Largest Cohort Graduates from ‘POWER Program’

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College celebrated the journey of 36 individuals who successfully completed the fall session of its innovative Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) Program on Dec. 4 during a ceremony at the Central Campus in Blue Bell. The fall 2014 cohort is the largest class since the program’s inception.

The POWER Program helps individuals in mental health recovery to successfully develop and reach their education and career goals through a two-credit college course that focuses on time management, basic computer skills, study skills, public speaking, college success skills, career assessment, resume writing and professionalism.

For the graduates, the POWER Program gives them the confidence and skills they need to take the next steps in their lives. Several participants reflected on their journeys during the ceremony.

“After my first arrest, it became apparent I was trapped in the system,” said Ian Bullock, who aspires to work as a drug and alcohol counselor. “Now, I am clean from drugs, doing well in school, and recently started a job that I love. I learned from my mistakes. I love this program and everyone involved.”

As part of the ceremony, 11 individuals were recognized for their achievements through the POWER Plus Program. These are former POWER participants who are now attending college classes or are currently employed as a result of completing the program. For the first time, POWER Plus offered two classes during the fall semester: POWER Employment Plus and POWER Education Plus. Many students choose to participate in both.

Student Gail Tinneny participated in both POWER Employment Plus and POWER Education Plus while enrolled in the College’s Human Services program.

“The POWER Program boosted my confidence and helped me and my boys get in the right path in life,” she shared.

POWER Community Liaison Lori Schreiber presented a POWER Advocate Award to Eric Goldstein, who is retiring from his post as Administrator for the Montgomery County Office of Behavioral Health.

“Eric has been our biggest supporter since we started this program in 2006,” said Schreiber, noting that Goldstein was an early advocate that individuals in mental health recovery can be successful students and employees, and not just patients.

Accepting the award, Goldstein explained, “the POWER Program is a collective dream—that you, as a citizen of Montgomery County, regardless of diagnosis, have an opportunity to go to college, make friends, and be part of a group.”

The College’s POWER team consists of Associate Professor of Human Services and Program Director Diane Harr; Program Coordinator/Advisor Lisa Barbiero; Community Liaison/Advisor Lori Schreiber; Employment Coordinator Tarsha Scovens; Faculty Byron Goldstein; Peer Mentor George Rohde; Administrative Coordinator Dianne Johnson; and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

Montgomery County Community College and the Office of Montgomery County Behavioral Health/Development Disabilities provide funding for POWER and POWER Plus Programs, which also receive support from the Huston Foundation, Patricia Kind Foundation, the OddFellows of Philadelphia and other private foundations. However, the programs are in need of funding to continue next year.

Individuals interested in the POWER program may obtain a referral from their mental health or school provider or may self-refer. For more information, contact Lori Schreiber at 215-461-1151 or lschreib@mc3.edu or Lisa Barbiero at 215-641-6425 or lbarbier@mc3.edu.

POWER and POWER Plus Program participants at the Dec. 4 graduation ceremony.  Photo by Sandi Yanisko

POWER and POWER Plus Program participants at the Dec. 4 graduation ceremony. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

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

College Hosts County’s 10th Annual ‘Straight Talk’ Program

by Alana J. Mauger

The Montgomery County Teen Parent Task Force, in collaboration with Montgomery County Community College, will host its 10th annual Straight Talk program on Wednesday, Oct. 22 from 6:30-9 p.m. The topic is “Building Resilience in Today’s Diverse Families.”

The program will be held in the Science Center Theater at the Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, with video-conferencing to South Hall 221 at the West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. The program is free and is open to the public; guests are encouraged to bring donations of non-perishable food for the College’s “Stock Up For Success” food pantry, which provides free breakfast and lunch items to students in need. Pre-registration is requested to Fran Wasserman at 215-688-0538 or franwasserman@verizon.net.

The Straight Talk program will include a keynote address by Abby Grasso, social services liaison with Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital, followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session. Panelists include Ron Husted, coordinator of the Fatherhood Program with Child, Home & Community, Inc., and Wendell Griffith, coordinator of mentoring services at MCCC. Literature and resources will also be available before and after the presentation.

College Hosts Employment Programs for Career Link, EARN

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College will host two upcoming programs as part of its Business Leadership Series for Pennsylvania Career Link and the Montgomery County Employment Advancement Retention Network (EARN).

Workshops on June 10 and 12 will focus on technology, manufacturing and service careers, while workshops on June 16 and 19 will focus on financial, insurance and service careers.

