In a move that could have a lasting impact on Forsyth County's work force, Lanier Technical College and the local school system announced plans Monday for a dual enrollment program.
The agreement, which will allow Forsyth County high school students to receive both prep and college credits for classes in several fields through Lanier Tech, will begin in August.
For some classes, students won't have to leave their high school campus. And the HOPE grant could cover some of the expenses.
“We want to try to find whatever avenues we can find to make available what we do to your students,” Lanier Tech President Russell Vandiver told Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans.
“We want to be a viable option for these students and give them the opportunities they may have never had before.”
The courses available for dual enrollment are for students interested in becoming a certified nursing assistant, office accounting specialist or criminal justice technician.
In addition, students can train to become a specialist in medical skin care or nursery/greenhouses, among other fields.
Classes will also be available in plumbing, turfgrass maintenance, design/media production, PC repair, welding and electrical skills.
“This is a part of our high school completion initiative,” Evans said. “I continue to believe when kids have the opportunity to get dual enrollment credit ... we get them further engaged and they will ultimately finish high school.”
Evans said he’s particularly excited about the certified nursing assistant classes, which he said fits “with the medical presence that grows in Forsyth County.”
“While that might be an entry level program, it’s a way for them to get in the medical field, get experience and then they can follow some additional routes down the road,” he said.
The partnership also will allow Lanier Tech officials to help high school students transition to the college. It will do away with entrance delays, loss of credit or course duplication.
The agreement aligns several high school courses with introductory classes at Lanier Tech, including computer applications, accounting, law enforcement/criminal justice, and various marketing courses.
For some classes, students can earn both high school and college credit, which means they wouldn't have to take them again at Lanier Tech.
“We’ve never had a smooth transition from the students leaving our system in cosmetology and we’ve got two programs at two high schools going to Lanier Tech,” said Genise Tworek, the school system's work force development director.
“Once they graduate from high school, that’s not a difficult transition there, but it hadn’t been happening for us.”
The process will smooth the transition, though the college credit isn’t automatic.
To receive it, high school students must earn at least an 85 percent in a class and score at least a 70 on the validation exam.
Jeff Fitzpatrick, high school coordinator with Lanier Tech, called the agreements a “win-win situation.”
“It gives you the opportunity to offer some courses that you probably couldn’t offer,” he said. “And it gives us the opportunity ... to get the students interested in our school and hopefully we’d like to think that every one of them that’s in dual enrollment will come to school with us.”
Evans said the partnership is also an economic development advantage for the county, training students locally to keep jobs in Forsyth. He said the two entities working together will be a priority for the future of education.
“I hope this establishes the real commitment we have to furthering every partnership possible we can with Lanier Tech,” he said. “Education in this community is all of our responsibilities and it’s our commitment to continue to work toward building on the relationship.”