HAMLET — Richmond County Schools and Richmond Community College have strengthened their partnership to bring new opportunities for career training to Richmond Senior High School students.
Dr. Jeff Maples, interim superintendent, was invited by Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RichmondCC, to talk to the Board of Trustees about their joint efforts to help more students get the skills and credentials they need to be successful beyond high school. Starting this fall, the college will house two faculty members at Richmond Senior High School to teach welding and cyber security classes. A full-time college employee will also be housed at the high school to serve as a career planner for high school students.
“I knew our (Career & College Promise) students were doing well after leaving here and entering universities as sophomores, saving themselves a lot of money and being really ahead of their peers,” said Maples. “But I felt like we weren’t doing a good job with our students who were graduating from high school and waking up the next day and saying, ‘What’s next or what do I do now.’”
Maples explained that he felt they could be doing more to prepare non-university bound students to go to work after high school.
“We need to prepare them for work and make sure these kids can have jobs when they graduate from Richmond Senior High School,” Maples said. “We want to focus more energy on those students who want to stay here in Richmond County and get them ready for careers.”
RichmondCC has been offering welding at Scotland High School for several years, but this is the first time the college will have a instructor dedicated to Richmond Senior High School. High school students who enroll in the welding program as juniors can complete a welding certificate by the time they graduate. With a welding certificate, they can work as entry-level technicians in welding and metalworking industries. There are also career opportunities in construction, manufacturing, fabrication, sales, quality control, supervision and welding-related self-employment.
In the cyber security program, high students will have the opportunity to earn globally recognized industry certifications in technical support, networking and cyber security. These certifications can prepare students for an IT career in digital forensics, network security services, ethical hacking and related areas.
“Between Dr. Maples’ team at the high school and our team here at the college, we’ve hammered out some powerful things in a very short amount of time,” McInnis said. “We’ve always had a good partnership with Richmond County Schools, but I see that good partnership becoming a model partnership for others to follow.”
Kevin Parsons, vice president for instruction, gave further details about the success of that partnership by showing the growth of the Career & College Promise program with Richmond Senior High in just the past year.
“Last fall, we had 282 enrolled in CCP classes from Richmond Senior High School. Currently we have nearly 450 who have expressed interest and who qualify to take CCP classes this fall,” Parsons said. “We are working hard to get all 450 enrolled and in the classes they want.”
Ready, Set, Work
Workforce & Economic Development Program Director Holly Russell gave board members an update on the success of a pre-employment class called Ready, Set, Work, which helps people prepare for job interviews and obtain the soft skills needed to get a job and keep a job. A folder is compiled for each student who successfully completes the course with all the necessary paperwork that a company needs for employment, and these folders are then delivered to the human resources departments of partnering companies.
The college has forged a partnership with Pastor Gary Richardson and his team to run a class at Place of Grace in Rockingham. Russell said the most recent class at Place of Grace had 12 students start and successfully complete the training. As of Monday, all 12 of these students had jobs with local companies.
McInnis said they have received a lot of positive feedback from companies about the Ready, Set, Work program.
“This is a great screening tool for companies. They’re able to use this to make sure they’re interviewing and talking to someone who wants to work and is ready to go to work,” McInnis said.
Construction Project Updates
The board was also given updates on the three renovation and expansion projects the College has in the works. Renovations to the main campus, which will include a student cafeteria, will go out to bid this month with construction expected to begin in July.
The student cafeteria and dining space will be an add-on to its student lounge area in the Lindsey-Petris Building and will overlook the lake. The Lee Building, which is the oldest building on main campus, will get a new entrance, and new space will be created for the Career & Transfer Center, Student Services and Financial Aid.
Construction continues downtown on the Robinette Building, which will house the Leon Levine School of Business & Information Technology. Classes are expected to begin being offered in this new college facility in January 2020.
In Scotland County, the college is on track to be operating a full campus this fall at the Honeycutt Center in Laurinburg. McInnis said they’re working with the county and the school system on the transition of ownership and minor renovations of Covington Street Elementary School, which is where the Scotland County Early College program will be housed. The Morgan Center, which opened this spring semester, is also part of this newly expanding campus.
Wylie Bell is director of marketing and communications for Richmond Community College.