Free Online Resource Helps Aspiring Entrepreneurs Gain Crucial Business Skills

by Alana J. Mauger

Aspiring entrepreneurs can conveniently learn the nuts and bolts of starting a business thanks to a new, online program developed by Montgomery County Community College for the Pennsylvania Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives Collaborative. The program can be accessed online at

“Starting Your Own Business” is a free, self-paced program through which learners explore five modules on topics such as business basics, financial and legal considerations, and marketing, as well as an in-depth case study. The final module of the program guides learners through the process of developing a customized business plan.

“In today’s market, entrepreneurial spirit is more than being a business owner. Employers increasingly expect employees to think entrepreneurially when developing ideas and solving problems,” shared Philip Needles, dean of Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives at MCCC.

Learners who successfully finish the program and business plan will earn a proof of completion certificate and may be eligible to earn three credits at Montgomery through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA). Other colleges and universities may also evaluate the completed course and business plan for possible PLA credit toward one of their respective programs.

PLA is the process used by many institutions to determine if an individual’s prior educational, workforce and life experiences can be translated to college credits. Assessments can include evaluation of military or corporate training, review of portfolios, customized tests, and evaluation of completed non-credit courses, among others.

The “Starting Your Own Business” project is funded by a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant, and is part of a joint initiative of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges to train and place underemployed and unemployed residents of the Commonwealth in high demand jobs.

The program is open source and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To learn more about the project and its designers, visit or contact Denise Collins at 215-619-7313 or

Check out the video overview below!

Cadets Graduate from Municipal Police Academy

by Neree Aron-Sando

Class 1402 Lt. Brett Burns is congratulated by Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Vicki Bastecki-Perez, Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr., and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

Class 1402 Lt. Brett Burns is congratulated by Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Vicki Bastecki-Perez, Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr., and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

“This is not a one-time process,” said Municipal Police Academy Director Frank Williar, welcoming cadets and their families to the graduation of Class 1402 on Nov. 12 in the Montgomery County Community College Science Center Theater. “We have an obligation to assist each other…to provide resources to each other. People who leave here come back.

Moments before, after 19 cadets filed on stage with military precision, Horsham Township Police Officer Kate Ryan came back to the academy from which she graduated with Class 1304 to introduce Williar, who in turn introduced the evening’s special guests: Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr.; Dr. Aaron Shatzman,  dean of Social Sciences; Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, vice president of academic affairs and provost; Jesse Stemple, first deputy director Montgomery County Department of Public Safety; East Norriton Police Chief Karyl Kates; East Norriton Police Lt. Brandon Pasquale; Lower Merion Police Superintendent Michael McGrath; North Coventry Police Chief Robert Schurr, Officers Andrew Thiel and Igor Parfeniouk, and Sgt. Rob Malason; and Springfield Police Chief Michael Pitkow.

Cadet SSgt. Anastasios Apostolidis called for a moment of silence for those in uniform, both military and law enforcement, who gave their lives in the line of duty.

North Coventry Police Officer Andrew Thiel, commander of Class 1302, came back to introduce Keynote speaker Whitemarsh Township Police Lt. Francis “Fran” Wheatley, who congratulated the cadets on enduring a long and demanding course of studies.

“As a police officer, you will be constantly under intense scrutiny, both on and off duty,” Wheatley warned. “You have chosen a career and will take an oath to lead by example for the rest of your lives.” He urged the cadets never to forget the discipline they learned at the academy. “You should embrace every opportunity to be the counselor, the social worker, the help desk . . . the life-saver” roles beyond merely catching the bad guys that make the world a better place. “We are the peacekeepers who make sure that our communities are safe.”

Sean Maguire,was valedictorian of Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Sean Maguire,was valedictorian of Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Class Valedictorian Cadet Cpl. Sean Maguire of Jeffersonville told his classmates that “we step out of our secular lives into a life of service. We are the next generation of law enforcement, and we are strong.”

Upper Darby Township Police Officer Laina Stevens, commander of Class 1304 and the winner of the 2012-2014 Outstanding Academy Cadet award, introduced Castor, who returns to address the graduating classes every chance he gets. Police officers, he told the cadets “are not just people. They are symbols of a free society. If you attack one of them, you are attacking all of us. You cannot enjoy any of the things you love to do if you are afraid. And that is not the promise of America.”

