Families invited to learn more about Kids at College summer program at Lee College

Annual Summer Preview Day on April 29 to include registration information, fun activities

BAYTOWN, TX — Families looking to keep their children and teenagers engaged, active and entertained this summer are invited for a sneak peek of the Kids at College program offered by the Lee College Center for Workforce and Community Development.

The third annual Kids at College Summer Preview Day is set for 9 a.m.-noon, Saturday, April 29, in the gymnasium on campus. The fun-filled event is free and open to the public, and will feature hands-on activities, interactive demonstrations and information sessions about dozens of educational, creative, career exploration and athletic camps and workshops designed for youth aged 5-17 years. Camps will run weekly from June 5 through August 17.

Kids at College options include everything from arts and crafts, culinary arts and theater production, to creative writing, private music and voice lessons, gaming, engineering, drafting and design, Minecraft, volleyball, basketball and more. Professional educators, artists and Lee College coaches and student-athletes teach the camps and classes, which will be held at the main campus in Baytown and the Lee College Education Center – South Liberty County.

Parents and families that attend Kids at College Summer Preview Day will be able to register for camps on the spot, enjoy prizes and giveaways and win vouchers to help pay for any applicable registration costs. For more information about Preview Day or the Kids at College program, contact the Center for Workforce and Community Development at 281.425.6311.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Foundation brings donors together with scholarship recipients

Six people posing, both donors and student recipients
Donors to the Lee College Foundation met the recipients of their scholarships Friday, April 7, 2017, at the 15th annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast. The annual gathering allows students to share with donors how their generosity has made a difference. Pictured from left: Louise Mann, donor; Drake Salinas, student; Nancy Mann, donor; Denia Aleman, student; Michael Mann, donor; and Claudia Wyles, representing corporate donor Community Resource Credit Union.

For the individuals and businesses that donate to the Lee College Foundation, there is no greater proof of the positive impact of their generosity than meeting and hearing the stories of students awarded tuition and textbook scholarships.

Students like Maryori Portillo, a first-generation college student and recipient of the Wallace Heaner Tuition Scholarship and John and Stella Pepper Textbook Scholarship who had children at a young age and dropped out of high school. After earning her GED and experiencing difficulties in her first try at higher education, Portillo came to Lee College and enrolled in two classes: English and speech. Instructors recognized she had special talent, but the cost of out-of-district tuition and other expenses nearly forced her to quit school after just one semester.

“They immediately saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself and introduced me to the Honors Program,” Portillo shared April 7 at the 15th annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast, where donors connected with scholarship recipients and learned firsthand how the funds made a difference in their lives.

“Thanks to the scholarships, I was able to return to school,” she said. “I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to go to sleep without college tuition keeping you up at night. It’s a weight lifted off your shoulders and a worry gone. I would not be standing here without your help.”

Or students like Audra Smith, a process technology major and intern at Chevron Phillips Chemical who received a workforce scholarship from the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA). EHCMA donated $170,000 to Lee College this year for student scholarships and other support for craft and technology programs.

A donor and two students stand and pose.
The Lee College Foundation hosted a reception Tuesday, March 28, 2017, for students who received workforce scholarships from the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA) to meet managers and other personnel from the association’s member companies. EHCMA donated $170,000 to Lee College this year for student scholarships and other support for craft and technology programs. Pictured (l-r): Jarvis Booker, student; Bear Estrada of Ohmstede; and Tevin Goodman, student.

Just before she started classes, Smith lost her home to a fire and learned her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Four months into the program, her mother passed away – and soon after, so did her father and grandfather. Knowing she would not have to worry about paying for school helped her persist in the program despite her losses, determined to earn her degree and keep the promises she made to herself and her family.

“Workforce scholarships help us, as students, achieve our greatness,” Smith told managers and leaders from EHCMA’s member companies in late March at a student and donor networking reception hosted by the foundation. “By donating money for these scholarships, you all are changing lives every day.”

Under the leadership of its Board of Directors, the Lee College Foundation has raised outside funds since 1968 to provide for student needs. The fund balance for the foundation now exceeds $10 million and all students are eligible to receive scholarships — those pursuing academic and technical degrees, as well as those enrolled full-time, part-time, in dual-credit classes for high-school students to earn college credits, in non-credit classes offered by the Center for Workforce and Community Development, and in the Lee College Huntsville Center prison program.

