SHAMOKIN - There's an old saying that suggests the teacher eventually becomes the student.

Nicole Edmondson has experienced a bit of that this summer.

A former special education teacher, she was "studying" in her new role as the director of Luzerne County Community College's (LCCC) Northumberland Regional Center.

"It's a learning process. Something comes up every day that I need to learn or have to get assistance with," she said. "I'm the type of person that, if I don't know something, I'm not afraid to go look for the answer or ask someone. Hopefully that will help me be a good administrator here."

Edmondson was hired as the new director two months ago. She applied after seeing a newspaper advertisement.

"I thought that I would try and see what happens, and I got all the way through the interviews and here I am," she said. "It's a change of pace from teaching, but I'm liking it so far."

She formerly worked for the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, based in Montandon, but had taken classes at Bloomsburg University to become a supervisor in the education field, so she was qualified for the LCCC position.

Changing her course

A 1997 graduate of Mount Carmel Area High School, Edmondson earned a master's degree in education from Alvernia College.

She said education was a change from her aspirations when she first went to college.

"Originally, I wanted to go into the medical field," she said. "When I was doing my undergraduate studies, I needed to take an elective. I did an internship in a school, and I loved it, and immediately switched my major to education. "

Early in her career, she taught biology and related subjects.

"I stayed with science in my education because I really loved it, but I wanted to be able to share that with students instead of strictly working in medicine," she said.

Familiar with LCCC

A native of Kulpmont, Edmondson was familiar with the work LCCC has done in the area, and recognizes its growing local tradition.

She now oversees the Shamokin campus, located at the Northumberland County Career and Arts Center, and the school of nursing at Roosevelt Court, Kulpmont. In the fall 2011 semester, 550 students were enrolled between the two locations.

Last year, Northumberland County commissioners brokered a deal to keep LCCC at the career and arts center rent-free despite losing a key tenant, Pennsylvania CareerLink, which moved to Sunbury as part of a consolidation plan.

"I'm very excited to be here and really like how there is such community support for this school," Edmondson said. "The Northumberland County commissioners have always been big supporters of this school. The enrollment numbers are very good here; the students are great."

Part of the community

Edmondson hopes to continue the tradition set forward by former director Laura Siko by making LCCC's presence felt in the community.

"I want us to have the reputation of supporting the community that has been very supportive of us," she said. "I want to get our students involved in the community. I know that LCCC was a part of the annual Relay for Life event, and different community service projects. We have to give back."

She is looking forward to getting out to local high schools and "spreading the word about what LCCC has to offer."

She hopes many of the students already enrolled at LCCC, either high school graduates or those still in school who are taking dual-enrollment courses, will take advantage of the Goldman Sachs Learning Center at the career and arts center. It offers an extensive library and computer system, as well as free tutoring in several subjects.

"I want to expand services in Shamokin and Kulpmont with new classes and opportunities for our students, and through that, we can all work together to make this a better community," Edmondson said.

Challenging start

While she has been adapting and learning as she goes, her biggest challenge came as she was getting things ready for her first semester of classes at LCCC, which started Monday, Aug. 27.

"I didn't want the first day to come and have everyone be in chaos," she said. "I'm just happy that I started in July. If the week before classes began would have been my first week, I think it would have been pretty rough."

Edmondson wants to make sure she strikes the right balance between a demanding job and family life. She and her husband, Michael, have and two children, Devon and Lucas.

"It's hard to balance, but I think I'm doing a good job. My husband has been very supportive, and my family is always there to help us if we need them," she said.

She hopes the local LCCC campus will continue to thrive through her work and that of the faculty, other staff and community.

"I'm looking forward to making sure Luzerne is visible in the area and letting everyone know what we have to offer," she said.