Class 1402 Cadet Lt. Brett Burns was honored for his leadership. “Brett stamped his personality on the class,” Williar said. “You left some big shoes to fill.”

Burns presented the Director’s Spirit of Distinction Award to Cadet Cpl. Ryan Cifelli of Chalfont, and congratulated Cadet Joseph “Joey” Metzinger on his acceptance to the Pennsylvania State Police Academy.

Cadet David Arredondo of Stockton, Calif., won the James R. Miller Marksmanship Award in memory of the Upper Dublin police sergeant who died in a motor vehicle accident in the line of duty in 2004.

Robin Pritchett introduced the second annual Charles O. “Chip” Pritchett Exceptional Police Academy Instructor of the Year Award, named in honor of her husband, an East Norriton police officer and Municipal Police Academy deputy director who died in October 2013, and read the name of the second recipient: North Coventry Police Chief Robert A. Schurr.

“We miss him every day,” Schurr said, of Pritchett. “I’m humbled. And thank you.”

Dr. Bastecki-Perez conferred diplomas on Lt. Brett Burns, Abington; SSgt. Anastasio Apostolidis, Abington; Sgt. Joseph Metzinger, Rockledge; Sgt. Dylan Royce, Schwenksville; Cpl. Kelly Adams, Newtown; Cpl. Josué Gerena, Philadelphia; Cpl. Sean Maguire, Jeffersonville; Cpl. Branden Sisca, Trappe; Cadet David Arredondo, Stockton, Calif.; Cadet Ryan Cifelli, Chalfont; Cadet John Davis, Douglassville; Cadet Colleen Harner, Glenside; Cadet Marc Laing, Trappe; Cadet Christopher Miller, Gilbertsville; Cadet Aamir Raza, Warrington; Cadet Kevin Siebert, Oreland; Cadet John Smart, Bensalem; Cadet Steffy Shane, Perkiomenville; and Cadet Kyle Williamson, Montgomeryville.

No doubt, many of the graduates will return to speak at future graduations and to assist their successors.

Lt. Burns passed the torch to his own successor, Lt. Brian Manion, Class 1404, completing the continuity inherent in the ceremony. Manion’s classmates provided an honor guard throughout the graduation.

Cadets from class 1402 attended the academy full time, Monday through Friday, for 22 weeks, alternating studies with physical conditioning, as Maguire put it, “running and more running.”

Montgomery County Community College, in conjunction with the state training commission, operates the Municipal Police Academy at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, 1175 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken.

The academy has been the training ground for approximately 3,500 cadets with a consistent graduation rate of more than 90 percent. The 800-hour curriculum allows successful students to articulate up to 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice Studies.

Whitemarsh Township Police Lt. Francis “Fran” Wheatley gave the keynote address to cadets from Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Whitemarsh Township Police Lt. Francis “Fran” Wheatley gave the keynote address to cadets from Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Medical Billing and Coding Class Opens Door to Rewarding Career

by Alana J. Mauger

Holly Gately, Audubon, found a new career—one that she’s “excited” about—in the growing field of medical billing and coding thanks to Montgomery County Community College.

“I was a 30-something year old mother whose children were all in school for the first time. I had no career or post-secondary education,” shared Gately, who, like many adult students, was nervous about going back to school.

“I talked about it with my family and decided to try this new career. I registered for class and got my books. My life was changed. This was a path I could get excited about,” she said.

The College’s Medical Billing and Coding course—funded in part by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and offered through the Commonwealth’s JobTrakPA program—is designed for those who want to begin medical billing and coding careers or prepare for certification examinations. The course teaches students the principles of medical coding using the health industry coding manuals of CPT, ICD-9 and ICD-10 and HCPCS.

“It wasn’t always easy to get all the homework and studying done with family [obligations], but I thrived. I excelled in the course and was given the opportunity to extern for a billing company,” said Gately, who completed the course among the top in her class.

Gately went on to pass the rigorous Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Exam on her first try, and she is currently employed in a billing and coding position with an ophthalmology practice.

“I am so glad that I decided to take a chance on a new path. I have a new career, self confidence, amazing people that I now call friends, and, most of all, I have pride in knowing that I accomplished something big and wonderful,” she said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook cites that careers in medical records and health information technology are expected to grow by 22 percent through 2022—11 percent higher than the average occupation growth rate.

Registration is going on now for the next Medical Building and Coding cohort at MCCC. The class will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-10 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (with a one hour break for lunch) starting Dec. 2 and running through Feb. 17 at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Tuition is $1,350.

For more information about JobTrakPA programs at Montgomery County Community College, visit, call the JobTrakPA hotline at 215-461-1468 or email

Culinary Arts Institute Opens ‘Forty Foot Café

by Diane VanDyke

Montgomery County Community College celebrated the launch of its newest entrepreneurial initiative today with a ribbon cutting ceremony for a retail bakery café at its Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) in Towamencin Township.

Opening its doors to the community next Wednesday, Oct. 15, Forty Foot Café will offer assorted baked goods, coffee, sandwiches and other items prepared and sold by CAI students. Revenue from the sales will support the Culinary Arts programs, and tips will help students pay for competition and event fees, aprons and other program-related items. The café will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8:30-11:30 a.m., with easy access and convenient parking from Forty Foot Road.

“The bakery café provides a hands-on opportunity for students to learn the soft skills of operating a business, including how to handle customers and any issues that may arise, like running out coffee,” CAI Director Francine Marz told the roomful of attendees who gathered for the ceremony. “The students operating the café are part of our new course, Retails Operations I, in which students learn these invaluable customer service skills, along with how to produce culinary items and baked goods on a large scale.”

College President Karen A. Stout praised the partnerships that facilitated CAI’s construction and growth.

“Vision and collaboration are necessary for a new business endeavor to prosper, and that is what we see at work here today,” she said. “This state-of-the-art facility for our culinary program was made possible by a public-private partnership with Towamencin Township and Philadelphia Suburban Development Corporation.

“Our partners also include benefactors like Alma Jacobs, emeritus member of our Foundation Board of Directors and longtime supporter of the College, who invest in our students by providing scholarships,” Stout continued. “And our CAI team of instructors and administrators, who develop and implement programs that will provide our students with a well-developed spectrum of skills to succeed.”

The CAI’s future plans call for the opening of a restaurant bistro in the spring to coincide with the Retails Operations II and Quantitative Food courses that will be offered. Like the café, the bistro will feature rotating menu options prepared by the students in their courses.

For second-year culinary student Jennifer Rejniak, 38, of Glenside, the CAI and the J. Alexander and Alma Jacobs’ culinary scholarship enabled her to make a life-changing career decision. Rejniak worked as a park ranger for 10 years when she was seriously injured in a car accident and was advised not to return to that type of physically demanding work. So instead, she pursued her passion for cooking.

“It was a tough struggle to get here, but meeting my fellow classmates and hearing their hopes, fears and dreams solidified everything that I was feeling. . . Being a part of the inaugural class to step foot inside this beautiful facility has opened my eyes to the fact that I am part of something very special,” she said.

The name of the new retail bakery, Forty Foot Café, was the result of a contest and was submitted by Baking and Pastry Arts student Shannon Booker. As a result of her winning entry, she received a certificate and VIP luncheon for her and five guests.

Dean of Business & Entrepreneurial Initiatives/Strategic Advisor to the President Philip Needles, Culinary Arts Institute Director Chef Francine Marz, College President Karen A. Stout, College Board of Trustees Chairperson Michael D’Aniello and Culinary Arts Student Jennifer Rejniak cut the ceremonial ribbon for the opening of the Culinary Arts Institute’s new retail bakery café, Forty Foot Café. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Dean of Business & Entrepreneurial Initiatives/Strategic Advisor to the President Philip Needles, Culinary Arts Institute Director Chef Francine Marz, College President Karen A. Stout, College Board of Trustees Chairperson Michael D’Aniello and Culinary Arts Student Jennifer Rejniak cut the ceremonial ribbon for the opening of the Culinary Arts Institute’s new retail bakery café, Forty Foot Café. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Revisions to Education Curriculum Completed

by Alana J. Mauger

From pre-k to high school, teachers play an integral role in shaping students’ lives. And for decades, Montgomery County Community College’s Education programs have helped prepare teachers for the task. That preparation starts with an innovative curriculum that keeps pace with industry trends and transfer standards.

