If you’re the 5,000th student to enroll in HCC’s driver’s ed class, you get to take the class for free

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One lucky student driver won’t have to pay for driver’s ed instruction this year. To celebrate its 15th year of offering driver education, Harford Community College is offering to waive its $319 class fee for the 5,000th student who enrolls. Here are the details:

HCC CELEBRATES 15 YEARS OF DRIVER EDUCATION WITH FREE TUITION FOR 5,000TH STUDENT

Bel Air, Md., June 1, 2011 —  In honor of the 15th anniversary of its driver education program in June, Harford Community College will offer free tuition to the 5,000th student to enroll in the program (based on student records since 1998).

Harford Community College expects the 5,000th student to enroll during the fall semester. That student will receive free tuition for the class (a $319 value).

Driver education began June 24, 1996, with four classes offered over the summer session. Today, more than 30 classes are offered during the entire academic year.

“When we looked back through our records, we were surprised to find how many Harford County drivers were trained at HCC,” said Pat Hogan, director for community education at Harford Community College. “Our instructors deserve a lot of credit for keeping our roads safe, one driver at a time.”

Classes are offered primarily to young adults who are preparing to take their driver’s test. Students spend 30 hours in the classroom and six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. Parents are invited to attend the first classroom session with the student so that they are fully engaged and know what to expect from their child’s participation in the class.

The six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction include navigating the vast Harford Community College parking areas and inner campus roads before moving onto secondary roads and major highways.

Mervin Mawhinney was the first coordinator of Harford Community College’s driver education program. A teacher by profession, he came to the college with a long history of providing driver education to students at Harford County Public Schools and The John Carroll School. His bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University included a minor in driver education.

“Providing driver’s education was another way for Harford Community College to reach out to the greater community,” Mr. Mawhinney said. “Frederick Community College had already started a program, and we used that institution as a model. HCC designated a classroom specifically for driver education. Local dealerships, starting with Scott Pontiac and then continuing with Boyle Buick GMC Truck, have enabled us to secure and maintain vehicles that are safe and appropriate for student use.”

Mr. Mawhinney, who retired at the end of 2010, recalls the success of the program from the very beginning. “The quality of instruction was definitely the main reason for the immediate success of the program. We started with a few classes and now have more than 30 throughout the year,” he said. “We’ve also seen a lot of families sending all their children to the program because they know how successful it was for their older children.”

Jonathan Reed, the current driver education coordinator, said the use of technology in the classroom has changed the program over the years.

“The curriculum has become more technology-based, incorporating PowerPoint and SMART Board in the classes,” Mr. Reed explained. “Using current technology keeps the students more engaged in the program.”

Mr. Reed has served as both a classroom teacher and behind-the-wheel instructor at Harford Community College since 2003. He enjoys behind-the-wheel instruction best because it puts into concrete practice what the students have learned in the classroom.

“Behind-the-wheel opportunities show the students firsthand how to apply what they learned in the classroom. Oftentimes, it doesn’t fully sink in until they are behind the wheel the first time. It brings together everything they learned.”

The program meets the MVA Graduated Licensing Program.

Eight classes are offered in June, July and August and continue year round. For more information about Harford Community College’s driver education program, visit www.harford.edu or call 443-412-2376.