Op-ed: Johnson College Looks to the Future While Honoring its Past

As industry changes and evolves to meet future needs, so does Johnson College. This year, northeastern Pennsylvania’s only two-year, hands-on, technical college will look to the future as our campus prepares for significant improvements that will change the landscape of North Scranton. The College is preparing to construct a new building to replace Richmond Hall. As our plans move forward it is important to recognize Richmond Hall’s significance in our history.

The William H. Richmond estate, which included a part of Richmond Hall, was donated more than 100 years ago to create Orlando S. Johnson’s dream of establishing and maintaining a trade school, where young people can be taught useful arts and trades that enable them to make an honorable living and become contributing members of society. While students and alumni didn’t spend as much time in Richmond Hall as they did within the walls of their academic program buildings, it was the first building they walked by or drove past when they arrived on campus. In turn, it became a symbol as the gateway to their future careers.  

Since Richmond Hall was first utilized by staff and students in 1912, the mission of Johnson College has remained unwavering. We provide real-world hands-on learning in a caring environment that prepares graduates to enter into or advance their careers. We partner with industry to ensure that students get the education and skills needed for in-demand, essential careers.

At Johnson College, we play an important role in the higher education space, filling a critical niche with career-focused, technical education. We balance industry’s immediate need with where it’s headed.  Students learn skills they can apply at their current job and at jobs that have yet to be created. The quality and type of education  that Johnson College provides works, as evidenced by our graduate’s high placement rate and constant employer contact asking for more skilled graduates to fill their positions. At Johnson College, we are innovating to educate our students fast enough to meet employer demands, without ever sacrificing the quality of education for which we are known.

From our humble beginnings as a finishing institute offering only three courses of study, Johnson College has grown to become a two-year, accredited, non-profit college providing the best technicians and technologists to the region. Beyond academics, the College has been ranked number one for immediate return on a graduate’s investment for education among local institutions based on a 10-year return in a recent Georgetown University study; was ranked number 10 on Forbes’ Top 25 Two-Year Trade Schools in 2018; and our graduates earned pass rates above 94% on national level exams. Johnson College students are introduced to industry when they walk on campus for their first class or lab, and a majority of them start their career in their field before they walk across the stage at commencement.

As we continue to grow, our campus will change. Preparation for the new space that will replace Richmond Hall will begin soon and construction of the new building is scheduled to start later this year. To honor the original building’s legacy, parts of Richmond Hall will be repurposed throughout campus.

While the structure that is Richmond Hall will no longer stand, the symbol of Johnson College’s gateway to the future will remain. This new building will celebrate the intersection between higher education and industry; carry Orlando S. Johnson’s legacy forward; and be a space where prospective students will begin with the end in mind: their future career. It will offer classroom and lab spaces where students will get to see and use equipment they will utilize out in the workforce, meeting space that will be used by the college community and industry partners, and student-facing offices such as academics, enrollment, and financial aid. Employer and industry partners will be featured throughout.

Today, Johnson College is much different than it was in 1912. We stick to our roots, even as we evolve and grow. As President and CEO, I am extremely proud of our past, and I am excited that Johnson College graduates continue to be an essential asset to Northeastern Pennsylvania’s industries. 

With so much uncertainty in the world, Johnson College remains a constant.  We will always work to produce the skilled technicians needed for the workforce. Richmond Hall will be missed, but our commitment to our region remains strong. This is what will pave the way for the next 100 years, and beyond.  

This is a guest op-ed written by Katie Leonard, Ed.D., President & CEO of Johnson College that was submitted to local newspapers the last week of January 2021.

Now Enrolling Students in Forklift Operator Training Course

Johnson College’s Continuing Education program is offering a Forklift Operator Training Course on Saturday, February 6, 2021 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.in the Diesel Technology Center on the College’s campus in Scranton. The cost of the course is $200, but if you are a current Johnson College student or alumni the cost is only $100. Space is limited! Contact the Continuing Education team at 570-702-8979 or continuinged@johnson.edu to learn more and enroll.

The forklift operator training is designed to familiarize students with OSHA Powered Industrial Truck Operator Training Requirements (29CFR Standard 1910.178 and ASME B56.1), provide current training requirements under the newly adopted standards and to assist participants in becoming an authorized operator of forklifts through theory and tactile testing. 12 hours of instruction including pre-operational inspection, picking up, traveling and placing loads, parking procedures, refueling, and practical operation.

Johnson College’s Continuing Education Program distinguishes itself from the College’s 2-year degree programs and certificate courses by providing its adult students the opportunity to improve their skills to stay ahead of the competition, learn new technologies, and advance in their current career. The Continuing Education courses, many taught by industry professionals, are utilized and recognized by industry partners because they’re developed in partnership with industry. The program also includes pre-employment skills testing and exclusive online courses offering certification classes for essential industries. Johnson College also assists individual students and industry partners in obtaining funding or grants so their continuing education courses are cost effective. Johnson College trains the workforce of northeastern Pennsylvania by immersing continuing education, degree and certificate earning students into industry from day one. We Work, so our students succeed. For additional information on Johnson College’s Continuing Education Program, please call 570-702-8979, email continuinged@johnson.edu, or visit Johnson.edu/continuingeducation.

Tech Talk with Johnson College Podcast – Episode 6 Now Available

Tech Talk with Johnson College Podcast Episode 6, “Skilled Technicians are In-Demand” is now available. In this episode Dr. Katie Leonard talks with Darryl Jayne, General Manager at Gibbons Ford in Dickson City, PA. Dr. Leonard and Mr. Jayne share industry stories of the auto industry and in-demand skilled technicians who have come through Johnson College. You might not think about the importance of strong communication skills and the mastering of emotional soft skills. These traits are valued by all employers and surprisingly useful in the auto-industry.

To listen to all of the Tech Talk with Johnson College Podcast episodes and learn more visit https://johnsoncollegepodcast.com/. The podcasts are also available on iTunes and Spotify.

Darryl Jayne has been with Gibbons Ford for the last 8 years. He started in the industry 42 years ago selling automobiles. He was drawn to the business and knew right away that it would be a forever career. Jayne has been with the same company for the duration of his career, minus one month at the beginning and five years in the middle.

Jayne says the past eight plus years in the role of General Manager have been very rewarding and diversified. He was the primary contact on the building of Gibbons Ford’s new 5 million dollar facility and orchestrated the move of their team, product and processes. Over the recent years, he’s had been very fortunate to have collected and employed some of the finest team members in the automotive industry. This has propelled Gibbons Ford to becoming one of the largest Ford dealers in the state, on track to achieve 100 million in sales by the end of 2020.

Per Jayne, the reason for Gibbons Ford’s success has always been our employees and their efforts. Jayne is called to find the right people to do that and he truthfully believes that it’s his my biggest asset. Most of Gibbons Ford’s success is because their owner supported, encouraged and gave their employees the opportunity to grow.

Jayne is a Norte Dame fan who was born and raised in the valley and a proud graduate of Valley View High School in Archbald, PA. He enjoys golfing with his wife Suzy, who he’s been married to for 15 years. Jayne serves on the board at one of the local golf clubs, which despite many challenges has been very rewarding. He is also the primary care giver for his 95-year-old mother who still bakes and makes homemade jellies and jams.