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Career center gets 'provisional' Early College endorsement

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Since 2016, the New Castle Career Center has been an Early College site for Ivy Tech Community College, meaning students can graduate with industry certifications in-hand.

Now, Henry County school leaders have learned that NCCC has crossed another set of hurdles to gain Early College endorsement from the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis.

The CELL Early College program in Indiana is specifically designed to help open educational pathways for kids who are the first generation in their family to go to college.

According to CELL, Early College high schools and career centers break down “the barriers that prevent students from attending college and replaces them with bridges to post-secondary success.” 

The career center began pursuing the CELL endorsement in five years ago under the leadership of former NCCC Director Bob Hobbs and Assistant Director Soni Jones.

“Truly, without them doing that, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said present NCCC Director Chris Lamb.

New Castle Community School Corporation Superintendent Matt Shoemaker, who also serves on the New Castle Career Center Governing Board, said the career center will spend the next year increasing the number of first-generation college students in their programs and expanding the number of pathways for students to earn Ivy Tech credentials.

Shoemaker said the CELL Early College endorsement and partnership with Ivy Tech validates the mission of the career center to offer industry-relevant/real-world training for students.

The CELL endorsement team noted that New Castle Career Center has strong community and business relationships and that the NCCC student assistance fund is “innovative and necessary,” Shoemaker said. 

“For those students moving on to post secondary education, there is a significant cost savings to parents for classes already completed during high school,” Shoemaker said. “For many students, the credentials earned at the career center has opened up many high wage/high demand jobs needed in Henry and surrounding counties.” 

Through the Early College pathways, New Castle Career Center has been able to offer diplomas in technical welding and precision machine technology.

Now, students in health science education have the opportunity to earn Ivy Tech’s pre-nursing certificate. Courses in this pathway meet the pre-requisite requirements for Ivy Tech’s nursing program.

New Castle High School continues to work toward their CELL Early College designation.

Recently-graduated NCHS alumnus Gabi Sorrell was able to attain her Ivy Tech associate’s degree alongside her high school diploma by following an Early College pathway.

NCHS students can also earn their Statewide Transfer General Education Core (STGEC) certificates, earning them college credits that are accepted by all Indiana state-colleges.