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Kathleen O’Leary, director of Academic and Student Affairs, counsels with student Rebecca Roberts about the coming semester at Bitterroot College. O’Leary also advises high school students in the Bitterroot Valley about dual enrollment and their career goals.

Bitterroot College is starting classes Jan. 10.

This semester the college plans to add staff and classes. It's also expecting to serve 30 new students.

Enrollment is still underway so the final count is not complete. The second semester to the school year will run from Jan. 10 – May 3.

The college is offering 30 college classes that meet general education requirements and preregistration requirements for applied degrees in healthcare.

Bitterroot College has taken additional safety measures for the Hamilton campus.

The University of Montana has had an emergency text and email system but recent upgrades and creating a subgroup allows Bitterroot College to text all students and staff directly if there is a local emergency.

Hannah Gimpel, director of Administrative and Facilities Services, said the changes create better direct communications.

“In case there is a lockdown or something, we would be able to do it instead of calling UM,” Gimpel said. “Plus, if we call UM the message would go to all UM students. This is exciting for us to be able to directly contact just our student group with mass communication systems.”

Gimpel said the system would be used if classes are cancelled, there is a lock down or other emergency.

“We may also send orientation reminders but we want to be careful and not have students unsubscribe,” she said.

Other safety additions, thanks to funding from the UM Safety Committee, include concealment blinds for classrooms and one way shades at the front door.

“We can see out but people can’t see in,” Gimpel said. “They also brought us bleeding control kits and every classroom has one. Not fun things to think about but we are prepared.”

Active shooter training, employee trainings and emergency protocols are completed and the new Justice Center is in construction across the street.

Continuing Education Program Director Lea Guthrie, also in charge of Workforce Programs, has recently been focused on the spring catalog for which will be mailed soon. The new information is also on the Bitterroot College website.

“I think what’s exciting is our popular classes are back and we have a number of new classes,” Guthrie said.

New classes will be taught by ClayWorks! In the Bitterroot, Ravalli County Extension Services, Hamilton High School and Ravalli Economic Development Authority and individuals. They include two pottery classes, Planning for Farm Success, Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing, Preparing for the Fire Season (and contracting with the government) and Retirement Planning. New health and fitness classes include Creating Healthy Meals in a Skillet, Women’s Winter Hiking, Triathlon Fitness for Couch Potatoes, Eating Smart and Being Active, tacos, herbs, yoga and life planning.

There are also new history, science and specialty classes.

“Kate Stone from MPG Ranch will be offering ‘Explore This Universe’ and talk about how to be a citizen scientist and help with global studies going on,” Guthrie said. “They take a lot of photos with game cams and need people to help go through all the photos and help identify the animals. It is crowd sourcing science.”

The Bitterroot Fab lab continues to offer classes in exciting development like 3D printing, drones, robotics and virtual reality.

Workforce training classes include bookkeeping, commercial driver license, computers, medical assistance, certified nurse aid, dental assisting and ServSafe Food Manager. New is a course on OSHA Training by a Montana Department of Labor and Industry Safety and Health Bureau partner.

“Most of our adult education courses are starting late January,” Guthrie said.

Bitterroot College has alumni returning as interns.

Michael Johnson is completing her Bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and will focus in helping the college with marketing.

“I am doing their graphic design and working to make their branding better,” Johnson said. “We have the potential to look better and I want to take advantage of that. Either making signs with our logo, or brochures and catalog to update the look. I’m using the aesthetic of the college in a better way.”

Jon Swallow earned his associates degree from Bitterroot College in 2016, recently graduated from the UM with a degree in Media Arts and is now working on the Bitterroot College technology needs.

“A lot of our computers are out of date and a lot of what I do is keep them running,” Swallow said.

He has the computers on a monthly schedule for updates and correlates with the UM and their computer standards.

“We are about to get a new server,” Swallow said. “So I’ll soon be able to do mass deployments. I am a support for the instructors and the students – the students are why we are here.”

Swallow is also teaching a computer class at the college.

Kim Young Delvo is working on internship in Fine Arts for a diversity project.

Faculty liaison Jennifer Johnson is a chemistry professor.

“We do have new classes offered this spring,” Johnson said. “We have health related courses, like career essentials and medical ethics. We’re offering anthropology, our human anatomy and physiology series, our chemistry series, and STEM fundamental in addition to those.”

Additional classes include trigonometry, government and writing courses.

“We’ve had several of these before and we have returning faculty,” Johnson said. “We have a new microbiology teacher who works with Jim Streibel.”

Johnson said she is excited for the hustle and bustle of second semester at the college.

“Everyone is making an adjustment to the early start but for the most part we are an adaptive crew and we’ll make it work,” Johnson said.

Erin Rosenkrance is the new Student Success Manager with a goal of supporting students.

Rosenkrance said her job is to help students stay in school and provide them with tutoring opportunities and workshops on learning to study, taking notes, calm test taking anxieties and general study skills.

Rosenkrance did take a course at Bitterroot College when it was located on Old Corvallis Road. She has since completed degrees in Native American studies and history.

She was also a nontraditional student and understands.

“College wasn’t working for me originally and I found myself starting over at age 31 and took classes one at a time,” Rosenkrance said. “I started with the lowest math class you could take because I had no idea what I was doing.”

She added tutoring and every helpful class she could find. Even with the extra job of raising two small children she worked extra hard to graduate with honors.

Rosenkrance said being a nontraditional student can include finding a babysitter, being extra organized, forcing yourself to study and possibly holding a full time job.

“My goal is to give students an ear, support and the opportunity to succeed,” she said. “It may not mean all A’s. Sometime it is just getting up in the morning because it is tough. I want to be there for students.”

Another change this semester is that MineShaft Pasty Company is opening a second outlet in the Bitterroot College to provide food services to staff and students.

“We are excited about that, plus they’ve hired students to work it,” Gimpel said. “I think it will work well as there are many new opportunities at this end of town.”

For more information about the Bitterroot College visit online, call 406-375-0100 or visit in person at 103 South Ninth Street in Hamilton.