LYNDON CENTER -- Students in one of Lyndon Institute teacher Jerry Leonard's precision machining courses recently got a visit from an official at Central Maine Community College, and an offer they could not refuse: the entire group signed up to have the class they are taking at LI in lathing also earn them two credits at the college, which are tuition-free.
The credits can be transferred to any college, stressed Walter Ridlon, the director of Career Pathways for the college, or on graduation from LI, students will have a chance to apply those credits toward an associates degree at the school which can be the foundation for a bachelor's program in mechanical engineering.
For this class, Leonard is now both a teacher at LI and an adjunct professor for Central Maine Community College.
Letters were sent out to parents with the students in Leonard's class, following a presentation by Ridlon with the group of young men, mostly juniors and seniors, clustered around a computer screen looking at the precision machining equipment at the college, the individual work stations, and the array of new equipment, made possible, he noted, through a $1.3 million federal grant the college received.
Ridlon works under the Carl Perkins Vocational Technical Act, which, he said, "requires that postsecondary colleges that receive money from the act develop outreach activities that encourages students to pursue education/training beyond high school. The dual enrollment at LI is one example of those activities," he explained, saying Leonard, too, has additional requirements for the course in his dual role as a college professor now while based at LI.
When students sat down to fill out the paperwork for the college course, Ridlon asked how many were interested, and while all were indicating with head nods and raised hands they wanted to do it, Leonard jumped in and answered, "They're all going to do it!"
Signing onto the college course as part of the dual enrollment opportunity for this course at LI is voluntary, but not a single student in the course is not taking advantage of the chance.
During Ridlon's visit, he talked to the students about prospective employers from ++submarine manufacturers to airplane jet engine companies in New England, employers clamoring for well-trained workers who would earn as much as $19 an hour plus benefits immediately. He said the college was fortunate to be awarded a large grant through the National Science Foundation Grant program and extending precision machining educational opportunities outside the college to other institutions is how the program with LI has been launched this year. He stressed the high level of education and equipment at the college, and students in the LI course have been invited to take a bus trip to Auburn, Maine soon to see the college in person, which is NIMS certified, or National Institute of Metalworking Skills.
"We are going to allow Mr. Leonard to teach one of our classes," Ridlon said. Having begun their college credit earning, he told the young men they will have a leg up on competitors in jobs, and their skill set will outpace others, making them more marketable. "You will enter at a different pay scale in the military," he told those young men planning to enter the service. "Do you understand what I'm saying? Are you beginning to get the drift of what an opportunity this is?" He assured them there was no fine print. "This is a pretty big deal," he said. Only two other high schools in Vermont have the same offer, a school in Middlebury and one in St. Albans, he told the group.
The course the students will earn two college credits for is called Introduction to Lathes, and it will require some extra projects, the note home to students' parents and guardians stated. "In most cases, the curriculums for the high school and the college are fairly similar," the college's explanation continued. 'This course, if taken at the college level, would cost $258, plus the cost of a book and other course fees." But for the group at LI, the course is completely free.
"Once registered for the course, the students will essentially be considered as a part-time student at Central Maine Community College," the explanation continued. Official transcripts can be requested from the Registrar's Office. This will be sent to the college they wish to attend," the community college explained to LI students and their families in the letter. "In summary, it is just like being a student at Central Maine Community College, but taking the course at Lyndon Institute."
Leonard will be using curriculum from the college for the course, and LI will work this year to become certified through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, about a year-long process. Leonard said the course and added opportunities for students will help prepare them for jobs in the region.
For Leonard's students, this is the first dual enrollment opportunity for college credit, he said.
But there are two other avenues at LI already where students can likewise earn college credit, said Twiladawn Perry, the assistant head for special education and technical education at the school.
"Jerry's is the third Technical Education Class to offer students an opportunity to earn college credit while gaining marketable skills. Kathy Schnepf offers a 3 credit Medical Terminology class as part of her Allied Health Curriculum. Last year this was through CCV, this year it will be through Central Maine Community College. Patrice McDonoughÂ´s students have an opportunity to earn credit in Infant and Toddler Development and Fostering Creativity in her Human Services program," noted Perry.
"Along with the opportunity to earn dual enrollment credit, these programs also offer the students a chance to earn Industry Recognized Credentials. In Precision Machining the students are working towards NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills) certification, Allied Health offers the LNA (Licensed Nursing Assistant) and Human Services students work toward their CDA (Child Development Associate)."
Of the three opportunities for students at LI, Perry said, "I am excited that we are able to provide our students with an opportunity to leave Lyndon Institute with the skills needed to be good employees and/or to further their education if they choose."