By JIM MISUNAS
After an opening monologue where he surprisingly described his early life in the third person, Dr. Harold Arnett used his time to emphasize how education’s mission is to make the world a better place.
Harold W. Arnett, Highland Community College, director of institutional research, was introduced as a vice presidential candidate at a public forum Tuesday at Barton Community College. Several dozen Barton teachers and staff attended.
“Every one of you are vitally involved in the process of making things better,” he said. “You make things better and help people. There are times when you feel like you’re absolutely wasting your effort because you don’t see the change it makes.”
Arnett said his style is to be a good listener and he enjoys visiting with staff and students.
“I do more listening than talking,” he said. “I’m going to ask a lot of questions.”
He strives to make himself better each day and encourages everyone to achieve that goal too.
“I’m sure everyone is this room in an outstanding teacher,” Arnett said. “Being asked to improve is not being insulted. There is always room for improvement. You could be even better. That applies to me too.”
Arnett listened to each question carefully and in some cases asked for clarification to deliver a focused answer. He enjoyed a favorable response when he interjected his humor and wit into the interview process.
He believes adult education can be an important stepping stone.
“Adult education is an opportunity for motivated students,” he said. “A high school diploma still opens doors that would be closed otherwise. It’s a vital function and another avenue of hope and a way of making things better.”
Elaine Simmons, Barton’s Workforce Training and Community Education dean, asked about work-force education, relating to certificate programs, degrees and career technical education.
“I expect highly focused instruction, very clear goals, objectives and outcomes with the instruction and assessment very clearly tied to that,” Arnett said. “I expect awareness of emerging trends.”
Arnett said cultivating professional relationships enhance such work-force education programs.
Arnett said he appreciates all aspects of education and occupations.
“I’m a craftsman, a carpenter, a cabinet-maker. I have full appreciation for all of the elements that make our lives possible,” he said. “We need to appreciate one another. These things (jobs) are all important.”
Arnett said he was encouraged by elementary school teachers, highlighted by sixth-grade teacher Sydney Dudley.
“She was my favorite teacher. She wouldn’t be the least bit surprised because she believed in me,” he said.
Another teacher, Jamie Hodge, encouraged him to continue to pursue speech competition. Arnett eventually won a Kentucky state speech contest.
Arnett endorsed the value of education at a community college like Barton.
Arnett said he grew up from humble farm-family beginnings in Trenton, Ky, but quickly learned to appreciate the equal opportunity and fairness of education. It’s a lesson that launched his lifetime career in education after selling cookware, driving a bus and working for a tire manufacturer and furniture store.
“Whenever you did something right, you know it,” he said. “I love remodeling because I can always tell if I made something better.”
Arnett has worked the past 11 years at Highland Community College, He served five years as principal for the Scott County (Tenn.) Schools and worked seven years at Missouri Western.
He has focused especially on effective teaching skills and addressing different learning styles.
The complete forum is available online: