Cullman County Schools/Wallace State Dual Enrollment Program showcased at national conference

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Courtesy of Shane Barnette

Shane Barnette, Dr. Vicki Karolewics and American Association of Community Colleges President Dr. Walter Bumphus

CULLMAN – Earlier this month, Cullman County Board of Education (CCBOE) Superintendent Shane Barnette and Wallace State Community College (WSCC) President Dr. Vicki Karolewics accepted an invitation to attend a national joint meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges and The School Superintendents' Association in Washington, D.C.  Thinking they were going to sit in on a roundtable discussion on high school/community college dual enrollment programs, the two arrived to find themselves on the program.  It turns out that community colleges and system superintendents all over the country are looking at Cullman County Schools and Wallace State, because the partnership between the two is accomplishing things not being done anywhere else.

The CCBOE/WSCC partnership offers several programs to help students get a good education and prepare for great careers:

Fast Track – Students in the 11th and 12th grades can take classes for college credit at WSCC, and work toward an associate degree while working toward high school graduation.  The potential for receiving a high school diploma and an associate in the same year has already been realized.  Last year, because of a fluke in ceremony scheduling, some Cullman County students actually received associate diplomas the week before their high school graduation!

Fast Track to Industry – In one of the partnership's offerings being implemented in only a few other places, students take academic classes at their regular schools, industrial classes at WSCC and spend up to 20 hours per week participating in hands-on apprenticeship at REHAU.  The outcome is a technical certificate and a set of skills necessary for successful industrial employment.  Barnette hopes to see this program expanded in the future, reaching out into other industries and into more local businesses.

Dual Enrollment – Students take advanced placement classes all at their regular schools, and receive up to 30 hours of college credit.

Fine and Performing Arts Academy – The truly unique program, this particular CCBOE/WSCC partner program is the only one of its kind in the United States.  Students go to WSCC for arts classes unavailable in local schools (including graphic arts, computer design, theater, music and others) and receive college credit.  Parents of students in this program will be relieved to know that two-thirds of the costs are covered by WSCC and the CCBOE. 

Another unique feature of the CCBOE/WSCC partnership is the availability of financial aid.  In a pilot program currently offered only at WSCC in Alabama, high school students can now apply for Pell Grants to offset the expenses of dual enrollment and fast track programs.

Barnette is clear about why he and Karolewics have pushed so hard for this.  He wants to see students graduate from high school and make good lives for themselves as adults.

His advice: "We want to encourage any student in the ninth and 10th grades who's interested to ask their guidance counselor about it. We want to help kids be successful."

 

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