BCCCA gears up for new school year, pathways
by Cheree Dye
Jul 20, 2014 | 2071 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County College and Career Academy instructors, Donna Mathias and Rhonda Hendrix, worked to set up their new health care classrooms before the first day of school. Hendrix, who previously taught at Adairsville High School and is new this year to the BCCCA, will teach exercise physiology. Mathias instructs the nursing assistant and phlebotomy students in her classroom, which is set up in a mock hospital style.

The BCCCA is adding new pathways to its health care and construction programs. This upcoming school year academy students will have the opportunity to complete classes in phlebotomy and advance welding.

The advance welding pathway is designed to provide students with the basic knowledge and safe operating skills needed to demonstrate proper set of equipment in oxyfuel, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, and Gas Metal Arc Welding. Welding symbols will be used to interpret detailed drawing used for fabrication. American Welding Society codes will be used to determine the soundness of welds.

The health care options offered at BCCCA are nursing assistant; exercise physiology, which will lead to a personal trainer certificate; and phlebotomy technician. The aspects introduced this year to the health care pathway are the phlebotomy technician and the ability to earn a personal trainer certificate. The school previously taught exercise physiology but students did not have the opportunity to complete requirements for a certificate.

Nearly 180 of the approximately 500 BCCCA students are enrolled in health care classes, with 79 taking nursing assistant courses, 24 in phlebotomy and 26 in exercise physiology. Forty students have earned their certified nursing assistant licenses since the program began.

Mathias said, “We meet with local industries to find what their personnel needs are and we tailor the college and career academy to meet those needs.

“For example, I met with the hospital and let them know we wanted to expand our course offerings. We asked them what their top two needs were and they told us pharmacy tech and phlebotomy, so we are adding those to our offerings.

“Due to the fact that we have three high schools that feed to the academy, it does take some planning and scheduling to bring in new programs. We were able to work out the phlebotomy option for this year but we won’t add the pharmacy tech until the 2015-2016 school year.”

Rhonda Sweet, director of staff development at Cartersville Medical Center, connects BCCCA students with hospital staff for clinical rotations and shadowing.

“The programs are a very good solid assets for our community. As the community grows, we will need more health care providers and this helps us to keep our best and brightest in the area,” Sweet said.

Dual enrollment is encouraged heavily at the BCCCA. Eligible 11th- and 12th-graders have the option to attend college classes at Georgia Highlands College or Chattahoochee Technical College while in high school.

“Each year a student has the ability to complete four college classes each year under specific dual enrollment programs,” Mathias said. “For CTC, their student technology fee is around $265 per semester. HOPE pays for a certain percentage of the college tuition and Chattahoochee Tech provides the text book. Tuition is basically paid. Also, if a student shows need they can apply for a scholarship through the Etowah Foundation and it will pay all but $50. So some of these kids —the ones who are eligible for the need-based scholarship— can get four college classes spread out over two semesters for $100.”

Hendrix, who has a background in dental hygiene and teaching, feels passionately about the benefits of BCCCA.

Hendrix said, “Parents can save a tremendous amount of money in college tuition if their child graduates high school and already has simultaneously completed their freshman year and possibly some of their sophomore year of college. We have one student graduating this year that is nine credits away from completing her associates degree at CTC and graduating high school at the same time.

“To take the CNA course at local colleges its $999 and the CNA certification test is $112, so they are spending about a $1000 to get the CNA license if they wait to do it after high school. The same goes for the phlebotomy course. A student coming into the College and Career Academy as a sophomore this year can conceivably graduate high school with four health care certificates and already have almost all the required college courses finished for a two-year degree.”

According to the Georgia College & Career Academies website, georgiacareeracademies.org, Georgia has 29 similar institutions spread throughout the state.

Hendrix said, “We go to the community and find their needs. Those needs will change from time to time and we try to adapt our programs so that these students are workforce ready when they graduate. I believe that a decade from now you will see less employers in Bartow County going outside the county for trained, ready workers. This really is on the cutting edge of education and it’s right here in Bartow County.”