More students pursue dual enrollment after county schools offer transportation

Published 2:24 am Thursday, August 3, 2017

Covington County Schools has had great response to the dual enrollment program offered at LBWCC’s MacArthur Campus since the system decided to offer transportation.

In fact, nearly 75 have signed up.

“We hope to have at least 25 from each school by the time school starts,” Career Tech Coordinator Chris Thomasson said.

So, far the county has 34 signed up from Straughn High School, 10 signed up from Florala High School, 15 from Pleasant Home School and 15 from Red Level High School, he said.

In June, Thomasson announced the county school system was able to work out the logistics to transport students free of charge during the regular school day to the MacArthur Campus to study air conditioning and refrigeration, automotive mechanics, computer science, diesel mechanics, industrial electronics, medical and office administration and welding.

Students will have the opportunity to complete a degree program at the same time they earn their high school diploma if they begin their technical studies their sophomore year.

“We have so many students who are wanting to start their programs early,’ he said. “What we are seeing from workforce development is there is a major shortage in those types of jobs.”

Thomasson said the programs at LBWCC have had students getting jobs in Dothan, Eufaula, Ozark and Montgomery.

“These smart plants for the auto industry have to have these people,” he said.

They are also teaching them soft skills – come to work, come to work on time, drug test, put cell phone down for eight hours, work well with others, he said.

Graduation and diploma means a lot when talking students into participating in these programs.

Thomasson said there were recently 10 kids who lacked one more class, and they got snatched up for jobs. Each class is a certification in a lot of the degree fields.

Thomasson said for a lot of students, having the ability to go to college for free, while in high school will help them make a change in how their life situation is.

“We can stand in front of students who want to make a change from what they have grown up in and say,’You can make a change,’ ” he said. “Those who don’t have a chance or have no hope, now have hope. They can get a high school diploma and a college diploma at the same time.”

County Schools curriculum and professional development coordinator Nikki Guilford said that these programs allow them to see students who were not previously motivated get motivated.

“Not all kids like English or Algebra I or Algebra II,” she said. “But with these programs, it can take those not interested in English or math, and they can say, ‘but I can do this and do it well.’”

Guilford said that some of the kids come out of the programs at 18 or 19 and are making more than what she makes with a four-year degree.

“This allows them to see their future in a new way,” she said.

Guilford said the program will also help the community attract businesses.

“If we can produce students who come out of high school with these skills, industry will come,” she said. “Our community is great, but one thing we lack is a skilled workforce. We hope that with this program, we will see industry that previously may not have been interested in coming in.”

Thomasson said for so long educators have focused on thinking that all students were college material.

“And they aren’t, and we’re losing them that way,” he said. “Here, a lot of them think, ‘when will that offshore or oil industry be able to hire me?’”