MCC’s Terrell Tigner, FEC’s Shelley Penn: College & Career Readiness Champions

Metropolitan Community College’s Terrell Tigner and the Full Employment Council’s Shelley Penn have been named 2018 ACT College and Career Readiness Champions, a group that includes K-12, postsecondary and workforce professionals as well as high school seniors.

Tigner is one of 30 honorees — the only one from Missouri — in the postsecondary category. Penn is one of 25 honorees in the workforce category and again the only Show-Me State representative.

Penn was nominated by MCC’s Institute for Workforce Innovation. The Full Employment Council is an MCC workforce partner.

The honorees “have demonstrated exemplary behavior and contributions in support of college and career readiness in their respective communities,” according to ACT, the nonprofit organization best known for the ACT test.

Terrell Tigner

Tigner, associate dean of student development at MCC-Penn Valley,  has worked at MCC 12 years, starting as an academic advisor at MCC-Maple Woods, then becoming enrollment manager. He works with a diverse range of students at Penn Valley including minority males, “whose retention and graduation rates are disparately low in comparison to their male counterparts and even lower when compared to females,” according to Tigner’s nominator, Rene Bennett, student services training manager in Enrollment Services. Bennett is also chair-elect of the Missouri ACT State Organizations Council.

Terrell Tigner (right) with Richard Cole at MCC-Penn Valley

“Terrell stands tall as a beacon of hope for these students, sharing his own story of growing up in Detroit, Michigan, in a community very much like the Penn Valley community,” Bennett wrote. “He explains how his life was forever changed because of his education, and inspires students to believe in their own ability to have a different life. Terrell has ‘street credibility’ as well as a generous heart. He is charismatic and easily engages faculty and staff in any initiative he undertakes. Students can immediately tell he is genuine in his promises for support, and to help them be successful completers.”

Tigner leads MCC-Penn Valley’s Men of Color program, which provides programming to help increase persistence and completion rates among minority males. The program provides opportunities for students to become involved, connect with campus leaders and tap into resources.

Shelley Penn

MCC worked closely with Penn, the Full Employment Council’s senior vice president and chief operations officer, to coordinate classes at the Jackson County Detention Center. The FEC launched the LEAP program (Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release) in partnership with the detention center and MCC in 2015.

Shelley Penn (left) with Dr. Jackie Gill and Dr. Michael Banks at an MCC workforce event last year

LEAP’s goal is to increase the number of detainees who obtain employment upon their release, plus to reduce recidivism. MCC instructors offered training in customer service, computer skills, Microsoft Office, OSHA safety training and warehouse training.

“Ms. Penn was dedicated to the success of the program and students and was always available to provide assistance to ensure that our faculty and program staff had the necessary access and resources to provide a high-quality instructional experience for the detainees,” wrote MCC’s Monica Johnston, workforce development performance director, in her nomination.

The program was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. Over the grant period, FEC enrolled 153 participants, of which 73 participated in training, resulting in a total of 107 certificates. Of the participants released by the end of the grant, 56 clients started jobs, resulting in a placement rate of 65 percent.