MUSCATINE, Iowa–In early March, Muscatine County voters approved a bond issue for Muscatine Community College to begin construction on spaces to allow them to expand their career academy programs. July 21, they presented their preliminary plans for expansion to the Rotary Club of Muscatine.
In order to help high school students successfully transition to post secondary education and to begin working towards credentials for in demand jobs they can take shortly after high school, Muscatine Community College will expand their career academies. In partnership with Columbus Junction, Durant, Louisa-Muscatine, Muscatine, and West Liberty high schools, MCC will offer their career academy programs to interested juniors and seniors.
Participants will begin their days at their home high school, taking regular classes for their grade level and eating lunch. Then, in the afternoon, students will go to MCC and take classes in one of several new and existing career academies including manufacturing, culinary, welding, agriculture, nursing, advanced healthcare, automotive repair, construction, welding, and criminal justice. Students will then return to their schools at the end of the day, allowing them to participate in sports and extracurriculars.
Upon completing the program, students will have finished, at no cost, the first semester of a two year program, that will result in them earning either an associates degree or credentials that they can use to get a job right away. Students that graduate with a 3.0 GPA or higher can qualify for a Connections Scholarship that will pay for their first full year of community college. They can also apply for and receive additional scholarships from the Muscatine Community College Foundation for their final semester.
MCC can offer these programs to area high school students at no cost to them or local property tax payers through funding offered by the State of Iowa. Currently, the state offers additional funding to districts based on the number of students concurrently enrolled in programs similar to MCC’s career academies.
In order to facilitate these program expansions, MCC will build an entirely new building particularly suited to adding the automotive repair career academy across the street from the Muskie Early Learning Center and will make an addition to their current welding building. Though material shortages may delay construction on both these facilities, Dean of Instruction Jeremy Pickard estimates that both projects will get completed in a relatively short time. Currently, MCC has placed orders for two steel buildings and expects to get additional details about when they will arrive soon.
As MCC begins working towards opening their newest career academy programs and welcoming students from partner high schools, President Naomi DeWinter believes they will prove quite popular among current and future juniors and seniors. “These are hands-on programs that we think will appeal to a lot of students,” she emphasized.