On June 10 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host an Employer Summit, during which human resources managers from technology companies will discuss their expectations of job applicants in the areas of computer science, information technology, management information services, digital design and computer graphics. The summit is ideal for participants seeking technical as well as non-technical occupations, including accountant, administrative assistant, customer service representative, technician and other office, technical, non-technical and entry level positions.  Participants will also learn basics of what to do, and what not to do, when applying for a position.

On June 12 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host a hands-on workshop “How to Apply Online,” during which participants will learn how to navigate employers’ online application systems. Instruction includes how to post a resume and complete required testing, as well as information on testing strategies, test anxiety and stress.

On June 16 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host a Financial Insurance and Service Summit, during which human resource managers will discuss their expectations of job applicants seeking employment with financial, insurance and service companies. Participants will also learn basics of what to do, and what not to do, when applying for a position.

On June 19 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host a hands-on workshop “How to Apply Online,” during which participants will learn how to navigate employers’ online application systems. Instruction includes how to post a resume and complete required testing, as well as information on testing strategies, test anxiety and stress.

The programs will be held at Montgomery’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell and will include networking opportunities and refreshments. The programs are free and are open to the public, but registration is required, as seating is limited. To register, contact Denise Garrigus at 215-619-7403 or dgarrigu@mc3.edu or Jennifer Kirkwood at 610-278-7289 or jkirkoo@montcopa.org.

Individuals in Recovery Find Success in ‘POWERful’ Program

by Alana J. Mauger

 Montgomery County Community College  celebrated the journey of 19 individuals who successfully completed the spring session of its innovative Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) Program on April 22 during a ceremony at the Central Campus in Blue Bell.

The POWER Program helps individuals in mental health recovery to successfully develop and reach their education and career goals through a two-credit college course that focuses on time management, basic computer skills, study skills, public speaking, college success skills, career assessment, resume writing and professionalism.

For the graduates, the POWER Program gives them the confidence and skills they need to take the next steps in their lives. Several participants reflected on their journeys during the ceremony.

“The POWER Program has given me the tools to succeed and has improved my confidence by 110 percent,” said Qiani Bennett, who described her decade-long “tug-of-war” with depression. “I will never forget the role this class has played in my journey.”

A mother of three sons, Bennett is enrolled in MCCC’s Human Services program for the fall semester.

POWER participant Leya Ross, who spoke about her struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, will be joining Bennett in the Human Services program this fall.

“I will be a confident, productive and successful critical thinker. I will carry everything I have learned for the rest of my life,” she vowed.

Devon Heise was the final student to speak, sharing her emotional journey through years of drug abuse, incarceration, rehab and attempts at college.

“All of these failures piled up,” she said. “I somehow survived a grim reality that was so bleak.”

Going forward, Heise hopes to work with teenagers as a way to give back to those professionals who helped her.

“Instead of letting my past mistakes define me, they now influence who I am today,” she shared.

As part of the ceremony, 14 students were recognized for their achievements through the POWER Plus Program. These are former POWER participants who are now attending college classes or are currently employed as a result of completing the program.

“I felt my mind expanding and myself improving already during [new student] orientation,” said POWER Plus participant Bob Maddox, who is enjoying his Spanish classes at MCCC and hopes to one day become a translator.

Associate Professor of Psychology and POWER Program Director Diane Haar presented a POWER Advocate Award to Nancy Wieman, who is retiring from her post as Deputy Administrator for Montgomery County’s Mental Health Services after 28 years.

“Nancy has been at the forefront of the mental health recovery movement, and as a result of her work, the County’s program is not only a model for the state, but also for the country.”

In addition to Haar, the College’s POWER team consists of Program Coordinator/Advisor Lisa Barbiero, Community Liaison/Advisor Lori Schreiber, Peer Mentor George Rohde, Administrative Coordinator Dianne Johnson, Faculty Rose Regan, and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

Montgomery County Community College and the Office of Montgomery County Behavioral Health/Development Disabilities provide funding for POWER and POWER Plus Programs, which also receive support from the Huston Foundation, Patricia Kind Foundation, the OddFellows of Philadelphia and other private foundations. However, the programs are in need of funding to continue next year.

Individuals interested in the POWER program may obtain a referral from their mental health or school provider or may self-refer.  For more information, contact Community Liaison Lori Schreiber at 215-461-1151 or lschreib@mc3.edu or Program Advisor Lisa Barbiero at 215-641-6425 or lbarbier@mc3.edu.

