Educational top brass of the Liberty County School System and Armstrong State University convened Friday at the Liberty College and Career Academy to put the official stamps on two new partnership agreements.
LCSS Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee, Armstrong President Dr. Linda Bleicken, LCCA CEO Tom Alexander, Armstrong College of Education Dean Dr. Charles Ruch and Armstrong College of Science and Technology Dean Dr. Jane Wong signed memorandums that will afford college credit to students who complete the career academy’s engineering and teaching programs.
Alexander opened the event with remarks, stating that he was honored to have the opportunity to “facilitate the culmination of several months of conversations, and work and effort, to provide some really cool opportunities for the young people here in Liberty County.”
Alexander explained that the memorandums mean that “a high-school student can come to the career academy, complete our engineering pathway, and, as a result … (Armstrong) will award them course credit in their … Introduction to Engineering course.”
Similarly, students in the career academy’s Teaching as a Profession pathway will earn credit in an introductory education course at Armstrong, as well as 25 field hours — half of the university’s 50 field-hour requirement.
Alexander also mentioned new opportunities that will allow LCCA’s engineering students to meet with Armstrong’s engineering professors and to shadow the school’s engineering students, to “actually see what it means to be an engineering student.”
Armstrong Liberty Center Director Pete Hoffman said that currently, the Liberty Center offers the first two years’ worth of courses in both the education and engineering programs, and could offer the full programs in the future.
“(A student) finishes with the career academy here, and as soon as they graduate … they can roll right into the Liberty Center, in either one of these programs,” he said. “As we grow, we’ll expand that offering, and eventually … we could offer the entire sequence.”
Dr. Cameron Coates, Engineering Studies program coordinator for Armstrong, said he views the partnership as a step toward growing the local economies and retaining local talent.
“Typically … we get very few engineering students from this area,” he said. “But … you have two very good high schools … so there is a lot of untapped potential.
“Just a simple partnership like this, I think, would spur growth in this area economically,” Coates continued. “If we can get the students here interested and excited (about engineering), they’re the ones who will come back and build the infrastructure, build the technology for this area.”
Lee also spoke about the importance of developing youth who can come back to work locally.
“I’m very passionate about education, passionate about teaching, and many of the teachers that are currently in Liberty County School System’s employ came through Liberty County schools,” she said. “So, I like to see us grow our own, and afford them opportunities to get the leg-up when they go to college, and preferably be able to welcome back these same individuals and put them in our classrooms.”