Wallace State breaks ground on Winston County Community Learning Center

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Dignitaries toss shovels of dirt to signify the groundbreaking of the new Wallace State Community College Winston County Community Learning Center. Pictured from left are Arley town council members Roger Fincher and Bob Williams; Carson Clark from Congressman Robert Aderholt’s office; Rep. Tim Wadsworth; WSCC Vice President of Advancement and Innovation Suzanne Harbin; WSCC President Dr. Vicki Karolewics; Matt Woods, ACCS Board of Trustees, 4th District; Arley Mayor Chris Tyree; Arley town council member Devin Guthrie; and Houston Blackwood, Workforce Director for ACCS Innovation Center. (Photo courtesy of WSCC)

ARLEY, Ala. — Wallace State Community College held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday afternoon marking the official beginning of the new Winston County Community Learning Center to be located in Arley next to Meek Baptist Church.

“What a beautiful day to come to Arley, Alabama to talk about something that’s good for all of us and especially good for Winston County, Alabama,” said WSCC President Dr. Vicki Karolewics as she greeted the dozens in attendance.

The Learning Center will allow Wallace State to expand its programs and services in Winston County. The goal is to have the center open for the fall 2022 semester.

“This building will house Wallace State’s Adult Education program (GED, high school diploma), our Adult Education-guided Career Pathways (CDL, Phlebotomy, etc.), Workforce Training program and the Alabama Community College System Innovation Center programs,” Karolewics added. It will also provide limited enrollment services for credit students and the four classrooms can be used by the community, as well as Wallace State students.

Karolewics expressed her appreciation to state legislators who helped secure funding for the modular building that will house the center and the Arley Town Council for offering the 4.2-acre property on which it will be placed for lease at $1 a year.

“We are incredibly grateful for this collaboration to make this center a reality and to better serve the citizens of Winston County,” Karolewics said. “This partnership will contribute to a better quality of life for Winston Countians through instant access to education and training for good-paying jobs.”

“I’ve been waiting on this day for several years,” said Rep. Tim Wadsworth. “We have worked hard to bring a facility here that will help Winston County, not just students, but bring jobs here.”

Wadsworth added, “The purpose of this facility is to educate our youth and also allow dual enrollment. Having people get well trained, get their high school degree will always allow them to have a higher paying job and this center will also grow our community.”

“This will really be a game-changer for your high school students, for your adult education students and it will be a game-changer for your local elected leaders,” said Matt Woods, ACCS Board of Trustees, 4th Congressional District. “When they go out and recruit business and industry, they have a tool now that they can point to that says we’re open for business in Winston County, that we know what we need to provide for you, and that’s a well-trained and highly credentialed workforce. So, the opportunities that will come from this learning center are far greater reaching than anything we might can even see today.”

He continued, “Knowing that Wallace State Community College and Dr. Karolewics’ commitment to excellence, and everything that they do, it gives me great confidence that the good people of Winston County will have a top-notch opportunity through the academic and career technical programs that Wallace State will offer right here at this facility,”

An artist’s rendering depicts what the planned Wallace State Community College Winston County Community Learning Center will look like. The goal is to open in the fall of 2022. The facility will have four classrooms as well as offices for WSCC staff. It will house the college’s Wallace State’s Adult Education, Career Pathways, Workforce Training programs, and Alabama Community College System Innovation Center programs. The facility will also be available for use by the community. (Photo courtesy of WSCC)

Houston Blackwood, Workforce director of ACCS Innovation Center, explained how they will be providing curriculum and supplies for the Learning Center to teach a variety of subjects.

“The Innovation is a support system through the community college system for the community colleges,” Blackwood said. “What we do is design curriculum including the content, the materials, the instructors and source all of the information and hand it over to the college so they can roll out those programs wherever they need them.”

The curriculum is also industry approved, he added, and cover a variety of subjects for short-term training and credentials that could help students obtain high-paying jobs.

As an example, Blackwood noted the curriculum for Fiber Optics Technician training, which could lead to jobs making $20/hour.

“Talk about changing the family tree, quickly,” he said. “That kind of salary and those kind of benefits at a young age or even an older age can really make a difference.”

Suzanne Harbin, WSCC Vice President for Advancement and Innovation announced the creation of an endowed scholarship through the Arley Women’s Club and the WSCC Foundation. In a year or so, the fund will be able to provide its first scholarship to a Meek High School student.