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Koster Tours STLCC-Forest Park with Eye on Employment Opportunities for Students

February 10, 2014

Chris Koster tour  
Kim Polk, director of Dental Hygiene program and Dental
Technologies department, discusses the program with Missouri
Attorney General Chris Koster during his visit to campus Feb. 6.

Dental hygienists-in-training at work on patients, professors explaining innovations in teaching developmental math, and culinary students churning frozen desserts were part of Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster’s visit to the Forest Park campus of St. Louis Community College Feb. 6.

Koster, who has been attorney general since 2009, was interested in learning more about the programs at STLCC-Forest Park, and at community colleges in general.

“I enjoyed my visit very much,” he said after spending two hours walking the hallways and talking with instructors. “It was very impressive.”

Koster inquired about operations and practices as Cindy Hess, campus president, led him on a tour through the buildings. He was interested in employment opportunities for students.

Rick Anthes, chair of the Automotive Technology department, talked about many local companies, from quick oil change operations to car dealerships, who hire STLCC-FP graduates. Hess pointed out that the program now has three female students, and is becoming more diversified.

“And they are accepted by their peers,” Anthes said of the women. “They are pretty sharp. You wouldn’t go into this business if you weren’t serious about it.”

Casey Shiller, coordinator of the Baking and Pastry Arts program, shared samples of students freshly made caramel ice cream, as he outlined the curriculum of his classes. He mentioned new general education classes tailored to the culinary students, from precise measurements for recipes in math classes to writing restaurant reviews and recipes for English classes.

Kim Polk, director of the Dental Hygiene program and Dental Technologies department, described the hands-on learning students receive in the field by accepting public patients for teeth cleaning. Polk said they see between 1,200 and 1,500 patients over the course of a year. They refer patients to dentists, too.

Polk explained that students now are using digital radiography, the newest tool in dental hygiene.

“Our students are highly motivated,” she said, noting that their GPAs are mostly 3.00 to 3.50, with half at 3.5 or higher. After graduation, students can start earning $28 to $32 an hour.

Jim Munden, chair of the Mathematics department, and Mike Luecke, professor of math, provided details about the redesign of the developmental math courses that producer quicker results, and allow students to advance when they are ready.

The Medical Simulation Laboratory showcased state-of-the-art patient care as students communicated with a dummy patient (an instructor’s voice came through a control room).

Koster viewed the new renovations of the Student Center – the First Stop on the first floor, combining admissions and registration for streamlined service, as well as work being done on the grounds.

“I was thrilled that he took an interest in Forest Park and community colleges as a whole. He asked many questions,” Hess said.