Although the foundation has historically focused on accepting scholarship funds, board members consider other worthwhile initiatives that directly affect student success and promote the student’s ability to reach their education goals. To that end, tax-deductible contributions from industry and private donors also support the Student Success Fund, created to help those facing extraordinary circumstances pay for college-related expenses that might otherwise derail their journey.

“One of the most heartwarming things about Lee College is knowing how much this community loves this institution,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “The consistent outpouring of generosity helps ensure students can do the three most important things: enroll, persist and graduate. We want them to get here, stay here and leave here with a degree.”

For more information about donating to the Lee College Foundation, contact Executive Director  Pam Warford at 281.425.6361 or pwarford@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College Vice President Debi Jordan to retire in January 2017

Debi Jordan and the Lee College leadership
Debi Jordan, second from the left, with Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College’s Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) 2016 scholarship recipients, Executive Vice President Dr. Christina Ponce and CCPI Grant Coordinator Kelly Dando at the 2016 CCPI Scholarship Reception. Jordan will retire from her position as Vice President of Workforce and Corporate Partnerships in January 2017.

BAYTOWN, TX When Debi Jordan was given the task of researching self-sustaining training programs at community colleges in 2005, she had no idea where it would end up. Seven years later, Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown and its Board of Regents gave the go-ahead to launch the Lee College Center for Workforce and Community Development, and after a nationwide search, Jordan was selected to lead.

Now Jordan, the Vice President of Workforce and Corporate Partnerships, is ready to experience another new chapter: retirement. Jordan’s daughter is expecting a little girl in December, and she said though the decision was difficult, it became much easier with each ultrasound she saw.

“Being able to watch my daughter becoming a mom to her own daughter — it is coming full circle. I feel so blessed to have had such a great career, and Lee College really is my home,” Jordan said. “But this next part of my life feels so natural. With the help of a lot of great people, I believe this center — my third child — is in a great place. The foundation is stable, and under new leadership it’s poised to move to the next level. I’m ready to be a BeBe to my sweet Ella Rae, and to watch the center continue to grow.”

Over the past four years, the center has hosted 1,710 classes, served 7,694 different students and boasts a total enrollment count of 17,559 thanks to repeat students.

“Lee College is full of great people and Debi definitely shines in that group,” said Executive Vice President Dr. Christina Ponce. “She is one of the most professional, dedicated and hard-working individuals I have ever met. She has made such a tremendous difference not only at Lee College’s Center for Workforce and Community Development, but the entire community and the college as a whole. She is extremely loved and appreciated in our community for being an incredible civic oriented leader, a friend to all and a pioneer in workforce education. We are indebted to Debi for all she has been able to accomplish.”

Jordan helped establish and maintain partnerships with organizations like the Baytown/West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, East Harris County Manufacturers Association, Economic Alliance Houston Port Region and the Greater Houston Partnership, as well as industry partners such as ExxonMobil, ChevronPhillips Chemical, Enterprise Products, Covestro, Shell, Bechtel and Jacobs.

“ExxonMobil deeply appreciates the support that Debi Jordan has provided our company during her time at Lee College, especially regarding our Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) workforce development program,” said Connie Tilton of ExxonMobil Public and Government Affairs. “CCPI has been recognized across the state and nationally as a premiere program, and Debi’s leadership and vision has been the driving force behind it. Our workforce and community are better due to her dedication and hard work. Debi is leaving a legacy at Lee College, and it’s been our honor and privilege to work with her.”

Pam Warford, Executive Director of the Lee College Foundation, Director of Foundation and Donor Relations and a lifelong friend, described Jordan’s contributions to the college as intangible.

“She has increased our reach through relationships with individuals, organizations and consortiums.  These relationships have benefited the college in a huge way,” Warford said. “In addition, she has worked hard to bring the types of courses to Lee College that our partners in the industry have asked for — customized, fast-tracked training.”

Jordan helped organize and lead ExxonMobil’s initial $500,000 grant that established the CCPI. The grant, which has since increased to a total of total of $1.8 million, funds workforce development for the Houston-area petrochemical industry through nine local community colleges.

“Debi has been a unique asset to Lee College, and though we’re happy for her next chapter, we’re deeply saddened about losing her. Her networking skills, business acumen and passion for improving the lives of those around her will be missed,” Brown said. “We will conduct a national search for her replacement.”