The College completed a multi-phase redesign of its Education programs in September, when the College’s Board of Trustees approved changes to the Secondary Education Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree program. That program completes the College’s redesigned Education portfolio, which also includes Education in the Early Years: Birth Through Grade Four A.A. and Education in the Middle Years: Grades Four through Eight A.A., approved in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

The Secondary Education A.A. program prepares students for transfer and ultimately certification to teach grades seven through 12. The program is divided into three distinct areas: liberal arts courses, professional education courses, and specific subject matter courses.

The College’s Education in the Early Years A.A. program, accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, prepares graduates for professional opportunities as teachers in early childhood settings and/or enables them to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree and teach elementary school up to grade four. The curriculum aligns with the statewide requirements for Early Childhood programs that ensure transfer to any of the fourteen universities in the state system of higher education.

Students enrolled in Education in the Middle Years A.A. program are required to select two areas of concentration, such as science and math, reading/language arts and social studies, or a similar combination (depending on the transfer institution). Graduates are prepared to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree and receive a Middle Years certification.

All three programs align with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) certification requirements, for which students must complete nine credits of special education courses and a three-credit course for teaching English language learners. Students must also take MCCC’s Introduction to Education course (EDU 100), which allows students to observe different classrooms at different grade levels and to learn about certification options and requirements, as well as Public Speaking (SPC 120) for Secondary and Teaching with Technology (EDU 120) for Middle Years and Secondary.

The Education program modifications also ensure that MCCC students can transfer seamlessly in to programs at four-year colleges and universities. In fact, the College worked closely with regional institutions to ensure that  students will transfer as juniors, having already fulfilled the schools’ first and second year requirements as long as they earn passing scores on the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) exams.

Visit the College’s Education webpage online to learn more.

West Campus to Host Annual Fall Career Expo in Pottstown

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College’s West Campus will hold its annual Fall Career Expo on Wednesday, Oct. 22 from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the South Hall Community Room, 101 College Drive, Pottstown.

Approximately 50 area employers will be on hand to recruit for part-time, full-time, temporary and seasonal employment, as well as for internships. The fair is free of charge and is open to the community.

Job searchers are encouraged to dress professionally and bring copies of their resumes to leave with employers.

Businesses and organizations that wish to participate in the Career Expo should contact Rena Allen Daniels at 610-718-1840 or

To learn more about Career Services at Montgomery County Community College, visit

Get to Know Montgomery County Community College at Fall Open Houses

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College will hold three open houses this fall to provide prospective students and the community with information about the College’s programs, campuses and activities. The open houses are free of charge and are open to the public. For more information and to pre-register, visit or call 215-641-6551.

The College’s West Campus, located at 101 College Drive in Pottstown, will host an open house on Thursday, Oct. 16, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in the South Hall Community Room.

The College’s Central Campus, located at 340 DeKalb Pike in Blue Bell, will host an open house on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m.-noon in Parkhouse Hall.

Both open houses will provide prospective students and their families with information about the College’s credit and non-credit programs. Admissions representatives will be on hand to answer questions about the admissions process, transfer opportunities, e-learning, financial aid and intercollegiate athletics, among other topics, and members of the College’s faculty will share information on the 100+ associate degree and certificate programs that are part of a comprehensive curriculum.

The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College will also host an open house on Saturday, Nov. 15 from 10 a.m.-noon at its new facility located at 1400 Forty Foot Road in Lansdale, Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the kitchens and classrooms while learning about the College’s Culinary Arts and Pastry and Baking Arts associate degree programs, as well as its Culinary Enthusiast classes. Student Success Center advisors will be on hand to answer questions about the admissions process and financial aid, among other topics.

To learn more about all the Montgomery County Community College has to offer, visit online.