Coconino Community College President Colleen Smith is hoping that the public listening session at Killip Elementary School on Dec. 5 will be as popular as some of the other sessions she’s held around the county. The listening session will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Killip, 2300 E. Sixth Ave.

Smith said the listening sessions are not connected with a possible bond or override on the November 2018 ballot. In fact, CCC’s Governing Board has not made a decision yet on whether or not it will ask voters to approve a bond or override, she said.

The listening sessions are designed to be a way to reach out to different parts of the community that is served by CCC, Smith said. She’s been holding the sessions since she took office in February 2016, meeting with various groups as well as hosting one-on-one sessions with some local leaders.

“Our mission is to serve our communities,” she said.

More recently she’s been on the road visiting various communities and talking to residents around Coconino County about their experience with CCC. Smith said she’s seeking information on what residents think of the community college, what they like and don’t like, and what they would like to see at the community college. So far the listening sessions have been a success.

“We’re hearing from people that we don’t normally hear from,” Smith said. Each listening session, including those in rural areas such as Page and Doney Park, have brought in 20 to 30 people asking questions and providing suggestions.

Smith typically introduces herself and staff at each session then turns things over to Kerry Blume, who moderates the rest of the meeting. Blume is the one who asks questions and collects suggestions from session visitors, Smith said.

Each session and community has had its own take on things, she said. But some of the common themes that come up are offering more classes in workforce training and continuing education, and more classes on early childhood education. There has also been interest in lifelong learning classes classes that aren’t necessarily taken for a grade or a degree, Smith said.

Smith said that she hopes to finish this round of listening sessions by mid-December. The information gathered will be used to improve things at the college and try and meet the community’s needs and wants, she said. It will also be used to revise CCC’s vision statement and eventually the community college’s strategic plan in 2020.

Smith plans to continue holding the sessions every two years to make sure CCC is up-to-date on what the community wants and needs.

Any community groups interested in hosting a listening session can do so by contacting April Sandoval at (928) 226-4217 or April.Sandoval@coconino.edu.

The reporter can be reached at sadams@azdailysun.com or (928)556-2253.

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Suzanne writes about education and business. She covers the local school district, charter schools and Northern Arizona University. She also writes the Sunday business features.

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