Owens’ Learning Center opens new educational doorsWritten by Michael Driehorst | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a common saying that knowledge is power.
And Owens Community College is working on ways to ensure everyone has access to that power.
The recent announcement of offering free tuition to Toledo Public School and Findlay High School graduates is just the latest example of that effort. One of the latest successful efforts is the Owens Learning Center inside The Source, 1301 Monroe St.
The Learning Center opened at The Source in the fall 2007 with 164 students. A year later, 588 students were enrolled.
One of them is Candace Lonas, a single mother with sons Sherrod Thompson, 20, and Scott Thompson, 25. It was Sherrod who transferred from a South Carolina college to Owens in January and who encouraged his mother to go back to school. Lonas attended UT about 10 years ago and enrolled at Owens to get an associate degree in social service. Once she finishes at Owens, she plans to return to UT and earn her bachelor’s degree.
When Lonas first looked into enrolling at Owens, she wasn’t aware of the Learning Center.
“At first, I was going to enroll part time because of the long drive to the main campus, particularly when the roads get icy during winter,” said Lonas, who lives within 10 minutes of the Learning Center. “But, I’m now attending full time and taking classes at both campuses because of the Downtown Toledo location.
“I love it here,” she added. “I like the environment of the small classes and the help and support from the teachers.”
The Learning Center’s 11,367-square-foot campus includes five classrooms, two computer labs and a nursing lab that feature six hospital beds. There are plans to add more classroom space, as well as another computer lab, according to Kita Graham, director of the Learning Center.
Classes run Monday through Friday, year round, day and night. Graham said the Learning Center is constantly seeking student feedback to ensure it is offering a class schedule that meets their needs.
The types of courses currently offered include algebra and other areas of mathematics; a range of business courses, including financial accounting; writing, composition and reading; keyboarding; public speaking; psychology and sociology; and astronomy.
In addition to the learning facilities, there are many of the same student services and support programs you’d find on the main Owens campus, including two full-time advisers. Other student support includes financial aid services, career- and job-placement services and tutoring.
“We’re making sure that we offer many of the same services as you’d see on the main Owens campus because, when you’re a student at the Learning Center, you are part of Owens Community College,” Graham said.
TARTA also provides free transportation to the students attending class at the Learning Center from most of its downtown Toledo routes.
An inside source
The Learning Center complements The Source’s mission, according to Lucas County Commission Tina Skeldon Wozniak.
She said The Source aims to be a “one-stop employment center” for Lucas County and offers an array of employment services to county residents.
When Owens Community College was seeking to expand beyond its main Perrysburg Township, Northwood and Findlay campuses, Skeldon Wozniak said that The Source ended up being the perfect location with infrastructure the school sought.
“We’re so pleased that it’s been a win-win situation,” she said. “Often, when you’re looking for a job, you find you need additional education. With the Learning Center being housed within The Source facility, it’s been very beneficial for citizens to easily get that additional education needed for long-term, stable employment.
“The Source, now combined with Owens’ Learning Center, has been a good investment for taxpayers. The citizens of our area have benefited from the collaborative effort with Owens,” she said.
Graham said a little less than 20 percent of the Learning Center’s students come from the Source.
In addition, some Downtown Toledo businesses have begun to encourage employees to take classes at the Learning Center, and there are some residents of the city’s homeless shelters who are taking classes to try to turn their lives around.
Overall, Graham said, students at the Learning Center come from all walks life — including traditional to nontraditional, older students, to those seeking educational basics and those seeking certification in a particular area.
“About half of the students at the Learning Center would not be attending Owens if this campus was not here,” Graham said. “Our goal is to reach out and make higher education more accessible to all area students.”