BY LAUREN HENRY
The Greene Technology Center has plans to become a satellite campus of the Tennessee Technology Center (TTC) in Morristown by next fall, if state approval is granted.
The preliminary, verbal agreement reached within the last several days would add three more courses and make Greene County a true satellite campus, said Jerry Ayers, principal of the Greene Technology Center.
The partnership would allow the Morristown TTC to offer welding, machine tool, and industrial electricity classes at the Greene Technology Center campus on Hal Henard Road.
Ayers, Dr. Vicki Kirk, director of Greene County Schools, and Wayland Seaton, supervisor of high schools for the Greene County School System, visited the Morristown TTC on Tuesday, Nov. 20, to see the campus and discuss the possibility of offering adult TTC courses in Greene County.
"It is a way for the TTC in Morristown to better serve the students in Greene County," Ayers said.
Lynn Elkins, director of the TTC in Morristown, has agreed to pursue a partnership between the two education institutes.
"This is going to be a real opportunity for those kids," Elkins said.
The agreement is dependent upon approval from the accrediting agencies and the Tennessee Board of Regents, which approves all post-secondary programs.
Elkins said the agreement is in the preliminary stages only.
The Morristown TTC offers technical training for adults for job skills in a 10-county region, including Greene County.
"We have a lot of those kids [from Greene County] on campus now. Some drive 45 minutes to an hour. It is a long way to drive for school," Elkins said.
Greene County does not have an adult technology center.
The Greene Technology Center is a joint effort between the Greene County Schools and the Greeneville City Schools to provide high school students with technical training.
However, Ayers said that when his students graduate from high school and the Greene Technology Center, many have a year to a year-and-a-half wait to attend adult technology classes in Morristown.
"If they have to wait one year, to one-and-a-half, we lose them. Life happens," Ayers said.
THREE NEW PROGRAMS
Currently, the Greene Technology Center has a partnership with the TTC in Morristown to offer a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) nursing program at Laughlin Memorial Hospital.
"We went down [to Morristown last week] with the goal of adding three programs," Ayers said. "These three [welding, machine tool, and industrial electricity] go well together."
If the partnership is approved, a student would be able to obtain a technical diploma without leaving Greene County.
The Morristown TTC would oversee curriculum and assist the Greene Technology Center with what additional equipment is needed for the programs.
The Greene Technology currently offers secondary-level welding and machine tool but does not have an industrial electricity program, and has no post-secondary level training except for the LPN program.
"We will offer our professional assistance to them in any way possible," Elkins said about preparing the Greene Technology Center to offer TTC courses.
"This is really big for Greene County to recognize the importance of skills training and the importance of manual labor," Elkins said.
Elkins is aware of the many industries in Greene County and said there are, in particular, numerous welding job opportunities in the county.
She said the TTC in Morristown already works closely with Greene County industries such as Angus-Palm and John Deere Power Products to provide skills training for potential employees.
"This is a work in progress, but we hope to have it up and running next fall," Elkins said.
The approval process may take up to six months, Elkins said.
Ayers said that approval of the arrangement by the local Joint Board of Education is not required, but he said that he will present the partnership and new class offerings before the Joint Board of Education in January as a formality.
The Joint Board of Education consists of the Greeneville Board of Education and the Greene County Board of Education.
The joint board gives oversight to the Greene Technology Center, formerly the Greeneville-Greene County Center for Technology.