Students, staff ecstatic – and surprised – that extension center has reopened
By Kelly Bracha
When Washtenaw Community College’s Hartland extension center closed last August, staff members, residents of the community and students were more than disappointed.
“We were in an uproar,” said Sandra Hootman, a member of the support staff. “Some of the staff were lucky and got sent to Brighton. We never found out what the reason for the closure was. The community went nuts.”
“Brighton is really nice, but I had something started here at Hartland… and it felt like home.”
Brighton is one of WCC’s off-campus extension centers located within Livingston county.
When Hootman was transferred to Brighton, her hours were cut due to the center’s limited class schedule.
“Brighton doesn’t open until the afternoon… I am paid hourly. It was a trying time,” said Hootman. “When we found out Hartland was back, we were ecstatic. We’re very happy. We love Hartland.”
But for reasons unexplained, many WCC students weren’t aware of Hartland’s reopening.
“We’re getting 35 walk-ins and over 50 calls a week,” Hootman said. “People are so happy we’re back, but they are saying they didn’t even know we were here.”
Some of Hartland’s major appeals are its variety of classes, widely available parking and its nursing courses.
“There’s a tremendous need for nursing classes in this area,” said Nursing Skills instructor Cynthia Brown. “There are several skilled-nursing facilities in the area that depend on us to provide skilled candidates.”
At one point, there were 15 nursing job openings at a single nearby facility.
The nursing prerequisite class consists of 18 class sessions over the course of three and a half weeks. Once students complete the program, they take the state exam and may become a certified skilled nurse.
“We have capacity for 16 students in each class session,” Brown said. “We typically see two types of students in the classroom: The ones that just need their nursing requirements and those people that really need a job.”
Once certified, nurses can double their wage and have a position that provides health benefits.
There remain many seats available for upcoming prerequisite nursing classes in November and December, center officials said.
Since WCC’s nursing classes fill up rapidly, students like Flavia Kocibelli are glad that there’s an alternative to waiting for more available classes to open up or for sitting out an entire semester to try and register again.
“I tried to go to Washtenaw’s main campus because I lived 15 minutes away, but they were full. Fortunately they had classes here,” said Kocibelli, a 17-year-old Saline resident.
“The parking is also so much easier here,” she said. “I had to get dropped off when attending WCC because parking was just so bad there.”
Many of Hartland’s faculty members were left in the dark as to why Hartland was closed in the first place.
“It was a decision at a very high level. I don’t know what former President Larry Whitworth’s reasoning was,” said Gayann Harris, dean of distance learning.
“All I know is that’s what he decided to do. It was fast and quick,” said Harris. “But I see the need here. That’s why we’re back.”
The Hartland Center offers classes during the day and evening. The center is open from Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.