Wednesday, August 27, 2014

INBODY: Plenty of reasons to give thanks

By BRIAN INBODY, Neosho County Community College | 11/26/2013

It’s Thanksgiving again. And no, it is not pre-Christmas.

At the Inbody household, we are not allowed to watch Christmas movies, sing holiday songs or put up any decorations until the day after Thanksgiving.  Pundits on TV news often talk about the “War on Christmas,” but I think Thanksgiving is the one that has been truly decimated ... by Christmas. The Turkey Brigade already has flown the white flag in that war and Santa has declared victory.

It’s Thanksgiving again. And no, it is not pre-Christmas.

At the Inbody household, we are not allowed to watch Christmas movies, sing holiday songs or put up any decorations until the day after Thanksgiving.  Pundits on TV news often talk about the “War on Christmas,” but I think Thanksgiving is the one that has been truly decimated ... by Christmas. The Turkey Brigade already has flown the white flag in that war and Santa has declared victory.

If you know me, you know I love the Christmas season, but holiday commercials in October? Come on! Halloween, you better start building up the defenses. You’re next, pal. The reindeer are on the march, and they are hungry for candy corn.  

OK. Rant over. I really do enjoy Thanksgiving, and not just the family, food and football (the order depends on who’s playing or coming over). It’s a great time to be thankful for all of the great things in your life.

As president of Neosho County Community College, I have had some wonderful things for which to be thankful this year. Neosho recently measured itself against more than 300 other community colleges in the country through the National Community College Benchmarking Project. The study compares Neosho on all kinds of factors including pass rates and course completion. I am very proud our college scored in the highest category possible in the study — the top 15 percent — for retention of students and degree completion.

This evidence was confirmed by a new measure the Kansas Board of Regents is using called “Student Success Index.” Basically, this score measures how many of your students had a positive ending to their time at our college. Those who are still enrolled, got a degree/certificate, enrolled in a four-year college or completed a four-year degree are counted in the college’s favor. Those who drop out are not. Neosho had a score of 73 percent on the first look at this new metric. It’s quite a feat.

Our students are staying in school and completing at a tremendous rate. I am so thankful to our faculty and staff who helped Neosho reach this incredible level of success. They have done such an excellent job.

In Ottawa, if our fourth annual scholarship gala goes well, we will have raised enough through the galas to endow a new scholarship for the campus. Thanks in advance for that wonderful gift.

I am thankful for the leadership of the Neosho board of trustees who had the foresight and drive to be the best college we can be to continue with our facilities master plan. Let me just say the board gives so much of their time, talent and energy to the college in the course of a year. They truly make a difference in so many lives to the people of Neosho, Franklin and Anderson Counties and well beyond.  

I am thankful to the Kansas Legislature for passing and to Gov. Brownback for signing Senate Bill 155, which effectively pays for the tuition costs of high school students concurrently enrolled in technical education courses through their local community college. We have seen a tremendous increase in technical education enrollment thanks to SB 155 and, more importantly, new opportunities arising in school districts across our service area and beyond.  There are many good-paying jobs out there if the prospective employee has technical skills. Studies show that if a person holds a certification in an occupational area of study, their chances of ever being on government assistance drops dramatically. That one bill and the $12 million the State of Kansas put toward technical education already have impacted thousands of students across the state and in our service area. It means employment for lots of Kansans and less people on assistance. I am very thankful that in an era of cutbacks and “starving the government” our elected officials had the courage to craft something new that is going to help so many.

Back to home and the holidays, Virtual Santa should make another appearance the day after Thanksgiving in the front room window of the Inbody house. Last year, we got a letter to Santa in our mail slot from a little girl who thought St. Nick lived at our house on Eighth Street in Chanute, thanks to Virtual Santa. We had a lot of fun replying to that letter, so this year we have added a “Letters to Santa” mailbox for anyone else who might like to drop off a list or letter.   

This year, we are playing host to a Thanksgiving dinner for family. We’ll have a house full of relatives and I’m making the turkey. With all the preparations, cooking and visiting, I hope I don’t forget to say thanks for everything good in my life — chief among them my wife, Jennifer, and my girls Abrielle and Alayna. I also am thankful for the wonderful communities of our service area that give true meaning to the phrase “quality of life.”

From the Inbodys to you and yours, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Brian Inbody is Neosho County Community College president. Email him at binbody@neosho.edu

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