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​Juggling work, family responsibilities and online college classes challenged DART dispatcher Annette LeVine, but she kept at it with encouragement from her advisor.

​Contact: Debra Dennis or 214-378-1851

For immediate release — Dec. 12, 2016

(DALLAS) — After 16 years as a dispatcher for the Dallas public transit system, Annette LeVine found that promotions and enhanced job titles were out of reach.
A willing volunteer, she serves on the “Bereavement Team,” consoling fellow Dallas Area Rapid Transit workers and their families as they grieve the death of a loved one. Her caring disposition also led her to serve on the welcoming committee — extending hospitality to new DART workers.

But a promotion proved elusive.

“I love my job. It’s an important job. We talk to transit police and mechanics and drivers,” she said. “We keep track of what’s going on and if everybody is safe. We have to stay cool and calm. You have to be able to multi-task.”

But LeVine, 53, longs for more. She hopes to become a Dispatcher II, a position that requires a minimum of nine college hours. A promotion, while not guaranteed, would increase both her pay and her visibility. To get closer to her dream, LeVine enrolled in the online supervisor certificate program offered through Cedar Valley College.

“I never thought I would be going to college, but I need these credentials. I need to put this on my resume,” said LeVine, who has two grandchildren.

With the help of Innovate+Educate, a national nonprofit that focuses on skills-based employment opportunities, she added college courses to her already-busy schedule. LeVine is among 25 DART employees who signed up for the consortium’s pilot effort to train DART workers in supervisor skills. The first courses began this summer.

That certificate program has been nominated as a finalist for the 2017 Bellwether Award by the Bellwether College Consortium; the award honors innovative and effective higher education programs that other institutions can replicate to better serve students.

LeVine found the online courses convenient but difficult. With her computer on the blink, long hours at work and family challenges, she wanted to drop out. “I just couldn’t take it. I had too much going on, too much on my plate,” LeVine said. She called her advisor in tears.

But Dr. Diane Minger, the business management and marketing coordinator at Cedar Valley College, would not hear of her quitting.

“We’re all human. Any of us can have a stressful day,” said Minger. “It’s going to be difficult, but that’s college. It’s hard, but you have experience and you know things. Annette was one of those students who was so excited that she would be able to go to school and be supported by her job. We just had to convince her that she could do this.”

Supervisor Certificates Can Boost Careers

Supervisor certificates are part of the Dallas County Community College District’s goal to narrow the skills gap confronting educators and employers as well as to ensure that the workforce is advanced, readied and competent, Minger said.

“We want to narrow the skills gap. Some (people) are in supervisor positions already, but they lack the college credential,” Minger said.

DCCCD’s fast-track supervisor certificates are essential for professionals who want to move up in their fields and demonstrate competencies they’ve already mastered. They learn supervision, problem-solving, management and business principles, she said.

“The courses don’t require textbooks, and they are easy to follow online. Students learn critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making and business principles. They can hone their skills,” Minger said. “They can accelerate if they have the knowledge and the confidence.”

“These students are adult learners, but they don’t have much in the way of confidence,” Minger added. “They think they can’t do it. Students like Annette have family obligations and work a lot of hours. But she has really carved out the time to do this. She’s stepped forward. She passed both courses. It’s something she can be proud of. This is a good experience, and I think she’s been happy with it.”

DART is committed to training the workforce in leadership and supervisory skills, and it values the credential offered by DCCCD, said Tina Franco, director of human capital at DART.

She praised the program and said she hopes other workers like LeVine will see it as a model for preparing to further their careers. “This is a wonderful learning platform to build on,” Franco said.

She added, “The true value that this new program provides is a learning resource to people in organizations who are interested in and who aspire to move into a supervisor’s role. It will help increase their competitive edge for the position, and it also will better prepare them to handle the new challenges. It’s a win-win outcome.”

Building a Career in the Public Sector Is Empowering

The supervisor certificate offered by DCCCD is a fast-track program that allows students to earn college credit by demonstrating proven competencies. Six online courses allow students to earn credit for their current work experience — proof that certain competencies have been mastered. And the supervisor certificates count toward an associate degree.

Although a promotion is not promised, LeVine believes she is improving her odds with this positive step toward the future. She is on track to finish the program in December.

“I’m a people person. I love helping the public. I’m trying to move up because I want more. I look at all kinds of positions here that are posted weekly and I think, ‘I can do that.’”

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Employers who want to use the supervisor certificate for employee training may be eligible for grant funds from Innovate+Educate.

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Read the related story: Innovative DCCCD Management Program Named Finalist for Bellwether Award