RCC, school leaders talk ways to meet needs

Amanda Moss Richmond County Daily Journal

October 23, 2013

HAMLET — Richmond Community College (RCC) and Richmond County schools conducted a joint board meeting on Wednesday to bring the two institutions together and discuss the best ways to help students move from high school to their future career goals.

The Richmond County early college high school program was discussed between the two boards. George Norris, superintendent for Richmond County Schools, spoke on the success of the program.

Norris said that the students in the program were achieving outstanding grades on their end-of-year course exams as well as some receiving scholarship money to various universities.

Due to the high success of the program, the number of applications have dramatically increased.

“The first year we did this we struggled getting applications,” Norris said. “Now we have around 160 applications for the start of the program and we can only accept 54 students.”

The early college program is a five-year program that starts for students in the ninth grade. By the time they are finished with the program the students will have their high school diploma and either a two-year associates degree or two years’ worth of college credits to take to a four-year institution.

Andy Cagle, director of marketing and communications, elaborated on the details of the two boards’ new goal.

“Because of the success we have had with the early college program, we are looking to simulate some of the program in the high schools where students are interested,” Cagle said. “It will be similar to the dual enrollment program, but with a better outline for some of the technical programs we offer. They are called the pathway programs.”

These new “pathway” programs for students at Richmond Senior High School and Leak Street High School will allow students to start preparing for technical degrees as early as junior year of high school.

Tony Clark, vice president for instruction at RCC, spoke on a number of programs the college is expanding and beginning.

“Now, new nurses are required to have a bachelors degree within five years after receiving their associates,” Clark said. “RCC is now starting the regionally increasing baccalaureate nurses (program) to help those here get their bachelors while they are dually enrolled with UNC Pembroke.”

One relatively new program had RCC President Dale McInnis bragging.

“The electric utility substation and relay technology program is unlike any other program in the state,” McInnis said. “It is a program that is designed for jobs that are out there now.”

The substation program sent its first interns to Duke Energy Progress in Hamlet last summer. Nine interns worked their for the summer and seven of those nine were offered a position at the plant.

“This year Duke Energy will be accepting 30 interns and is saying that they will hire 15 of those interns,” McInnis said. “It is a well-paying job that potentially has salaries close to $60,000 a year on average.”

Ultimately the goal for repesentatives from both places of learning was to help smooth the way for students into their future career opportunities.

“As a graduate from the Richmond County school system, and as a parent of a graduate, I am proud of this school system,” McInnis said. “But as proud as I am of it, I am more excited about what we can do for this system.”