Popular Demand Results in Hands-On Class for Staff
By Jennifer Willis
A Buddhist proverb states, “When the student is ready, the master appears.”
There couldn’t be a better example of this than on our own campus, where GCU staff members have come together to fulfill a need for continuing education among administrative assistants.
“There really is not any professional development for staff on campus,” says Executive Assistant Lisa Reznick. “I kept hearing people talk about a need for assistance in programs like Microsoft Excel and Word.”
So Reznick approached Technical Support Specialist Bill Yearnd, who came up with a weekly refresher course for those who were seeking the help.
“Our managers were in support of it, too,” Reznick adds, “which was crucial for us to be able to take the time out of our day to do this.”
The class averages around a dozen people a week, meeting on Friday from 10 a.m. to noon in the College of Education building. Every level of expertise is represented, from those with basic knowledge of the programs to the more advanced.
“Most people are familiar with the (Microsoft) Office Suite,” says Administrative Assistant David Spilker. “But learning the tricks of the trade is really nice.”
Reznick sent out feelers, asking about topics people were interested in learning or brushing up on. Yearnd planned classes around those specific needs.
“I don’t want to teach them something they already know how to do,” Yearnd says. “That would be a waste of time.”
Administrative Assistant Kristin Cline says that the classes have been extremely beneficial.
“I learned something every single class,” Cline says. “There wasn’t a single class that I wasn’t able to take something away and apply it to my daily work.”
“Even if I already knew something, I would learn little tricks that I didn’t know before to make things easier,” Spilker says. “We’re being re-exposed to things that maybe we learned years ago but have forgotten.”
Reznick enjoys the way the classes are structured.
“We spend the first part of class going over what we learned the previous week,” she says. “The repetition is key.”
Yearnd also makes sure to have handouts and cheat sheets for his students to take with them, in case they forget how to do something.
“My goal is that when they get back to their desk they can either A.) Do everything they learned, B.) Do most of what they learned or C.) Know that they learned it but need help so that they call me,” he says.
The class recently wrapped up the first session on Excel, and already there are requests for classes on Word Forms and Mail Merge.
At the end of the most recent class, Yearnd presented Reznick with a certificate of appreciation. “Without her, this never would have happened,” he says.
Reznick doesn’t want to take all the credit, though.
“Bill’s a great teacher,” she says. “And I’d also like to give a huge shout-out to the IT department. They were great in providing us a lab that we were able to work from each week, allowing the class to be hands-on.”
Reach Jennifer Willis at 639.7383 or Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.