In the interim, leadership of regional workforce initiatives will transition to Ponce. The Center’s leadership, which includes Interim Director of Corporate Services Marsha Tuha, Community Education Director Kimberlee Techeira and Business Operations Manager Delma Garcia, will lead the teams and day-to-day operations of the center under Ponce’s direction.

“I’ve known Debi for 10 years, and we’ve worked together for four years. I was a part of the center’s team when it began, so I’ve had a unique opportunity to witness and be part of the great things she’s done. She’s a special person to work for, because she’s so passionate and skilled at what she does. She isn’t just a boss, she’s a leader with a big heart,” Tuha said. “I’m happy that she’ll be able to spend time with her new grandbaby, but I’m definitely going to miss her. We all are.”

Jordan’s retirement is effective Jan. 1, 2017. She has also been a partner in an independent insurance agency in West Texas for nearly 30 years. She is a licensed agent, and plans on becoming more involved in the business.

Lee College thanks Jordan for her dedication & long-lasting impact in the community and workforce training.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Open house June 11 at Lee College Education Center — South Liberty County

Community invited to discover all the programs & services the new campus has to offer

BAYTOWN, TX – Lee College invites the community to a free open house at the new Lee College Education Center — South Liberty County to explore the campus and learn more about the classes, camps, and programs offered there.

The open house will be held 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, June 11, at the education center at 1715 Highway 146 Bypass in Liberty. Participants will enjoy free food, giveaways, raffle drawings, and the chance to meet the Runnin’ Rebels basketball team. Get important information about how to begin the enrollment and registration process for credit and non-credit classes, community education courses, summer camps, teaching opportunities, and more available at the center this summer and fall.

Representatives from Lee College academic and technical programs and the offices of Outreach and Recruitment, Student Career and Employment and Student Success will be available to answer questions and share details about resources and services. Prospective students can learn which college courses and degree programs they can take at the South Liberty County education center, and parents can learn more about the Dual-Credit Institute, which allows students in five neighboring school districts — Anahuac, Dayton, Liberty, Hardin and Hull-Daisetta — to earn a college credential by the time they graduate from high school.

The Lee College Education Center — South Liberty County opened in January to advance the college’s commitment to enhance the academic resources and workforce training offered throughout the region by providing a wide range of programs for students of all ages. Summer classes will begin June 20 and run through Aug. 12.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

First graduates complete Lee College ‘Ready to Work’ industrial training program

Grant-funded initiative prepares students for careers in the growing petrochemical industry

Lee College H1-B Ready to Work Grant graduates
The first graduates of the Lee College ‘Ready to Work’ grant program received certificates of completion in late April at the McNair Center. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Labor and targets the long-term unemployed and underemployed for petrochemical training. Back row (l-r) – Kevin Dorsey, Kyle Eubanks and Daniel Polen. Front row (l-r) – Kyle Thompson, Frank Bunton, instructor Robert Bernardino, Carlos Gonzales, Christopher Geant and Davidson Timothy.

BAYTOWN, TX — Kevin Dorsey was out of work and looking for a way to better support his family when a local employment resource agency pointed him toward the Center for Workforce and Community Development at Lee College, which offers an innovative program to help train the long-term unemployed and underemployed for petrochemical careers.

Through funding from the H1-B Gulf Coast Ready to Work Grant awarded to the college by the U.S. Department of Labor, the workforce center is providing industrial crafts training in several high-demand and high-growth fields: welding, electrical, millwright, instrumentation, pipefitting, process technology refresher, first-line supervisor and project management. Students learn from instructors with years of industry experience, using the latest tools of the trade and cutting-edge technology found in the real working environment.

Tuition in the H1-B Ready to Work program is free to eligible participants, and those who successfully complete the training earn credentials from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) recognized by companies throughout the petrochemical and construction industries.

When the first graduates from the H1-B pipefitting class received their certificates in April in a ceremony at the recently opened Lee College McNair Center, Dorsey was among them — and more hopeful than ever about his chances to find stable and well-paying employment.

“Pipefitting wasn’t even my first choice, but I stuck with it and really enjoyed it,” Dorsey said. “It’s a different skill set that not a lot of people have or can do. This program gave us the training to put us above other people applying for the same jobs.”

Debi Jordan, executive director of the workforce center, told the graduates that Lee College’s industry partners are awaiting candidates with the strong work ethic, knowledge and credentials they gained through completion of the H1-B Ready to Work program.

“You have been given the tools to get a very well-paying job and make a great career out of it,” Jordan said. “There is going to be something good out there for you.”

