“We’ve gotten very creative with scheduling,” McGraw said. “We have to look at Saturdays more aggressively.”

And as more adults come back to college — many of them with 9-to-5 jobs — some classes have to be held at night or on weekends.

“You can’t just do the traditional hours anymore,” she said.

At Center City, many classes are being offered during the college’s most popular times, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. But there are also 19 evening classes, three Friday classes and one class that starts at 7:40 a.m.

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