Today was an emotional day for our Computer Skills graduates. Out of the seven, three gained employment and one cried today during the graduation celebration, saying she was proud of herself for finishing LEED Council’s challenging class, which teaches typing skills and focuses on Microsoft Office 2010. What made this class unique was two of our part time trainers, Angelic Phillips and Kathy Price, taught the class for the first time – and they received accolades from our students for their persistence and dedication to helping the students get the skills they needed from the class.
This is part of a monthly series LEED Council created with Danny Shields, Associate Director of Computer Skills, and some of his students. In addition to this series, we are highlighting success stories of students who go through his classes on made-for-Web videos hosted on LEED Council’s YouTube channel and airing on Chicago Access Network Television. Off camera, Angela McLaurin, one of the interviewees we feature in this blog entry, told Danny, “I would’ve been lost in the dark without computer skills.”
Misty LeBlanc, LEED Council’s Green LEEDers Program Assistant
I came to LEED Council last January with intentions of integrating myself back into the workforce. I learned of LEED Council through my caseworker in the Humboldt Park DHS Office.
I started with the basic computer course, and then continued with advanced classes that included Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word. The training environment was ideal. I felt comfortable and I was constantly encouraged to push myself farther; to set goals and achieve them. It was a smaller classroom where I got a lot of “one-on-one” training and personal attention from Danny Shields and his volunteers. That aspect of the courses really helped me absorb what was being taught. I learned a multitude of technology-related things. I typed, I Google-ed, I use different social media platforms, and I feel extremely at ease working in the Microsoft applications Word and Excel. This is a far cry from the knowledge I started out with. I couldn’t imagine a productive life without it.
I would recommend all of these courses (basic and advanced) to anyone who hasn’t had any formal computer training—or to folks who are unemployed or under-employed. There is also a Job Readiness component to the basic Computer Skills Course. That is facilitated by Liliana Bradford, LEED Council’s Assistant Director Employment Specialist. So, not only are you learning computer fundamentals; you are actually being prepped to look for a job, sit for an interview and ultimately take the skills you’ve learned with you to use on the job. I feel starting with the Basic Computer courses should be a first step for those individuals who will seek out employment in office, front desk, cashier/customer service or hospitality and retail sector jobs. And for those who wanted to take a more advanced, rigorous course; I’d recommend Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
Along with gaining employment here at LEED Council, I’ve also recently passed my GED test. I plan to sit for the Microsoft Word Certification exam in April and eventually enroll in a degree program at a community college to obtain my Associate’s Degree. I enjoy the environment at LEED Council. The staff is down to earth and willing to help in any way they can. You can spend one day in Danny’s computer lab and witness how he and all the staff are passionate about empowering people.
LEED Council is the a great place to take computer courses whether your just beginning or contemplating becoming a trainer.
Angela McLaurin, Substance Abuse Counselor Intern, Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Program for Women
I graduated from LEED Council’s Computer Training Program in 2007. I am currently a Substance Abuse Counselor Intern at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Program for Women. I am also a student at Harold Washington College, soon to graduate with my A.A. degree in Addiction Studies. I was referred to LEED Council from Chicago House, a social service agency I was working with at the time. My case manager assured me that I would enhance my earning potential and expand my knowledge base greatly by attending this comprehensive computer training program, so I enrolled with much enthusiasm.
What I have now come to know is not only did I greatly upgrade my computer skills, I also gained more passion, drive and respect for the institution of learning. By my completion of the course, I was more determined to pursue and complete my educational goals.
In part, this feeling is greatly due to the positive and exhilarating learning experience I engaged in while as a student under Danny’s instruction. He possesses an innate ability to work with his students on simple and advanced computer skills, therefore leaving no one left behind. His excellent verbal and written communication skills enhance his teaching methodology. What I enjoyed most about my experience is the friendly and motivating encouragement I constantly received while a student at LEED Council. I was academically motivated to successful because of completing the computer course, but also in life itself. My learning experience at LEED Council was positively challenging and inspiring. To anyone seeking to broaden their knowledge base and greatly expand their employment options, I would definitely recommend taking this course. I feel very privileged, as well as honored, to be an alumnus of such a program!
Beverly Thomas, Administrative Assistant Coordinator
I was visiting the unemployment office and I saw a flyer with a LEED Council advertisement. LEED Council was offering so many free workshops, including computer classes. I took the class because I was unemployed, and every time I looked on the website for a job, it would say highly skilled and proficient in various software programs. I knew I needed to be more knowledgeable and skilled in computer technology.
Reflecting back on when I first started my class, I was so nervous and ashamed because I really didn’t know what was expected of me in class. I struggled a little bit in class; however, I began to slowly settle down. I must say with the help of my teacher and classmates, I felt more comfortable. During the course of the training, as I caught on more and more, I became more skilled when our teacher presented various projects, tests and homework to us.
