Sunday, October 2, 2022

Barksdale Named New Director of Northwest ABE/GED Program

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Vickie Barksdale

Vickie Barksdale of Senatobia has been named director of the Northwest Mississippi Community College Adult Basic Education (ABE)/GED program. Barksdale, who has been at Northwest since 2007, took over the position on July 1, following the retirement of longtime director Guy Purdy.

Barksdale began her career at Mississippi State University working as a human resources generalist, student services coordinator and executive assistant. She worked in human resources at North Oak Regional Medical Center before coming to Northwest. She was first hired as a substitute instructor before becoming a part-time ABE/GED instructor at the DeSoto Center. She became executive director of the DeSoto Literacy Council from 2009-2012, and then worked as an ABE/GED instructor and workforce specialist/navigator. She was lead instructor in the ABE/GED program before being named director.

She credits her time in human resources for fostering an interest in teaching. “When I was at North Oak, I did the training and orientation for new employees, so when I came to Northwest, I knew that I wanted to teach,” Barksdale said.

Barksdale says that one of her main goals for the ABE/GED program is to work on student retention. “We want to build a relationship and rapport with our students so that we can get to know them and communicate with them. We need their input into how the program is working. The students we capture, we want to keep,” Barksdale said.

A recent change to the ABE/GED program is the implementation of nine-week terms for classes. Students are assessed and assigned to a particular class that will best meet their needs. Students receive classroom instruction based on the GED sections. In addition, students can get individual instruction, and there are also some online programs available for students to use. Barksdale praised her staff. “We have a great group of teachers now. They teach because they love it, and they have a great passion for their students. Without them and my lead instructor and transition coordinator, I can’t do anything,” Barksdale said. She says that she still substitutes in classes if one of the teachers is unable to be there. “I don’t want to close a class unless I absolutely have to, because that too affects student retention.”

One of the new changes Barksdale hopes to make is online GED classes. She feels she could reach adults who have full time jobs and families and who need to get the GED, but who cannot find time to come to one of the centers where classes are. She is currently working on the implementation of an online GED class. Barksdale stated that students will be assessed and either allowed to enter the GED online or work with the classroom until they get to that level. She is hoping to accept 12-15 students in the first class. “I will be in charge of this program until we get it up and running, and to a satisfactory place. I don’t feel like I can be effective if I don’t understand it myself,” Barksdale said. She said that she is also looking to open a class in Tallahatchie County also. “If there is a need, we want to be there,” Barksdale said.

Barksdale credits her predecessor, Guy Purdy, for the great program at Northwest. “He developed an amazing program. We are one of the largest programs in the state. He was very organized and structured. He was the one who made it as strong as it is, when I took over,” Barksdale said.

Barksdale earned her Associate of Arts in business administration from Northwest, and her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Christian Brothers University. She earned a master’s degree in education from Mississippi State University. Barksdale is a certified GED examiner and a STAR Reading Program instructor and trainer. She is a member of the Mississippi Foundation for Literacy, National Services for Non-Profit Organizations, Society of Human Resource Management and Phi Theta Kappa.

ABE provides instruction in the skill areas of reading, writing, arithmetic, employment skills, and basic science and social studies. Classes feature individualized and group instruction. Many classes use computer-assisted learning.

The GED is now a computer–based test, and testing is available at any of Northwest’s three test sites: the Senatobia campus, Northwest DeSoto Center and the WIN Job Center in Oxford. ABE has 24 classes at 14 locations throughout the district. There are 12 full-time instructors, 12 part-time instructors and eight volunteer instructors. ABE partners with the DeSoto and Tate County Literacy Councils to help meet the literacy education needs of the local community.

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