Liberty College and Career Academy by the numbers
• 15 pathways offered
• 1 of 26 career academies statewide
• 50,000-square-foot facility
• 700 students can be served
• 2 blocks per day
• 10th-12th grades can attend
• 10 workplace ethics seminars
• $9.6 million construction
Programs available: engineering, teaching, interior design, nutrition, agriculture, construction, graphic communications, architecture, metals, transportation, computer science, culinary arts, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, nursing and cosmetology
Students who prefer hands-on work rather than burying their heads in books will have a new diversion when school is back in session this year.
That’s because the long-awaited Liberty College and Career Academy is on track to welcome students on the first day of school, CEO Tom Alexander said in July.
“Everything about this whole project keeps falling in place,” Alexander said.
The academy is a public charter school 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.
Its mission is to provide students with technical and applied skills beyond the traditional academic curriculum, and it is one in a growing number of facilities statewide.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle championed the education shift to career readiness during a 2011 visit, touting that “not every child is going to college; that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be successful.”
And while part of the academy’s purpose is to provide skills and certifications to those students who may not go on to academic institutions, local officials emphasize that students can enroll in the academy and maintain their collegiate tracks.
“We know now working with young people that most people don’t go on and get a four-year degree, so we think it’s important that high school kids leave us with more than just a diploma,” Alexander said. “We also know that there is an outcry in the business sector that kids come to them being able to do more than just read and write, like being able to work with teams, and be punctual and being able to sit through an interview.”
Students who attend the academy will be required to complete 10 seminars on workplace ethics topics, and they will be eligible to receive certifications through the Georgia Department of Labor’s Georgia Best program.
Courses in 15 of the 22 pathways available in Liberty will be offered at the Airport Road campus for students in grades 10-12.
Academy students will spend half of their days at their home campus and half at the academy, and the school system will provide transportation. The academy also will have labs for virtual learning, so students who need course remediation can do so while still attending the academy.
Alexander said the transition may be a little tight for some students at lunch time, but officials have arranged class meeting times to accommodate the transport.
Liberty County High School Principal Paula Scott said she does not anticipate any transportation issues to the academy because students have been bused to Bradwell Institute for years to participate in technology and industry classes.
Alexander said district officials did a lot of promotion to ensure high enrollment in the school, and it seems to be a success.
At maximum capacity, the academy can serve around 700 students — though operations will begin with about 500 enrolled.
Program presentations were geared toward Panthers during school, the January open house, during three different registration nights and during an eighth-grade parent/student night, Scott said.
“The students were very interested in the programs being offered at the LCCA, and I believe we will see more and more of our students participating in these career pathways,” Scott said. “Some of the most popular programs are culinary arts, graphic arts and nursing.”