Janetta Kruse: Sparking Lifelong Learning at TCC Northwest

Janetta Kruse, the new Dean of Lifestyle and Community Learning, loves to spark interest in students at the personal enrichment level, building skills and leading them to different educational pathways. Kruse graduated from Texas Tech University and began her career in education, initially teaching Computer Applications. While continuing to teach, she earned her master’s degree. 

Transitioning into the corporate sector, she worked as a corporate trainer in a private computer company’s training division. Later, she relocated to the Weatherford area closer to her family and taught part-time at Weatherford College, eventually becoming a full-time faculty member. Over her 24-year tenure, she held various roles at the college, starting as the Director of Workforce Education, progressing to Associate Dean, and ultimately serving as the Dean. 

In her role as Dean, she oversaw technical programs, both credit and non-credit, and community learning. Some of these programs included Public Safety, Cosmetology and numerous others. Presently, Kruse serves as the Dean of the Lifestyle and Community Learning Department here at TCC Northwest. Lifestyle and Community Learning includes College for Kids, Senior Education and Community Learning, also known as personal enrichment or community engagement. 

The Lifestyle and Community Learning department includes Coordinator J.D. Davila and Administrative Assistant Karen Martz. They are actively engaging in community outreach and College-wide participation. Their team is thrilled about collaborating with the Health and Wellness team, Learning Commons, and other initiatives like TSI prep workshops, financial literacy and retirement workshops. In addition to this outreach, they are fostering partnerships with organizations such as the Boy Scouts and the YMCA. Janetta emphasizes the collaborative spirit, noting intentional efforts across campus to open communication and collaboration among departments. She highlights the flexibility and productivity gained from this approach. 

Kruse finds it exciting to focus on fostering early engagement through lifelong learning, covering a wide range of educational opportunities. She explains that building a supportive team with backing from the College has been fulfilling. Lifestyle and Community Learning, attuned to community needs, strategically plans and manages programs. Coming back from the pandemic as well as going through a rebranding, she saw Northwest as an opportunity to build up and grow. 

Having a previous background with the College for Kids program at Weatherford College, Kruse recognized and brought back knowledge to the program at TCC. Within College for Kids at TCC, each campus offers 27 core courses. There also is a proposal to introduce unique courses tailored to each campus’s strengths, facilities, and community through District-level collaboration. Despite some recent challenges like relocation, construction and limited classroom space, the College for Kids program has seen a remarkable 34 percent enrollment increase. Kruse is looking forward to the promising future of this department. 

The Senior Education program is thriving with a 6 percent enrollment increase, rebounding from pandemic challenges. Kruse, actively involved, facilitated changes in response to campus changes, optimizing room space and aligning schedules with credit students. This collaborative effort ensures a coordinated and efficient campus schedule. During the heavy construction periods, the parking situation was not ideal for the Senior Education students. Kruse’s engagement in campus meetings allowed her and her team to express the needs of their students and, in return, add new handicapped spaces. She said, “Once a student, always a student.” She wants to make sure everyone feels welcomed and heard. The Senior Education courses are thoughtfully planned out to accommodate the student’s availability and interests. The program relies on volunteers to teach the courses, featuring a diverse range of instructors from the community. 

Kruse appreciates the supportive leadership at Northwest, feeling welcomed, included and fully supported right from the start. Looking ahead, she sees significant opportunities, especially with the CEATL Campus, exploring possibilities in aviation, aviation maintenance and corporate solutions. In her dynamic role, no two days are alike, working on intentional growth, programming, and planning. She has enjoyed creating meaningful connections with great people and leadership at Northwest, fostering a collaborative spirit. The focus remains to support both the students and the community, continuing to build and grow through innovative plans and creative ideas. She loves this group of students and the freedom, ability, and trust within her department to let her creativity flow. Considering all the major changes, updates, and transformations underway at Northwest, her creative, bright, flexible, and proactive attitude seamlessly aligns with the college’s goals and vision for the Lifestyle and Community Learning Department. This makes her a valuable addition to the Northwest Campus team.