WINNSBORO — Teamwork and collaboration were on display at Fairfield Central High School Wednesday afternoon as officials from Midlands Technical College, SCANA, the School District of Fairfield County and Fairfield Central High school gathered for the ribbon cutting on the schools’ new success center.
The Midlands Technical College/Fairfield Central Success Center gives the college a physical presence in the high school in the form of MTC Program Coordinator Denado Dickson. FCHS Principal David Corley was excited about the boots on the ground inside his school.
He spoke of the need to meet students where they are each day and of the desire to help students take their educations to the next level so they will be prepared for careers.
“The Success Center will enable our students to gain access to Midlands Technical College and explore future career opportunities. The widening gap between available jobs and skilled workers is requiring our students to meet the growing demands of employers,” Corley said.
Programming and networking will help address that gap and prepare students to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy. The Center offers college planning and preparation assistance; information on jobs of the future in Health Sciences, Information Technology (IT), Advanced Manufacturing, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and Alternate Energy; and in-school computerized college entrance testing (ACT COMPASS testing).
Additional services include career search and financial aid workshops, daily parent outreach for targeted students, curriculum guides and support for faculty and staff, and MTC preparation materials and outreach.
MTC President Marshall White Jr. was already impressed by the high school’s STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) based instruction including its new STEM Early College Academy, which is open to current and rising seventh-graders. The academy allows students to take a rigorous course load, including classes from Midlands Tech, so that when the students graduate high school they also have a two-year associate’s degree in science from MTC.
“We hope to show the possibility that is beyond Fairfield Central High School,” White said. “At MTC we offer 150 programs but the majority of jobs in this area are in four clusters: energy, information technology, health care and advanced manufacturing. The students can go on to a four-year institution, but they can graduate from MTC, get one of these jobs to support their livelihood and then pay for college themselves.”
According to White there currently are 9,000 middle skill level jobs in the four clusters that require more than a high school degree but not a college degree — jobs that have average salaries of $65,000 per year.
Jeff Archie, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer with SCE&G, was enthusiastic about the opportunities.
“The opportunities are there and SCANA is truly committed to this county (and making these ideas a reality). We are excited about working with people and are interested in the success of this county for the long haul. We need workers going forward and would love for them to come from Fairfield,” he said.
Principal David Corley and FMH Administrator Mike Williams approached Superintendent Green with the idea of a MTC Success Center on the FCHS campus and Green became a big fan of the proposal.
“We can (use this facility) to achieve excellence through teamwork…. Much can be accomplished if we begin to work together and this is indicative of a partnership for years to come,” Green said. Green said he was thankful the school board gave him the latitude and support to push the envelope for Fairfield County students and emphasized how the district works together as a team.
Fairfield Central High School Student Body President Sierra Robinson mentioned how she is taking an English course for college credit. “I greatly appreciate this room where the greatest minds to walk these halls will be developed,” Robinson said.
J.R. Green, Corley and President White signed an official memorandum of agreement between the school district, high school and MTC. White said the agreement will officially promote a collaborative relationship between FCHS and MTC by providing students with education about available jobs in the community and relating those jobs to life long learning. He said that models of best practice will be used as students are educated in the sciences.
Seniors Kiara Dorsey and Jameika Thompson stopped by the Center Wednesday afternoon to check on their Compass/ACT scores. Dorsey was excited by the Center and said she enjoys using it.
“Mr. (Chris) Dinkins (Principal of the Fairfield County Career and Technology Center and Herald Independent Columnist), who helps out there, is really approachable,” Dorsey said. Jameika Thompson appreciated the opportunities the success center would open, not just for her, but for future Griffins. She is considering MTC among college choices that include Lander and USC Upstate for Elementary Education.
Those feelings were shared by School Board Chair Beth Reid. “I am excited and thrilled about initializing collaboration between these groups and hope it is significant to a path to a bright future for the district,” she said.
Any Fairfield Central High School student can utilize the Center through referrals by teachers, faculty, or by permission of the principal. The Success Center hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday. On Mondays, the center is used by MTC’s Educational Talent Search program. All Educational Talent Search and TRIO students have unlimited access to the Success Center. Local school districts, teachers, and parents can access the center by calling (803) 605-1332.