Support for CTE, dual enrollment project continues to grow

Published 2:33 pm Friday, September 24, 2021

Thursday afternoon an official with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission visited Carter County to discuss a collaborative project between Carter County and two local post-secondary education institutions to increase career technical education and dual enrollment opportunities for students.

For the past several months, Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby has been working with Carter County Director of Schools Dr. Tracy McAbee, representatives from Northeast State Community College, and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology to establish a centralized career technical education (CTE) campus for the county’s high schools at the Workforce Development Complex and also launching a middle college path for dual enrollment through Northeast State and TCAT. Through the dual enrollment portion of the project, high school students would have the opportunity to graduate high school with not only their high school diploma but an Associates degree or career certification as well.

“This committee came together and worked hard on a plan of how we can better educate our youth,” said Mayor Woodby. “It will really be a game changer for Carter County. We will be closing those skills gaps in our workforce and providing these students with a career path where they can make a living.”

“It is incumbent upon us to provide that pathway for them,” she added.

Last month, a group representing the partnership traveled to Nashville to share the idea with Governor Bill Lee. And now, word of this unique partnership is spreading throughout state agencies.

Lou Hanemann, the director of legislative affairs for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, reached out to State Senator Rusty Crowe and asked him to set up a meeting with the partnership so he could learn more about the project.

On Thursday, Hanemann met with Mayor Woodby and representatives of Carter County Schools, Northeast State, TCAT, and local legislators Sen. Crowe, Sen. John Lundberg, and Rep. John Holsclaw. Also in attendance were representatives from First Tennessee Development District as well as Kingsport City Schools and Bristol Tennessee City Schools. Hanemann listened as those involved in the project shared their plans and goals.

“What you are doing here with all of these partnerships is exactly what we want to see with these types of programs,” Hanemann told the group.

Hanemann discussed some possible funding sources with the group, including having the local legislative delegation request capital project funds through the state legislature. Once the request is brought to the legislature, Hanemann said THEC could weigh in and support the project.

“We would certainly be willing to champion this project,” Hanemann told the group.

Sen. Crowe, Sen. Lundberg, and Rep. Holsclaw all committed to working with other legislators and the appropriate departments in the state to request funding for the renovations needed at the Workforce Development Complex to make the project a reality. Once that request happens, Hanemann said his department would be willing to help them secure the funding.