Florence-Darlington Tech and Darlington County Schools expand college credit program
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Officials from the Darlington County School District (DCSD) and Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC) formally entered into a groundbreaking partnership on February 15, agreeing to offer dual-credit courses at the B.A. Gary Educational Complex, located in the Darlington County Adult Education and Darlington County Intervention School campus on Magnolia Street.
“This is really a historic event for us. The folks in Darlington County are great educational partners,” said Dr. Ben Dillard, FDTC president, adding that he and DCSD superintendent Dr. Eddie Ingram are very happy to open this pathway for students get a jump on their educational goals.
“I think we both are excited about the opportunity for your graduates to end up with at least their first year of college (credits), and I understand this spring we’re going to have some that will graduate from high school along with their associate degree,” said Dillard.
Presently, FDTC and DCSD offer a number of dual-credit courses to high school students, and several Darlington High seniors will graduate in 2016 with both their high school diploma and a two-year associate degree.
“It’s great that Tech is branching out into the community with these satellite sites, and it’s even better that it’s here on school district property so we’re able to kill two birds with one stone,” said DCSD Adult Education director Chuck Miller. “Our seniors will be able to take one course and have it count twice – as when their English IV class counts at Tech as their Entrance to English.”
Miller said the familiar and convenient location may also help remove some of the fear that prevents adult students and GED testers from pursuing college degrees.
“Especially for some of our folks, going to college is a little intimidating. They may never set foot on (Tech’s) campus just because of the intimidation factor, but because it’s right here in a place they’re comfortable with, they’re more likely to do it,” said Miller.
Dr. Ingram noted that both he and his brother began their college education at two-year institutions, and lauded the partnership that will give DCSD grads an edge when mapping out their work and college plans.
“When kids have an opportunity to start their secondary careers with at least a year’s worth of college credit, it gives them a jump start on their life,” said Dr. Ingram. “For most of my career, we focused on getting kids a diploma, and then might shake their hand and say “good luck to you.” But now we’re more purposeful – we want them to have a plan, and we can only do that by working with business and industry to identify the skills that kids need going forward.”
Ingram added that this dual-credit program will give participating students grounding in “21st Century skills” like collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication, which can make a huge difference when they apply and compete for high-paying jobs, and Dr. Dillard agreed.
“(Our industry partners) are beginning to understand the value of early college dual-credit… they’re excited about this particularly for the young people that are wanting an associate degree,” said Dillard.
Initially, the dual-credit program will offer two courses at the Darlington Center: entry-level psychology, and college readiness, with FDTC instructors teaching the courses. To learn more about the DCSD/FDTC dual-credit courses, visit their websites at: www.darlington.k12.sc.us and www.fdtc.edu. You may also call DCSD Adult Education at (843) 398-2856.