Klauer Campus

Supporting education in tough times

By Bill Knief

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This column was originally going to be about the schedule of classes currently being offered by UNM-Taos for the summer ’08 session. Some courses started as early as June 9, but other shorter intensives have yet to begin, and enrollment for them will continue throughout the month. Anyone interested should consult the schedule of classes for times and locations, and call 737-6200 for more information.

But the article was started on an extraordinary day when the price of oil jumped almost $11.00 a barrel, the unemployment rate surged to 5.5% reflecting a net loss of 49,000 jobs—the “sharpest monthly spike in 22 years” according to the New York Times—and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped almost 400 points. It hit the ground like a stone.

It doesn’t take a mass media pundit to point out that these ominous indicators are a likely early warning of even tougher economic times to come. And without adequate job skills, certification and a high a level of post secondary education, local citizens young and old are going to be in deep trouble.

In this context, our branch college becomes quite a significant contributor to the economic health of the community.

It is a cause for celebration when our legislative delegation joins forces with the town, the county and El Valle de los Ranchos Sanitation District to direct millions of dollars into the infrastructure of the Klauer campus. It is good news when enrollment is up and the career tech building and early childhood development center are ready to open in the fall. But there are also daunting challenges that lie ahead, and we have to face them head on. A couple of examples:

With the stroke of a pen a successful nursing program was written off on the last day of the ’08 legislative session, and the struggle is on to revive that program and make it a permanent part of the UNM-Taos curriculum.

Thanks to the strong leadership of our legislative delegation, UNM-Taos was awarded 3.3 million dollars this year as part of the omnibus General Obligation Bond. But that bond comes up for a statewide vote in November, barely five months from now, and if the voters of New Mexico turn it down our classroom building will remain a useless shell.

What to do?

The bad news is that Councilman Gene Sanchez was right back in 2004 when he said that every candidate is a friend of education—until the day after the election; we can’t depend on promises and reassuring words to help us through hard times. The good news, however, is that we in the north have seasoned elected officials with long track records of small, in-the-trenches victories in the big fight for quality education.

In the final analysis it’s up to us as individuals, citizens and taxpayers to insist on having all the scholastic tools we need to get on with our lives, because the double helix of commerce and education has become the life’s blood of our communities. An education—a good education—is the birthright of all citizens, not just a privileged few with the skills, background or resources to succeed. We must support our local school districts and post secondary institutions with our voices, our votes and our personal contributions if we expect to reap the full benefits of a prosperous and meaningful future.

Now, about those summer classes.

The range of subject matter is tremendous, and when you think about it, whether a student just wants to get a difficult required class out of the way or indulge in a personal interest in a particular subject, the small class size and shortened sessions make summertime a great time to get the most out of your community college. Here are just a few of the offerings for late June and July that still have openings available:

English 432, Living Contemporary Writers. Thanks to a software glitch, there are still seats available in one of the most innovative classes of the summer. It’s an upper division course, but author and educator Sean Murphy will work with any student who wants to study contemporary literature and then share the classroom experience with the writers themselves. An opportunity not to be missed!

InDesign Quick Course, June 16-June 20. Anne-Marie Emanuelli, instructor. For professionals, designers, publishers and anyone wishing to learn Adobe InDesign CS3.

Basics of Service Learning, July 11-25. A learning strategy that empowers students to effectively address complex community problems.

Meditation and Creativity, Reiki I, Yoga for Personal Wellness and Myofascial and Skeletal—all courses offered by the Academy of Holistic Health and Healing Arts.

Spanish 101, June 9-July 4. Introduction to Spanish taught by James Martinez.

Yoga for Personal Wellness instructor Monique Parker is especially busy this summer. She is not only teaching English 101, she is also responsible for the one credit Yoga Therapy for Personal Wellness at the end of June, and The Yoga of Writing in July.

“Yoga Therapy for Personal Wellness is for anybody interested in wholeness and reintegration from the standpoint of having chronic stress, allergies, depression, anxiety and the like,” she maintains. “I cover as broad a spectrum as possible and explain yoga in terms of structural and functional issues in the body and the emotions. We try to understand how our daily habits affect our emotional state and lead to dis-ease, by applying an ancient discipline to a therapeutic model.

“In The Yoga of Writing we apply the same ancient discipline to a creative endeavor. A lot of creative people tend to rely on artificial stimulants to bring them back to that flow state, that creative place which is really a reintegration with their source. The problem is that using stimulants actually creates more fragmentation and a lack of integration in the individual. We use yoga techniques to bring us back in touch with our creative spirit and find our own authentic voice.

“I believe that education should be viewed as personal enrichment, whether you take a class as part of a degree program or audit it as a lifelong learner. Even when I am teaching an undergraduate prerequisite, I try to motivate and encourage my students to look at it as an investment in themselves. Because that’s what it’s all about: students improving themselves for their own future and the future of their families.”

About The Bill Knief

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