By Dennis Minich
For many years, residents and officials in Cass County have clamored for some time of post-secondary education opportunities in the county. Other than some dual credit courses at area high schools and the Cass Career Center, no viable local option has been available.
That is about to change as Drury University has announced Harrisonville will become one of 10 campuses. Classes will likely begin in March of 2022.
Jeanette Flanner, who retired at the end of the last school year as the director at the career center, has been hired to set up and run the new campus.
“I’ve been trying for 20 years to get some kind of post-secondary education opportunity in the county and all it took was for me to retire,” Flanner said. “I had no idea about this when I retired. My plan was to be retired, spend time with my grandbabies, but then I heard about this and I am so excited about working with them and so excited for what this can mean about Cass County.”
Other schools have approached the area about campuses before, Flanner said Drury’s plan is different.
“Drury wanted to come here and didn’t want anything for it. They wanted to help without looking for a handout,” she said.
Drury, based in Springfield, also has satellite campuses in Ava, Houston, Ft. Leonard Wood, Monett, Lamar, Rolla, St. Robert and Farmington, Arkansas. Flanner said the provide opportunities to underserved areas.
“They don’t want this just to be a place for high school graduates to take a couple classes and then wanting to take four years in Springfield. This can also be a place for people who maybe never finished a degree, or someone who has always wanted to start, but couldn’t take the time to go full time. Drury has several certificate programs, so maybe it is for someone looking to pick up a type of certificate,” said Flanner.
She said classes may be held face to face, some might be online and others might be a combination, but the availability of in-person learning is an important factor which will help the college succeed here.
“There is still a lot of the county which doesn’t have Internet. During the pandemic there were teachers who couldn’t teach from home. There were students who had to drive to the school parking lot to access the Internet,” said Flanner.
But she noted the lack of Internet is not the only reason a local campus is better.
“Some people just can’t learn via the Internet. Maybe you are the type of person who needs the face-to-face time. Maybe you need the in-person classes to keep focused. There’s a zillion reasons why people have trouble learning, so I hope people will be able to take advantage of opportunity here,” she said.
Flanner noted Drury offers several scholarship programs which can benefit potential students. One such program is the Public Service and Safety Badges to Bachelors program, designed to help law enforcement officers to finish their degrees, or maybe get started.
She noted there can be financial assistance available in certificate programs.
“Maybe someone is in a job where obtaining a specific certificate can help them advance: there’s financial assistance for that.” Flanner said. “If a person is 24-years -old or older, there’s many options for help at the state level. You might be surprised to see what opportunities are available.”
She said the early classes would likely focus on business related courses; she hopes programs can expand to meet a variety of needs.
“Cass Career Center has a great LPN program, but there is no bridge to RN program. That’s one of the things I want Drury to look at. Another bridge program could be EMT to paramedic. Programs like these could allow people the opportunity to learn more, and maybe move up into leadership opportunities in their fields,” she said.
She said there are many cases where a potential student just can’t take the time to drive two hours to a campus for a class or two and then drive back. She also noted Drury can work with area high schools for college credit.
Drury keeps class sizes small; most don’t have over 25 students. In some cases, semesters are broken into two eight-week sessions, so that a student could take one class at a time, but complete two classes in a regular semester.
Flanner said she hopes classes can begin in the second session of the upcoming semester, which would start classes in March.
How many and what specific classes will be offered has not been determined. The Harrisonville campus is located at 512 Westchester Ave.
For more information you can email Flanner at: email@example.com.