I met Ann Bonney through my membership in the Manchester Commmunity College Organization of Active Adults. The organization which is open to area residents 50 years of age and older, offers partial tuition rebates to members to encourage life-long learning. Ann agreed to share her thoughts about credit-free programs with Manchester Patch.
Timothy Becker: Ann, what are credit-free programs and why does Manchester Community College offer these courses?
Ann Bonney: The mission of Manchester Community College is to serve the community. Life-long learning is important to our whole community. There is a larger segment of the population that is interested in credit-free programs than in regular college courses. Our credit-free courses are a mix of personal enrichment and professional development.
Timothy Becker: What are the main differences with credit and credit-free courses?
Ann Bonney: There is a fine line between what courses are for credit and credit-free courses. The credit-free courses tend to be more hands-on learning of practical skills rather than theory and research. For example a person studying to become a registered nurse would take credit courses. A person studying to become a certified nurse's aid would take credit free courses.
Timothy Becker: What courses are most popular?
Ann Bonney: Courses to help small businesses with social media and their on-line presence have become very popular. Courses that teach computer skills have always been popular for every profession. Some of the the art courses now use technology. There is also a strong interest in allied health professions such as training for EMTs, phlebotomy technicians, and pharmacy technicians.
Timothy Becker: What type of personal enrichment courses are offered?
Ann Bonney: We offer courses in meditation, Yoga, traditional Chinese medicine, QiGong, message, Reiki, stress management, emotional freedom techniques, and aroma therapy.
Timothy Becker: Are you always searching for new instructors?
Ann Bonney: Yes, we look for instructors that are well qualified and have a masters degree. We try to offer 25-30% new courses in every catalog.
Timothy Becker: How did you get appointed to the position of Director of Credit-Free Programs?
Ann Bonney: Previously I was in charge of parent education at Manchester Hospital for 17 years. I did health education with pediatric patients and their families. Then, I administered a grant for the Town of Manchester Health Department on youth violence prevention. After that, I was the Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Mental Health Clinics for Children for five years. I had taken credit-free courses at MCC, and when I saw the position advertised, I applied and I was interviewed by a panel of MCC staff, the Academic Dean and the President of the College and I was hired.
Timothy Becker: How do you get the word out about all the great course offering that are availble each semester?
Ann Bonney: We print 55-65,000 catalogs each quarter. In addition to direct mail, the catalogs are available at Town Halls and libraries in the 15 Town area. People also find us on line:http://www.mcc.commnet.edu/students/resources/catalog.php We want to expand the learning opportunities to the whole region that we serve.