Human Relations Awareness Course Recognized

June 2, 2022

Portraits of six womenCentral Community College is one of 32 winners of the 2021-22 Innovation of the Year Award by the League for Innovation in the Community College.

CCC won the award for the creation of an accelerated Human Relations Awareness course, a required course for Nebraskans wanting to be a substitute teacher. The course had been available at other Nebraska colleges and universities as a three-credit semester-long course. In 2020, when the need for substitute teachers reached a critical level, CCC’s faculty resource center (FRC) responded by quickly creating a two-week, one-credit course with an online delivery. Since the course was first offered, more than 1,000 people have taken it.

In announcing the awards, the League for Innovation in the Community College cited Abie Ott (top right), FRC director; Dr. Amy Mancini (top center), CCC dean of academic education; Lauren Slaughter (bottom center), CCC equity and compliance manager; and FRC instructional design consultants Elizabeth Anson (top left), Danielle Schwinn (bottom left) and Tracy Watts (bottom right), for creating and implementing the project.

“We are honored and pleased that this important work has been recognized with an Innovation of the Year Award,” said Ott. “The Human Relations Awareness course has proven to be a quality, impactful and cost- and time-effective offering designed to help students develop an understanding of and appreciation for others. While the original intent was to provide required training to address the substitute teacher shortage during COVID, the course has evolved into an engaging experience, suitable for anyone who works in the broader human services field.”

The course is broken down into four areas of study. The first looks at the history of a pluralistic society, followed by a comprehensive look at bias. The third and fourth areas ask the questions, “How does this affect the students,” and “How do we foster a sensitive environment?” With an online delivery, the course is available at any time convenient to the student and the cost is only $107.

“I am thoroughly impressed by the progress the students in this course make in two weeks,” said Kyle Sterner, CCC’s associate dean of academic education and who is one of the course instructors. “The curriculum is timely and the professionals who complete the course are more apt to contribute to a positive learning environment in our schools and communities.”

The reaction of Nebraska school superintendents and administrators has also been positive. Some have even asked if they could pay the fee for their para-educators to take the course and CCC has made the necessary arrangements.

“The human relations course offered by CCC has significantly helped with our substitute teacher shortage,” said Amy Haynes, Columbus Middle School principal. “The course not only affords the necessary requirement for certification; more importantly, it provides training to help ensure our subs feel confident when they step into the classroom to teach. We appreciate the efforts by CCC to alleviate our substitute teacher shortage.”