POWER and POWER Plus Program participants and staff at April 2014 graduation ceremony.  Photo by Sandi Yanisko

POWER and POWER Plus Program participants and staff at April 2014 graduation ceremony. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

34 Cadets Graduate from Municipal Police Academy

by Alana J. Mauger

Thirty-four cadets graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy Class 1304 on March 26 during a ceremony held at the College’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

Academy alumnus Wayne T. Johnson, Deputy Sheriff with Chester County Sherriff’s Department, sang the National Anthem to begin the ceremony, followed by a moment of reflection from Director of Criminal Justice & Fire Science Programs Benn Prybutok. The Philadelphia Police Department Honor Guard and the Philadelphia Emerald Society Pipe Band led the procession.

Patrol Commander Darren Nyce from Upper Dublin Township Police Department was selected by class 1304 to give the keynote address, during which he stressed the importance of preparation.

“Prepare for opportunity, [so that you’re] ready for opportunity when it comes. Being prepared to do the right thing at the right moment takes tremendous heart, courage and perseverance, and, at times, great sacrifice,” shared Nyce, who is an alumnus of the Academy as well as an instructor.

Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., County Deputy Chief Detective Samuel Gallen, and County Coordinator of School Safety Steven A. Beck were also in attendance, along with representatives from Tredyffrin, Upper Darby, Upper Merion, Upper Moreland and Whitpain police departments and the FBI.

Earning the highest GPA in his class, Cadet Cpl. Jason Kesack, Lansdale, offered remarks on behalf of the graduates.

“I think love is probably the most important thing, not only in police work but in life in general,” he shared. “It’s about community policing and how you interact with the people around you. Everyone is someone’s mother, someone’s brother. I think it’s important that we remember that golden rule—that we should treat people the way we would want our families treated.”

Academy Director Frank Williar presented Cadet Lt. Laina Stevens, Philadelphia, with the Platoon Commander Award, describing her as “a breath of fresh air.” Stevens, who is now an officer with the Upper Darby Police Department, then ceremonially handed Academy command over to Class 1401 Cadet Lt. Andrew Burrows, Doylestown.

Williar also presented the Director’s Spirit of Distinction Award to Cadet Cpl. James Apgar, Frenchtown, N.J., adding that the award goes to “the MVP of the group; to an individual whose personality is instrumental in making the class what it is.”

Stevens presented the James R. Miller Marksmanship Award to Eric Meoli, Lansdale. The award is presented in memory of Upper Dublin Police Sergeant Jim Miller, who died in an automobile accident while on duty in 2004.

During the ceremony, members of the McGowan family—Karen and her sons Scott and John McGowan IV, presented the Chief John J. McGowan III Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $3,500 to Robert Calvin Wiley, Willow Grove. The scholarship honors the late East Norriton Police Chief John McGowan, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2010. Wiley thanked the McGowan family for the honor, adding that he will use the scholarship to continue his education in MCCC’s Criminal Justice program in the fall.

Cadets from class 1304 attended the academy full time, Monday through Friday for 22 weeks. Graduates include Cadet Cpl. James Apgar, Frenchtown, N.J.; Ryan Benner, Drexel Hill; Steve Berg, Levittown; Cadet Sgt. Andrew Brown, Exton; Cadet Sgt. Michael Cabry, Coatesville; Michael Carlson, Elkins Park; Liz Cartwright, Telford; Timothy Clark, Abington; Amber Culton, Quakertown; Zachary Danowski, Skippack; Kevin Deegan, Downington; James Falatovich, Birdsboro; Cadet SSgt. Evan Flora, Collegeville; Jarett Gordon, Collegeville; Patrick Halcovage, Hatfield; Jonathan Huber, Souderton; Cadet Cpl. Jason Kesack, Lansdale; Patrick Kitchenman, Levittown; Cadet Cpl. John Kreuer, Ephrata; Kevin Lowry, Willow Grove; Brett Mackow, Green Lane; Eric Meoli, Lansdale; Jay Nakahara, Allentown; Nicholas O’Connor, Conshohocken; David Pagan, Philadelphia; Stephen Romanic, Coopersburg; Cadet SSgt. David Rosenblit, Philadelphia; Cadet Sgt. Nicholas Ruud, Doylestown; Kathleen Ryan, Horsham; Alex Sansone, Huntingdon Valley; Cadet Lt. Laina Stevens, Philadelphia; Ryan Umberger, Bristol, Gabriel Wasserman, Ambler; Calvin Wiley, Willow Grove.

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.

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Class 1304 graduates are congratulated by Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., MCCC Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, and MCCC Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman. Photo by John Welsh