For more information about enrolling in the U.S. Department of Labor H1-B Gulf Coast Ready to Work Grant program at Lee College, contact the Center for Workforce and Community Development at 281.425.6311 or visit www.lee.edu/workforce/ready2work.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College & community celebrate new education center in South Liberty County

Ribbon-cutting ceremony marks expansion of higher education access in under-served area

Lee College Liberty Education Center 05/02/16.  (Photo by ©Kim Christensen)
Lee College Liberty Education Center 05/02/16. (Photo by ©Kim Christensen)

BAYTOWN, TX – The ribbon has officially been cut at the new Lee College Education Center – South Liberty County, which offers residents in the surrounding areas the chance to pursue a wide range of higher education opportunities right in their own backyard – from dual-credit classes for local high school students, to workforce and community education courses and corporate training for business and industry.

Dozens of local economic and education leaders, industry partners, friends and supporters joined Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown and other college administrators at the South Liberty County center on May 2 for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“As the institution of higher learning for more than 220,000 residents and 15 school districts, Lee College is commitment to bringing high-quality academic resources to all points of our service area,” Brown said. “We are grateful for the support and encouragement of the elected officials, economic development organizations, school superintendents and other leaders who joined with Lee College to bring the vision for this facility to life. Together, we have created a premiere education center that has been long overdue in this community.”

The Lee College Education Center – South Liberty County initially opened in January to further advance the college’s commitment to enhance the academic resources and workforce training offered throughout the region by providing a wide range of programming for students of all ages. The Dayton Community Development Corporation and Liberty Community Development Corporation each provided grants of more than $191,000 to help cover the costs of computers, lab equipment, technology, learning materials and other resources needed at the new facility. In addition, the Greater Texas Foundation invested more than $850,000 to help with seed funding for operational costs.

The center now hosts dual-credit classes that allow students in five neighboring school districts – Anahuac, Dayton, Liberty, Hardin and Hull-Daisetta – to earn a college credential by the time they graduate from high school. The Dual Credit Institute will offer coursework in the high-demand technical fields of process technology, electrical technology and computer-aided drafting and design, along with academic transfer courses.

The center will also provide nearby residents with a variety of workforce and community education courses, including an emergency medical technician program (pending state approval), classes for senior adults, enrichment courses and Kids at College summer camps. Business and industry can take advantage of the center for corporate training customized to fit their workforce development needs.

“For generations, Lee has facilitated outstanding and affordable education and training to our high school students and adults, and it is exciting to now have a Lee College center right here in South Liberty County,” said Dr. Cody Abshier, superintendent of the Liberty Independent School District, who spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony on behalf of all the district superintendents who were part of the project.

“Our residents need and deserve access to quality education and training that will improve their lives and the lives of their families, and that is exactly what this will provide,” Abshier said. “This new opportunity will have a significant impact on all of our local communities.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Registration open for ‘Kids at College’ summer camps & activities

Free Summer Preview Day on Saturday will showcase program offerings for kids 5-17

Kids at College activities
Lee College biology instructor Margene Lenamon (center) helps Kids at College participants analyze an x-ray of a human bone during the Forensic Science summer camp held in 2015. Registration is now open for the 2016 Kids at College program, which will include camps and courses at the main campus in Baytown and the Lee College Education Center – South Liberty County.

BAYTOWN, TX — Parents and guardians looking for ways to keep their children engaged and entertained this summer will find an array of camps, classes and activities in the “Kids at College” program at Lee College, which is now accepting registrations and gearing up for its second annual Summer Preview Day.

Kids at College Summer Preview Day will be held from 9 a.m.-noon, this Saturday, April 30, in the gymnasium on campus. The event is free and open to the public, and will include detailed information about program options in arts and crafts; career exploration; brain-training; athletics; cooking; science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM); and EnergyVenture. All camps and courses are designed for children and teens aged 5-17 years and will be held this year at both the main campus in Baytown, and the recently opened Lee College Education Center – South Liberty County.

Participants at Summer Preview Day will enjoy hands-on activities for the whole family, interactive demonstrations from camp instructors and fun prizes and giveaways throughout the morning. Parents can also sign up their children for Kids at College on the spot, and win vouchers to help pay for any applicable registration costs.

For more information about the Kids at College program or the second annual Summer Preview Day, contact the Center for Workforce and Community Development at 281.425.6311 or visit www.lee.edu/workforce.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.