May Good News

Photo of a student wearing graduation robes on a stage.
Rebecca A. Eckland

TMCC’s Award-Winning ABE Program Wins Grant

The Adult Basic Education (ABE) Program helps students to overcome language and educational barriers that keep them from obtaining the professions and careers of their dreams. Recently, the ABE program was recognized for the amazing work it does by receiving the $1.6 million Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Title II Adult Education, and Family Literacy Act Grant.

The grant will enable the ABE program to continue offering its core services to participants at no cost. These services include English learner classes, adult literacy classes, high school equivalency (HSE) preparation classes, and citizenship preparation classes. Once participants are enrolled in any of these services, they are also eligible to participate in ABE Tutoring, College and Career Transition Support Services, tuition assistance, and workshops in digital literacy, reading, writing, listening, and speaking for no cost. Scholarships are available for HSE graduates to cover the cost of tuition of college in their first semester after graduating for up to 15 credits. The program also provides students enrolled in the HSE program—who are not typically eligible for Pell grants because they do not have a high school diploma—to have that requirement waived so they can apply if they meet all other financial aid requirements.

The grant is also allowing this incredible program to expand some of its services. “We will implement an instructor-led, distance learning program,” said ABE Program Director Cynthia Pierrott. “We’re hoping to be able to fully serve all of Washoe County, particularly the rural and tribal communities. We are also going to develop an HSE preparation program for non-native English speakers and an instructor-led distance learning for English language learner classes, and integrated education and training programs.” 

TMCC’s ABE Program has been serving the adult literacy needs in Washoe County since 1979. “Our primary focus is to empower our students to achieve their educational, professional, and personal goals,” said Pierrott. “In addition to serving the community directly, we can also help serve the needs of employers by way of free workplace English classes for their non-native English speakers.” 

The program also partners with Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada to offer free citizenship and naturalization education services. TMCC offers Citizenship Preparation classes and the Catholic Charities offers naturalization eligibility screening, application preparation, and application filing assistance to legal permanent residents.

"I was thrilled to get the news that TMCC Adult Basic Education received a new grant to continue the amazing work that this department has done for over three decades,” said Dean Amy Williams.  “TMCC's ABE program is recognized throughout the United States as having best practices and being on the cutting edge of new initiatives that are effective in adult education. Our program does amazing work with English language learners, students seeking their high school equivalency, and adults needing basic literacy skills.  I am so thankful that this good work will continue with this new grant."

TMCC Faculty, Staff and Family Make Masks

This semester, several TMCC faculty and staff—along with their families—have been doing what they can to help our community during the COVID pandemic by putting their creative skills to use making fabric face coverings, which are sustainable, reusable protection for everyone who needs to be out in public. 

“It was my OMG quarantine project,” said Career Hub Program Manager Sidney Sullivan. “I needed a way to help that wouldn’t put my family in jeopardy.” Sullivan started making masks for her family, friends, neighbors, the employees who work at the grocery store where she shops, and hospital workers, to name a few. 

These days, Sullivan (who is assisted by her husband and son) is making masks for anyone who needs or wants one, and only asks for a donation so that she can buy the fabric to continue to make the face coverings. “It’s my way of helping people to stay safe,” she said.  Sullivans’ masks run the gamut of designs, featuring fabric with patterns of honeybees, strawberries, watermelons, puppies, bacon—even the Seattle Seahawks.  She has also made masks that include an additional layer of “interfacing fabric” for people who will wear the masks in higher-risk environments. 

Testing Services Manager Helen Scott has also been making masks, thanks to Sullivan who forwarded her the information for a group of local mask-makers on Facebook. “I joined the group and went and picked up several kits that provided instructions and supplies to make the masks,” said Scott, who admits that giving back to the community is a personal passion. “It really has been a morale booster as well as a distraction to all of the negative influences that are occurring in our lives today.” Scott has been joined by her 6-year-old grandson, Kaden who helps to cut, sew, and assemble the masks. That, she said has been an unexpected reward. 

Girl scout wearing a homemade cloth mask.

TMCC Biology Professor Amy Cavanaugh and her daughter are making masks for local homeless shelters as a part of a service project for the Girl Scouts.

Biology Professor Amy Cavanaugh and her daughter have also been busy making masks for the local chapter of the Volunteers of America (VOA). The Northern California and Northern Nevada VOA, which was founded in 1911, operates more than 40 social services programs in the area, including housing, employment services, substance abuse and recovery services for families, individuals, veterans, seniors, and youth. 

The masks are a part of Cavanaugh’s daughter’s Girl Scout Service Project.  “It’s not a huge operation, and we have only made a dozen masks so far,” said Cavanaugh, who said they started making masks when her daughter’s original idea—making blankets for the homeless shelters— wasn’t a viable project since the VOA is not currently accepting blankets.  The mask-making project is the final step of the Girl Scouts’ “Change It” Leadership journey, which encourages participants to “take action to improve their communities and the world.” 

Although the production of masks has slowed as a result of homework (and home-schooling), the project provides a fun distraction that utilizes creativity to give back to our community in a meaningful way.

If you’re looking for a way to get involved, the local Facebook mask-making group called the “Homemade Mask Committee for COVID-19” is looking for other community members to join and to continue to make fabric masks. The group is open to anyone who wants to make masks and is filled with useful information such as approved patterns for hospitals, tips and tricks, and a community of men and women doing what they can to help us all stay healthy and safe.

TMCC Paralegal Instructor Published in Northeastern University Law Review

Steven M. Silva, Esq. is a part-time instructor in the Paralegal/Law Program, who recently published an article in the Northeastern University Law Review that details the legal subtleties when it comes to government regulation of property for the public good.  

“In the early phases of the lockdowns, there was a lot of discussion in legal circles about the constitutional implications of the shutdowns,” said Silva. “As it happens, my law practice is in eminent domain, government powers, and constitutional law.”  Silva frequently publishes his work in practical publications, and he’s also a chapter author for the Nevada Civil Practice Manual and the Nevada Appellate Practice Manual—so writing about sometimes complicated and always interesting legal issues is just a part of Silva’s life as a working lawyer and as an academic.

When the Northwestern Law Review put out a call for submissions on topics related to COVID-19,  Silva responded with an article explaining that pandemics create tension between individual liberty and coordinated efforts to contain communicable disease. “...In our country's history, we've seen pandemics like this before... But since these outbreaks don't happen very often, we lose our cultural memory of how the law dealt with it last time.  The law, thankfully, has taken a balanced approach historically giving the government sufficient leeway to effectively respond to disease, while also protecting individual's liberties and rights.”  

In addition to teaching for TMCC’s Paralegal/Law program, Silva is a partner at Blanchard, Krasner & French, APC practicing extensively in eminent domain litigation in Nevada and California representing both government entities and landowners. He has also served as a staff attorney at the Nevada Supreme Court. He was also recently been awarded a 2020 Part-time Excellence in Teaching Award.