Meador: Unprecedented year brings unprecedented changes to education

Wow!  What a year this has been.  To borrow a great but over used quote – “It has been the best of times and the worst of times.”   Over the last 6 months, the team and students of Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College have been tested to their limits in so many ways. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every student, every faculty member, every staff member and the families of all of these groups.  In March of 2020 we were all sent home to quarantine from the pandemic.   Looking back we all hoped in a few days this would pass like a hurricane, snow or freeze.  Months later we are still learning to live with the changes.  In August of this year, SmartAssest.com listed our college #6 nationally.  To be ranked #6 of 837 colleges is a huge honor.  This ranking is based upon completion rates and costs of attendance.  NLTCC boasts the highest completion rate of any college in Louisiana. 

NLTCC takes great pride in our motto: Inspired, Equipped, and Ready to Work.  It’s our culture, our way of life.  Because we take “Ready to Work” very seriously, we believe Ready to Work must include hands-on training, skill practice, and assessment.  It is very hard to practice Welding, Nursing Skills, or Instrumentation through a computer.  

In the weeks leading up to the campus facility shut down, planning was underway to enhance the online portion of our training.  When the order to stay home came, we were ready to transform in-person/hands-on training programs to something very different.  An extensive training program was implemented to train every instructor how to teach online and to seek out those topics in every course that could be provided online. We began immediately working to keep every student engaged and learning from home. 

In May under the Phase II Guidelines we began a slow, very closely regulated return to campus for only those students that needed lab time to complete their studies.  The needed supplies were obtained, staff were trained in the protocols, then every person entering a campus building was screened under the guidelines.  Each person was required to wear a mask at all times.  

Through the months of May and June, across the college we completed almost every course that was started in the spring term.  Drive-through graduations for these students were held at each of our three campuses to allow graduates to celebrate safely with their families.  These students were “Inspired” now fully “Equipped” and “Ready to Work”.  The vast majority of these graduates went to work immediately. 

Moving forward with continued Phase II protocols we ran a summer term and began our first eight-week fall term.  Each program at the college is offered in a Hybrid format with portions on line and portions on campus.  This format allows NLTCC to serve more students under the guidelines.

As we move forward in our state with Phase III, Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College is ready to continue training students for their future.  We will continue to utilize the protocols and procedures that have been honed and fine tuned over the summer months to provide the best and safest education possible for our students.  Always remembering our to goal is to be sure our students are “Inspired, Equipped, and Ready to Work”.

Dr. Earl Meador | Chancellor, Northwest Louisiana Technical Community College.