While the Liberty College and Career Academy program is under way at Bradwell Institute, CEO Tom Alexander told the board of education last week that LCCA students and teachers should be in their new space at the beginning of next school year.
“They assure us we will be in there this August on the first day of school …,” Alexander said. “It’s moving fast.”
Workers for Parrish Construction Group broke ground on the 50,000-square-foot facility about a year ago on Airport Road in Walthourville.
The project, with a current guaranteed maximum price of about $9.6 million, is receiving funds from multiple sources: a $3.3 million grant from the Technical College System of Georgia, ESPLOST funds and a possible $800,000 state Department of Education grant for equipment.
But the project’s status was not the only news Alexander presented to the board on Thursday. He also said that students are using the construction as an integrated learning experience.
“We’ve had our kids from our construction class and our interior design class be part of this process of getting the building up a running,” he said, as he showed pictures of students from both high schools touring the site.
“We have four more trips scheduled where they’re actually walking them through the site, letting them see the different construction processes going on, asking them questions,” Alexander said.
Interior design students helped select colors, paint schemes and carpet and match furniture for the building.
“I’m real happy that not only are we doing this for the kids, we’re doing it with the kids,” Alexander said.
And that integrated approach is exactly what the academy aims to provide, according to Sonja Duncan, executive director of special programs. Duncan spoke during the presentation to explain the paradigm shift that comes with the Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) pathways.
“There are lots of students out there that, at the end of their four years, aren’t necessarily working in the career that they trained for,” Duncan said. “What we’re wanting to do is streamline that process so that students get an awareness of careers — maybe not a particular fine-detailed occupation, but a career in general, whether it’s business, medical, etc.”
With the shift, career education has become a greater priority at all levels, Duncan said. In elementary school, educators introduce the idea of careers, while middle school focuses on career exploration.
In eighth grade, students make a transition toward choosing a cluster of classes to help them consider a major, and high school classes aim to integrate career experiences with academics.
The goal is to help students spend their time in education more efficiently without reducing their exposure to a variety of disciplines.
In all, there are 22 pathway options in Liberty County schools, and 15 of them will be offered at the LCCA, Alexander said.
Program areas include: engineering, teaching, interior design, nutrition, agriculture, broadcast video production, construction, graphic communications, architecture, metals, transportation, computer science, culinary arts, ROTC, nursing and cosmetology.
The academy is under the supervision of the Liberty County School System in collaboration with Savannah Technical College, the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and the Liberty County Development Authority.