09/04/11 — A chance to get ahead

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A chance to get ahead

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 4, 2011 1:50 AM

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Math instructor Angela Boyette helps Catherine Davis with her basic math skills in her class at Wayne Community College in the Adult High School Program. The program allows students to earn their high school diplomas and college credits at the same time.

Wayne Community College is in the process of transforming its dual enrollment programs -- classes providing high school and college credit.

Two of the more well-known offerings have been cooperative education and Jump Start, allowing students to advance through courses at a fraction of the cost.

But that's about to change, said Anne Millington, director of cooperative education.

Effective Jan. 1, the college will roll out a new program approved by the General Assembly, Career and College Promise. It will replace Jump Start, Ms. Millington said.

"Everything we have will change, so this new program we have will supersede (Jump Start)," she said.

When the recent fall semester began, the existing basic program was still in place, she explained, allowing high school and early college high school students to take advantage of the opportunity to load up on dual credits for courses.

College and Career Promise will actually be even better, Ms. Millington said.

"This is absolutely huge with how high school students will be able to come to this area," she said. "We are supposed to get all the information about the middle of September, but this is the big push to the governor's new program.

"There are going to be pathways for college transfer and career and technical education so there are going to be two paths to it."

Qualifying high school juniors and seniors will be able to enroll in the program, similar to how the Jump Start program was designed. Eligibility and criteria are still being developed for the actual program of study, she said, and in the meantime will follow General Assembly guidelines for dual enrollment.

"But this will change everything," Ms. Millington said. "We will have to get everybody ready and set to go so they can be in class for spring semester. I think if anything the opportunity will widen things a little bit."

Meanwhile, the basic skills department began offering a program this fall that allows students to work on an adult high school diploma or GED, general educational development, certificate while training for a career in health care.

Basic Skills Plus is a statewide community college initiative that provides an accelerated approach to preparing basic skills students for the workforce.

"Legislation was passed last year allowing basic skills teachers, there's not any (funding) but we're allowed to use a certain percentage of our existing budget," said Leigh Goroski, Basic Skills Transition Program Coordinator. "The main goal is to get them to graduate with their GED or adult high school diploma but with a credential and a high demand career path.

"We want them to graduate with a certificate so they can either go into a career or if they choose, to go on to college."

Instead of concentrating solely on attaining a high school diploma, participants in the program will be enrolled in continuing education and/or college credit career courses, officials said.

"Our focus is career readiness," said Mrs. Goroski. "In fact, the N.C. community colleges system has change the department name from adult high school to college and career readiness."

At the outset, the "high demand" field offerings will be in the area of allied health -- nurse aide I, or CNA, emergency medical technician and medical billing and coding.

"Those are the three we're starting with, but then we have a lot of latitude to add as we grow the program," Mrs. Goroski explained. "It's not just getting them into colleges. It's a pathway. We want to have a set plan so they know what they're doing. We want them moving toward a specific career."

Additional options expected to be added next year include applied technology, business and computers and building trades.

Basic Skills Plus will officially start Oct. 17 with the Fall 2 semester. All courses are tuition free for those enrolled in the program. Students only cost will be for textbooks.

Mrs. Goroski will be teaching the introductory, or "college success" class, which will focus on such topics as financial aid, career exploration, test preparation, study skills and resume writing.

"It's up to me to build a relationship with these students -- map out a graduation plan, a career plan," she said.

The program is being marketed to students enrolled in the adult high school program, as well as anyone who needs to bring up job skills. Recruitment is currently under way, with the hope of getting between 15 and 20 students enrolled in the first group.

For more information, call Mrs. Goroski at 739-6918 or Sonja Redmon, Basic Skills Director, at 739-6903.