JCCC expands Supported Education Program

CONNECT students were being instructed by Professor Jacque Bogdan regarding good communication skills. Oct. 19. They were learning about the importance of communicating with nonverbal skills like smiling, listening, waving, eye contact, and posture; as well as the students' verbal skills. They were being taught the boundaries of respectful communication. Photo by Sherry Osborn, staff reporter.

Johnson County Community College’s CONNECT program, which was initiated this Fall 2022, is an immersive transition program that aims to replicate the college experience for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Courtney Barden, Manager of Supported Education Programs at JCCC, manages CONNECT, the Inclusive Transition Program, the CLEAR program’s Saturday classes, the Life Enrichment program, and the CLEAR Expansion program.

CONNECT is a two-year program where students attend three courses that cover independent living, career development, job readiness and basic life planning skills. Then students will choose elective courses that can be used for credit. Upon completion of the CONNECT program, students receive a Certificate in Career Development and Leadership. 

Barden explained in an interview that the CONNECT program practices the Peer Mentor Model in order to integrate the students into college life. On Mondays, students plan their weeks with the assistance of mentors, on Tuesdays, students get mentor academic study time, and Fridays, students participate in Fitness Friday. 

The CONNECT program students take full advantage of all the resources that the college offers. They use the school’s library for research, can seek tutoring in the Academic Achievement Center, and they spend time in the Career Success Center for those who are needing some advice or help with resumes. Students as well take full advantage of the student life opportunities by joining clubs, organizations and by attending social events on campus. 

Courtney Barden, manager of Supported Education Program poses for a picture, Oct. 19. Photo by Sherry Osborn, staff reporter.

“Johnson County Community College has been a leader in inclusive post-secondary education since the CLEAR program first began in 1977,” Barden said. “As more comprehensive inclusive education has become an emerging trend in higher education in the last decade, we are very excited to be able to take this further step for our students with the CONNECT program.”

Sherry Osborn, staff reporter



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