The Ennis Continuing Education Program is looking for a new director, but the departing co-directors have left the fledgling program on solid ground, said Ennis superintendent Doug Walsh.
“We think we got a real good start on this thing and we want to keep the momentum going,” Walsh said.
The ECE Program was born last year out of what was previously know as the Ennis Adult Education program and was directed by Jon Goodman of Ennis and Toni Fanning of Alder.
However, both Goodman and Fanning are moving along to focus fulltime on their careers. Fanning works with her husband on a local ranch and Goodman owns Yellowstone Wealth Management.
However, from the response the ECE Program has received from the community, it’s obvious that it’s striking a chord with Madison Valley residents, Goodman said.
“It’s really been clear based on the community support and participation that this really warrants a fulltime executive director,” he said.
The first course offering under the ECE Program was last winter and more than 200 students signed up. The same level of participation was seen with the slate of spring classes. Courses offered have been varied and included stock market education, Excel instruction and photography. The program has also offered seminar classes in running effective meetings, history and money management.
Goodman and Fanning also worked to develop a new website to keep students and community residents better informed of course offerings.
“We’ve really shifted it from a school oriented program to a community oriented program,” Goodman said.
Priorities still left to accomplish are developing a good GED program to help people who need to finish their high school education, as well as offering advance placement and distance-learning classes to offer students the ability earn some college level credits, he said.
One reason the program is so popular in the Madison Valley is because people know that education is a critical component of any economic recovery. So as the country and the state move out of the recession, people having access to educational resource no matter what age they are will be crucial, Goodman said.
These classes also help people get a better sense of their community.
“We’re trying to develop and cultivate a sense of community from our community oriented program,” he said.
Whoever the school district hires to replace him and Fanning needs to be able to work with the community and be willing to grasp the vision of the program and run with it, Goodman said.
He and Fanning also relied on an informal advisory committee that will continue to be an asset to the program, he said.
“It’s a great job,” Goodman said. “And I can’t say enough about how good the school was to me. I believe it truly has the potential to be the best program in the state.”
He will continue as executive director until a replacement is hired, he said.
The school district is still accepting applications, Walsh said. The salary for the position will have to be determined by the school board.
Last year the program had a budget of about $50,000. The budget for next year is yet to be determined, Walsh said. The school board will take up the overall budget at their Aug. 8 meeting.
The district will have until Aug. 25 to pass a final budget, he said.
Walsh hasn’t decided whether he’ll hire one director for the program or two part time directors like he had with Fanning and Goodman. Whoever is hired will have some input into the budget for the program, Walsh said.
Both Walsh and Goodman gave credit to the school’s custodial staff to helping make the program successful. It took a lot of work to get classrooms ready and cleaned in the evenings, Goodman said. But without that effort, the program just wouldn’t have worked.
Anyone interested in more information about the ECE Program director position should call Walsh at 682-4258.