What I got out of the class was being more marketable, confident and being able to pursue the type job I’m looking for in my field. While taking the class, I really enjoyed learning new programs and the various parts and functions of a computer, and how easy it is to open up your mind and learn new things.
I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to learn and update their computer skills, whether for an office environment or for home.
LEED Council is still looking to fill the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification for Word 2010 class. Fee for the class is $115 and fee for test is $115. If students make it through the entire class and test successfully, they’ll be reimbursed $57.50.
This powerful resume-building credential confers instant credibility with employers, colleagues and clients. 88% of managers surveyed said they would hire someone with the certification over someone without it.
In order to become certified, an individual must score 80% or higher on a rigorous exam.
Don’t delay—the training starts on Feb 14, 2012. Please spread the word.
The program is open to anyone 18 or older who is drug-free and sober and legally able to work in the U.S. But a solid grasp of computer fundamentals is required, and we require prospective trainees to pass a diagnostic test.
For more information, call—or have your clients call:
Ebony McLaurin, Client Services Associate, at 773-929-5552 ext. 228.
The Local Economic and Employment Development Council’s Workforce Development program not only provides job training; it provides training for trainers. Our Associate Director of Computer Skills, Danny Shields, has been working with two of his former students on just that. We are employing Angelic Phillips as a facilitator for various workshops we have been commissioned to teach at Marshall Field Garden Apartments.
Kathy Price has been employed to work with TranSteps, Step Out USA, an organization that empowers learning disable adults. Danny has been teaching the group for about a year, but now he’s pushing Kathy to apply the skills she learned to make her more employable. Danny believes that there is a critical market for effective trainers in today’s knowledge-based economy, which makes digital literacy an important tool for any employer.
We asked both Kathy and Angelic to share their experiences learning, growing and developing with LEED Council’s workforce training programs.
- What brought me to LEED Council is the fact that I was in desperate need of knowing how to work a computer. I saw this flyer at the unemployment office and called to find out about (LEED Council). I actually went to an interview to take a test for Microsoft Word and I had no idea what I was doing. That was a wake up call for me.
- The classes that I’ve taken are Basic Computer Skills, MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint for 2010. I have learned so much and have enjoyed taking each class.
- I would like to become a trainer because I enjoy going through the lessons and projects, and also I enjoy helping others. It would also reinforce everything that I had learned, so that months down the road I won’t forget. I want to work in an environment where these skills will be used all the time.
- My technology goals are to get certified in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and to move forward in the technology industry. Afterwards, I will move toward the A+ Certification.
- I’ve taken Microsoft Office classes in Word, Excel 2003 and Word, Excel and Powerpoint 2010.
- I have a certification in MOS Word, Excel 2003, and IC3 Key Applications.
- I am passionate about becoming a trainer because I like educating students and myself about technology.
- My goals are to become certified in MOS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2010 within the next few months. I’m currently enrolled in a A+ certification class at Wilbur Wright College.
Danny holds certifications in IC3, E-Business Train-the-Trainer, Business Architect, and Microsoft Office Specialist and has been developing curricula and providing computer skills training and leadership development training for the last 10 years, with a particular focus in not-for-profit communities.
Our Green LEEDers Transitional Jobs Program is an energy-wise social venture we are developing. This past year, our Green LEEDers crew worked on 11 home repair projects through the Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Department’s Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS) program. In October, staff and volunteers in our LEEDers for Training program launched a successful “Weatherize Logan Square” campaign, promoting our Green LEEDers service for home improvements. As a result, Green LEEDers is bidding work for more than 20 interested homeowners, and will be making more SARFS repairs in 2012.
Reggie Hamilton, 36, became one of our star Green LEEDers after taking Local Economic and Employment Development Council’s Home Performance: Green Carpentry and Weatherization class last winter. As a carpenter, he wanted to get ahead of the curve by learning greener techniques. He learned how to install solar panels, helped build an energy efficient house, and worked on a total of 15 projects this year. His first and most time-consuming project involved repairing a ceiling that had collapsed due to a water leak saturating the insulation in the home’s attic. “Being on the team made me feel good about the job I was doing, because it was with seniors who were in need,” Reggie said.
Misty LeBlanc, 32, is a testament to how LEED Council is making a difference in people’s lives by providing them with skills to market themselves in this tough economy. She was one of our computer graduates who became the Green LEEDers Program Assistant in late July. When she came to us in January, Misty was receiving welfare, raising a twelve-month-old daughter and could not find a job. Her caseworker suggested she take LEED Council’s seven-week Computer Skills Training program. “When I came here I had absolutely no computer skills,” Misty said. The program was challenging; but she stayed committed, accomplishing her goal to learn Microsoft Office. Our staff also helped her learn how to manage her finances, interview for jobs and work in a professional setting. Now as a Green LEEDer, she sees other students from underprivileged communities go through the program and get jobs. “People will help you here if you want to help yourself,” she said. “I came a long way. And LEED Council came to me with open arms.”
Stay tuned for more news about LEED Council making the green jobs connection.