Putting class to work

LTC class assists Memory Matters, groups with marketing plan
by Jeff Pederson of The Review staff

THE INTEGRATED WEB CONCEPTS class at Lakeshore Technical College recently completed a project designed to assist four local non-profit organizations, including Memory Matters in Sheboygan Falls, with developing a new marketing and promotional campaign. — Submitted photo THE INTEGRATED WEB CONCEPTS class at Lakeshore Technical College recently completed a project designed to assist four local non-profit organizations, including Memory Matters in Sheboygan Falls, with developing a new marketing and promotional campaign. — Submitted photo In a complex, high-tech society where competition is keen, colleges are increasingly challenged to produce graduates who meet the ever-changing workplace needs of potential employers.

Lakeshore Technical College (LTC) in Cleveland has been on the leading edge of career-based education for quite some time, and the school recently raised the bar even higher with a new communitybased service learning project.

This past fall, 42 students in the school’s Integrated Web and Design Concepts class took part in a service-learning project that took the school-to-workplace connection to a brand new level.

The combined class brings together students from the graphic and web design, marketing and web and software development programs to provide real-life experience working in creative teams to assist actual clients.

“This is the second time we have held this class, both times have been in the fall,” LTC AmeriCorps VISTA Service Learning Coordinator Lee Xiong said. “It is a very unique class that brings together three professions to work as a creative team with non-profit clients to actually construct a plan that the organizations will use in the future.”

The students were split into eight teams to assist four local non-profit organizations with marketing, website, social media and promotional campaigns.

Each team consisted of at least one students from each of the three professions – marketing, graphic and web design and web and software development.

Two teams were assigned to design a plan for one non-profit organization. After each team developed and presented a plan over a 10-week period, each organization selected the team with the plan that best fit their needs.

“It was like a competition, because the organization had to choose the team that they felt had the best plan,” Xiong said. “They couldn’t pick and choose elements from each plan. They had to go with one or the other.”

The four non-project organizations included Memory Matters in Sheboygan Falls, which is an companion program to The Gathering Place adult day program for individuals with memory loss.

The others non-profit organizations were the village of Cleveland, St. Mary St. Michael Catholic School and the Manitowoc Domestic Violence Center.

Memory Matters-Gathering Place Director Cindy Musial-Olson, was pleased to be selected to participate in the project and even more pleased with the final results.

“As a small non-profit organization, I thought it would be a good idea to apply to be considered for the program,” Musial-Olson said. “We did multiple interviews with the LTC staff and instructors and we were blessed to be selected to be one of the four participating organizations this year.

“I met with the LTC staff in November and then I set up meeting times with the student groups that selected us to work with,” she said. “Overall, it was an absolutely outstanding process all the way through.”

Upon her initial meeting with the students on each team, Musial-Olson was immediately impressed.

“I was impressed with how much the students already knew about our Memory Matters program,” Musial-Olson said. “I was expecting to fill them in about what we did, but they really did their homework on us.

“I formulated a wish list for what we needed from the students, which was a website, social media presence and a logo, which we did not have for Memory Matters,” she said. “I had contact with the student teams five hours a week for just over a month, either by e-mail or face- to- face. They came up with a lot of great ideas that I never would have thought of on my own.”

Musial- Olson said she liked elements of both team’s presentations, but ultimately decided that one team had emerged as the clear winner in her mind.

“I was impressed with concepts that each team came up with, but unfortunately I couldn’t pick and choose, as it was all or nothing,” Musial-Olson said. “In the initial stages I felt both teams were pretty equal in what they were coming up with, but in the end one team jumped out ahead for me and it wasn’t really a hard choice.”

Members of the winning team included Sharon Tyszka, Ana Cortes Mata, Jack Roe, Taryn Mills and Faye Gabrielse.

The other team assisting Memory Matters was comprised of John Selak, Cody Gaeth, Kayla Ploetz, Joseph Conradt and Stephen Behrendt.

“The new website is wonderful and we have a nice social media plan as well,” she said. “The team did design a logo, but we are still refining it and working on the final design right now.

“The team really went above and beyond anything I could ever ask for,” she said. “They designed a game app, which serves as a brain game that for Matters program participants can use and it is also available on our website at www.memorymattersmost.com.”

Musial-Olson was also impressed with the series of brochures the team designed for Memory Matters.

“The students designed four different brochures, which was a brilliant idea,” Musial-Olson said. “One set was geared to volunteers, one for physicians, another for memorials, endowments and donations and another was from a marketing angle for fundraising.

“I was impressed with how the students really listened to our needs and put together the individual brochures for different audiences that fit perfectly for the needs we have,” she said.

In fact, Musial-Olson was so impressed with the work of one student in particular, that she hired her to serve as a part-time marketing assistant at Memory Matters.

“One was one student, Sharon Tyszka, that was really extraordinarily connected with our organization, so I was given the permission to hire her to do marketing for us,” Musial-Olson said. “This project does such good things, not just for students, but the entire community. The students are able to apply what they learned to the real world and provide a service to to the community at the same time.

“This wasn’t a fake assignment, it was an assignment to help a real organization, which is a key thing,” she said. “It prepares students to be better workers and to showcase their strengths to real employers.”

As the Americorps VISTA service learning coordinator at LTC, Xiong is responsible for connecting LTC classes with community service learning opportunities with local organizations.

Xiong is currently working on community-service learning projects. with 14 LTC classes in the areas of business and technology, auto mechanics, horticulture and ophthalmology.

“I go to meetings to meet with non-profit organizations on a regular basis to see if they would be a good fit with one of our LTC classes through the community service learning initiative,” Xiong said. “It is my responsibility to connect students with organizations that are looking for help and in return can provide learning opportunities for our students.”

“So far it has worked out extremely well,” she said. “

Xiong credits LTC instructors Laura Krumholz (graphic and web design), Mike Reisenauer (marketing) and Paul Hoffman (web and software developer) with going the extra mile to make the Integrated Web Designs Concept class a major success.

“The instructors did an absolutely amazing job,” Xiong said. “They really believed in the idea of having students get real-life experiences.

“I think the students learned a lot about themselves in working on this project,” she said. “It is one of the main projects they will be putting into their professional portfolios as they look to start careers in their chosen fields.”

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