A July 12 gathering gave its host, Rappahannock Community College, the opportunity to discuss with area school superintendents, school administrators, and county officials the multitude of learning choices they partner to offer. These key educators already participate in RCC’s dual enrollment courses for high school students—most of which lead to simultaneous college credit—but new programs are always being added. RCC’s president, Dr. Elizabeth Crowther, extended a warm welcome to all who attended the meeting. “We value the partnerships the college has with each of you,” she said, “and it takes all of us working together to create career and quality-of-life opportunities in this region.”
Dr. Donna Alexander, RCC’s vice president of instruction and student development, then asked attendees to “focus on college education, which is now more important than ever, as a goal for our region.” Dr. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, pointed out that businesses need to see community colleges as the pipeline to supply employees with the education they must have in order to succeed.
College can—but need not—be an end in itself, DuBois emphasized. “We only talk about college and not about careers,” he said. “We need to tell kids that they can pursue not only degrees but also career certifications.”
The audience of educators entered into a lively discussion of Dr. DuBois’s message, in which a number of strong points were made. The consensus was that there should be a fundamental change in the way students learn and the way teachers teach; they spoke of a need to help students find their passion, and to support them as they become who they want to be. “It’s your passion that will get you where you want to be,” said Dr. Stephen Trexler, director of Bridging Communities Regional Career and Technical Education Center.
A panel of three top-ranked RCC graduates—Savannah Carabin of King George County, Tim Mathis of New Kent County, and Jerry Peters of Middlesex County—talked about the difference between high school and college, and the reasons why some of their peers did not complete their degrees. The biggest barrier, said Carabin, is money; but, she said, “You can get your college degree right here, and stay out of debt.”
“RCC was a resource to allow me to tap into my potential,” said Peters; Mathis agreed, saying, “RCC shaped who I am today, and kept me moving to my end goal.”
The college’s dean of dual enrollment, Canice Graziano, discussed the many opportunities that RCC offers to high school students. In addition to college classes, such events as College and Career Readiness Workshops help these students and their parents to understand the preparation needed to make a successful transition to college. Dr. David Keel, the dean of student development, then detailed the savings that are possible by letting an RCC associate degree be the first two years of a bachelor’s degree, and explained RCC’s Guaranteed Admission Agreements with four-year colleges and universities that make transferring such a smooth process. A summary of the programs offered by RCC’s Workforce and Community Development Centers on each campus was given by workforce development vice president Jason Perry, and director of college advancement Sarah Pope described the variety of scholarships made available by RCC’s Educational Foundation.
Dean of health sciences Charles Smith spoke of the new and expanding programs under his supervision; then Canice Graziano returned with a review of RCC’s outreach efforts, including the recent STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) camp for middle schoolers, which introduced these students to subjects which can lead them toward future careers. A short talk from Dr. Crowther about “How RCC Can Help with Economic Growth in the Service Region” was followed by an open forum of comments and questions from participants, moderated by Dr. Alexander.
Close to 40 outstanding area students who participated in the dual enrollment program received RCC associate degrees or General Education certificates at Commencement 2016 (while concurrently earning high school diplomas), and will use them to transfer to four-year schools. In addition, 113 students earned RCC career studies certificates during this time, through programs based at their high schools or through such institutions as the Bridging Communities Regional Career and Technical Center in New Kent County, or the Northern Neck Technical Center in Warsaw.
Top: Representatives of area school systems met at RCC on July 12. Front row, left to right: Dr. David White, King William County’s superintendent of schools; Dr. Carol Carter, King and Queen County’s superintendent of schools; RCC dean of dual enrollment Canice Graziano; Dr. Donna Alexander, RCC’s vice president of instruction and student development; Morgan Quicke, Richmond County’s county administrator; Steven Parker, Lancaster County’s superintendent of schools; and RCC’s vice president of workforce development, Jason Perry. Second row: Dr. Elizabeth Crowther, RCC’s president; Lesley Hunley, Mathews County’s assistant superintendent of schools; Pamela Smith, Essex County’s interim county administrator; Dr. Rebecca Gates, Northumberland County’s superintendent of schools; Dr. Stephen Trexler, director of Bridging Communities Regional Career and Technical Education Center; and Dr. Byron Bishop, New Kent County’s executive director of curriculum and instruction. Third row: Brent Fedors, Gloucester County’s county administrator; Dr. Kevin Newman, Colonial Beach’s superintendent of schools; Dr. Bernard “Trey” Davis, director of the Northern Neck Technical Center; Frank Pleva, Lancaster County’s county administrator; and Robert Fink, Westmoreland County’s director of planning and community development. Fourth row: Dr. Greg Smith, Richmond County’s superintendent of schools; Dr. Chuck Wagner, Gloucester County’s assistant superintendent for instructional services; and Dr. Michael Perry, Westmoreland County’s superintendent of schools.
Middle: Dr. Glenn Dubois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System and a Deltaville resident, addresses the annual meeting reviewing RCC’s dual enrollment offerings.
Bottom: A panel of three top-ranked RCC graduates talked about the difference between high school and college at a recent meeting between RCC administrators and area school officials. Left to right: Jerry Peters, Savannah Carabin, and Tim Mathis.