Career Center honors notable contributors

The most notable contributors to the Washington County Career Center’s career and technical education programs were recognized by the board at its monthly meeting Thursday evening, while members heard about recent technology and accreditation updates.

Five area professionals were nominated and awarded as outstanding contributors to the Career Center’s various programs-both through donations and educational expertise-that help bring real-world experience to the hands-on classes the programs offer.

“These people we’re recognizing have been instrumental in the success we’ve had at the Washington County Career Center,” said Superintendent Dennis Blatt.

WCCC Secondary Director Mike Elliott nominated and recognized three contributors: Matt Hilverding, chief operations officer and chief financial officer of Pioneer Group; Jeff Smith, a training coordinator for Plumbers & Pipe Fitters; and Jeff White, business manager for Plumbers & Pipe Fitters.

“Were it not for these men, there is no way we would have established our school apprenticeship program for our welders,” Elliott said.

The two companies, Pioneer Group and Plumbers & Pipe Fitters, helped collaborate with the school to create the apprenticeship program that has received statewide applause.

On the medical side, Amy West, director of the surgical tech program, recognized Kelli Stephens, a surgical buyer for Camden Clark Medical Center, and Marcella Will, a clinical education coordinator for Camden Clark, for helping build the program at the career center.

“With her donations, Kelli has shaped the minds of young people. Supplies that we can’t afford, expired or outdated instruments, I cannot thank her enough for,” West said. “With this I am really able to prepare my students in the classroom.”

In addition to the recognitions, Adult Technical Training Director David Combs brought the board up to speed on the school’s current accreditation process, which came about when the previous accreditation agency was ruled ineffective for post-secondary education.

The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges was recently chosen by career center officials to accredit the adult education school, a requirement to receive any financial aid or grants.

Of the list of accreditation criteria, the adult school recently missed four items that Combs said will be corrected and improved immediately, including: Graduate employment rate, ongoing institutional assessment, a student enrollment agreement, and ongoing faculty assessment.

“The biggest thing with (graduate employment rate) is getting in touch with people after they finish,” Combs said. “We’ll be putting out messages on social media, contacting people, and meeting with students before school is out to get more information on their plans.”

The other three are all items that are in existence but will be improved upon and added to, with a more concrete agreement with students about their enrollment options and a three to five year projection of what officials want to bring to programs that they can report to the agency.

Though the school already performs faculty evaluations, the agency asked for more.

“We have been lacking in this in a lot of ways,” Combs said. “Now when new instructors come in, we will be providing a half day of training either in the morning or in the evening to help that.”

The changes must be made by Feb. 28, which will eventually lead to the school receiving its new accreditation.

“It’s a good thing, because it’s all ways we can approve,” Combs said.

Keeping with the rapidly-changing technology demands of the working world, Chief Information Officer Jerry Bradford discussed the tech updates implemented at the school. Increased bandwidth and Internet speeds to make it possible for people to use multiple electronic devices on campus.

Several interactive websites, like Edmodo, a sort of social network that allows teachers and students to communicate about assignments and tests

GradeCam-An instant-read webcam that takes pictures of Scantron tests and produces aggregated data of results

Office 365-A suite of business software that Bradford said will better prepare students for what they would use out in their fields

Purchase of 270 Microsoft Surface tablets for 50 percent off each for students to use in math and English classes

LightRaise short-throw projectors, which project a touchable image onto the wall without a screen that saves about $300 each in comparison to a traditional projector.