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October 21, 2020

JCCC partners with Kansas City YMCA to offer space for the Y Academy – a program that combines childcare and education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now more than ever, Johnson County Community College is committed to transforming lives and strengthening communities. We recently partnered with the YMCA of Greater Kansas City as a location for its new Y Academy. This daily program provides a combination of childcare and education, an initiative that embodies the "community" in community college.

"The College is here to inspire learning, transform lives, and strengthen our community. I think that sharing our space with the YMCA’s Y Academy program actively supports each of those values," said Jeff Hoyer, JCCC Executive Director of Space Management.

An adult playing with two children on the steps outside Carlsen Center

Transforming Spaces

The YMCA requested large classrooms as well as access to outdoor space. Enrichment activities beyond the classroom are part of the well-rounded learning experience this program provides. To accomplish this, Hoyer worked with campus scheduling personnel and the JCCC Police Department to identify the best potential areas on campus to hold the program. The biggest struggle was finding a space that would adequately separate the Y Academy from the general campus population to avoid cross contamination in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

"A block of four rooms on the main level of the Carlsen Center was seen as the most desirable for its isolation from the bulk of our credit students, and because it was near the Virginia Krebs Community Room. That room (which has a separate side entrance) was determined to be a key factor in this program. It allows for easy and safe pick-up and drop-off of the kids, without interfering with our regular traffic and the JoCo bus traffic at the main entrance of the Carlsen Center,” Hoyer said.

A little girl wearing a purple outfit with polka dots, hanging on to a light pole with a big smile on her face.

Kids at College

JCCC is one of six locations across the Kansas City metro hosting the new Y Learning Academy program. JCCC started with 60 children, ages 5-12, from four different school districts, but enrollment has changed from week to week as school districts transition to hybrid and in-person learning. The plan is to keep Y Academy open as long as the need exists for families that have chosen "remote only" learning for the semester.

"It's been great to have classrooms in the Carlsen Center. It helps make the environment feel like a learning environment in the traditional sense that children are used to," said Maigan Bridgette, YMCA multi-site coordinator. "It helped with the transition into this new model of programming for students. We have access to plenty of rooms, so we are able to keep our groups small and have kids spread out." 

A grinning little girl in glasses and a pink shirt and black shorts running up the path outside the Carlsen Center

All YMCA Y Academy staff must complete up to 16 hours of training related to safety, supervision and COVID-19 guidelines. They’re tasked with ensuring all program participants log into Zoom meetings and complete their schoolwork on a daily basis.

Shaping Future Cavaliers

“We have had a lot of kids say funny things about how grown-up they feel because they get to go to school at a college. Some parents have shared that their children say to others, ‘I go to college now.’ Some have even said that they plan to go to JCCC once they are in college,” Bridgette said.

Learn more about the Y Academy program and view some adorable photos captured by Susan McSpadden, JCCC Marketing Photographer.