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Unprecedented partnership creates Early College and Career Center

Hardin County Schools, WKU, Central Kentucky Community Foundation and Elizabethtown Community & Technical College are embarking on one of the most dynamic educational partnerships ever forged in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

WKU President Gary Ransdell said: “WKU is grateful to the Central Kentucky Community Foundation for the land and proud to be invited to be a partner with Hardin County Schools and ECTC in this Early College and Career Center. What a great complement to the Central Region Postsecondary Center created in Elizabethtown by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1998." (WKU photo by Bob Skipper)

“WKU is grateful to the Central Kentucky Community Foundation for the land and proud to be invited to be a partner with Hardin County Schools and ECTC in this Early College and Career Center,” WKU President Gary Ransdell said. “What a great complement to the Central Region Postsecondary Center created in Elizabethtown by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1998.” (WKU photo by Bob Skipper)

At a special meeting of the Hardin County Board of Education on Thursday (Jan. 24), the board voted to accept a tract of land from WKU which was made possible through a gift to WKU from the Central Kentucky Community Foundation in 2007.  Hardin County Schools will use the property for the purpose of building an Early College and Career Center.

“We are making the center possible by contributing the most essential asset for the project – land,” CKCF President & CEO Al Rider said.  “The school will be located on 20 acres adjacent to Elizabethtown Community and Technical College on University Drive. This location creates great opportunities for high school students to expand their educational experiences.”

Rider added:  “This endeavor is a wonderful example of synergy. None of us – Central Kentucky Community Foundation, Hardin County Schools, Western Kentucky University or Elizabethtown Community and Technical College – could make this opportunity happen alone. Each brings distinct assets to make this possible for students and ultimately for our community.  The key to our community’s continued success is collaboration and innovation.”

The center will fulfill several roles. High school students in the Hardin County Schools will use the center to take courses in several career pathways. The pathways include, but are not limited to, health science, engineering (the Project Lead the Way curriculum), manufacturing, automotive technology, media arts & communication and culinary arts & hospitality services.

“These are currently the needs of our community’s business and industry,” said HCS Superintendent Nannette Johnston. “The designated pathways are also the areas in which our students have expressed a vested interest.  We know the needs of our community, our students and our world continue to transform.  We will make the necessary adjustments in our pathway offerings as needs and interests change.”

Johnston added:  “The ‘what’ of this center is important, but the most powerful aspect of this concept is the ‘how’. We have heard loud and clear from our business partners that they are longing for workers that have the ‘soft skills’ and work ethic skills to be successful in our community. We share the belief that many of the skills that students need to be successful in life – persistence, resilience, motivation, teamwork, problem solving, responsibility and dependability – are not measured through an assessment. They are present in the performance of the individual through their daily life. Our vision is to continue to work collaboratively with our community and business partners and our post secondary partners to create classroom experiences that parallel the real world. In fact, we are creating an advisory council comprised of many of community members in an effort to keep a pulse of the relevant needs of our community.”

The proximity to Elizabethtown Community and Technical College is vital. Students will be able to easily attend classes at any part of the campus.

“Whether it be dual-credit opportunities or career-centered classes through technical college, our students will benefit greatly from ECTC,” Johnston noted.  “The faculty at ECTC is top-notch and will bring students into bright and exciting new worlds.”

WKU is also prepared to share faculty with Hardin County Schools and offer unique and specially designed courses for students. WKU will also have the availability to offer evening college courses in the new center after HCS high school students dismiss for the day. Through a continuing partnership with ECTC, this center will also offer dual credit and early college enrollment opportunities.

Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nannette Johnston

Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nannette Johnston said the Early College and Career Center will create an important base for economic development. (WKU photo by Bob Skipper)

“Applause to Superintendent Johnston for creating a vision of post secondary degree attainment and economic development for Hardin County,” WKU President Gary Ransdell said. “WKU is grateful to the Central Kentucky Community Foundation for the land and proud to be invited to be a partner with Hardin County Schools and ECTC in this Early College and Career Center. What a great complement to the Central Region Postsecondary Center created in Elizabethtown by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1998. We look forward to working with Hardin County students in new dual enrollment programs and growing baccalaureate degree productivity in the region.”

“We all want what’s best for our communities, our students and our citizens,” said ECTC President/CEO Dr. Thelma White. “This partnership will position us to provide the best possible opportunities for our students, to achieve the dream of a future where every student is prepared to learn, work and succeed in life. We at ECTC are excited about the doors that this Early College and Career Center will open for students in Hardin County, and we embrace our mission as the vital link to increasing baccalaureate degrees and enhancing career training and education in our communities.”

Johnston explained that the center will create an important base for economic development.

“The Central Kentucky Community Foundation and its board of directors have a vision for educational success in Hardin County,” Johnston said. “That vision is a key ingredient to economic development.  Without a strong educational foundation in a community, the future is bleak. However, the Central Kentucky Community Foundation ensures that our economic accomplishments continue. They will partner with us in making sure our students have the best resources available.”

“I cannot begin to show how appreciative we are to the leadership of the CKCF, WKU and ECTC,” Johnston said. “They all bring unbelievable knowledge and foresight to this partnership. The Central Kentucky Community Foundation Board of Directors, the WKU Board of Regents, ECTC’s leadership team and our Board of Education all share a unified vision to provide a unique and unprecedented opportunity for our students. They will graduate from of our schools and leave this early college and career center with the ability to nurture an innovative community for many generations.”

Contact: John Wright, (270) 769-8867.

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