By JOHNSTON FARROW
A huge grant is changing the way Ball High is doing business, and has the potential to earn high school students up to 33 free college hours before they receive their diploma.
Last April, Galveston Independent School District was the lead awardee of the $4 million Galveston Career Connect grant in partnership with Galveston College, Texas A&M University at Galveston, University of Texas Medical Branch, the Galveston Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Solutions and Watson & Assoc. Architects. The Galveston Sustainable Communities Alliance headed up the writing of the grant.
The goal of the GCC program is to strengthen the career skills of high school students by mixing academic and work-based learning experiences. Local employers are actively involved by providing career advice and internships. Individualized career counseling assists students in reaching their academic and career goals.
“It’s a gateway opportunity for those who directly want to go to work or those who are looking for a steppingstone to go to school further,” said Bob Brundrett, program coordinator. “It’s more important than ever to have a postsecondary education, whether that be two-year, four-year or military, and the grant provides the access. This is a true partnership with Galveston College, as most of the certification courses are taught at the college.”
Ball High students have a choice of earning certifications in four areas that lead to living-wage jobs. Pathways include the STEM Engineering pathway with a certification in Autodesk and CAD, and the Emergency Medical Technician pathway, with a certification in EMT Basic an EMT Advanced.
The Health Science Patient Care Technician pathway provides a certified nurse’s assistant certification and a certification in phlebotomy and EKG. The Information Technology pathway provides certifications in A+, CISCO and ORACLE software.
“If you do the EMT piece and could make $30,000 a year, or you can do it part-time and have enough money to pay your tuition,” Brundrett said. “You could finish your associate’s at Galveston College and go onto somewhere else as you work as an EMT while you do that. You have something to fall back on to allow you an income stream to pay for whatever it is you want to do.”
GCC scholars will graduate Ball High with a high school diploma, 12 to 33 semester hours of college credit and work experience through internships, job shadowing and guest speakers. The savings on future college tuition alone could mean thousands of dollars. Participants are required to serve 10 community service hours and will learn to write a résumé, prepare for an interview and nail down time management techniques.
The best part is it’s free to anyone who signs up. The program is taking more than 14 students this year and hopes to serve up to 1,300 students during the course of the program.
For those looking to work their way through college or in need of a living wage job, this is a great head start in the right direction.
For information, students are encouraged to contact Brundrett, [email protected] or 512-965-1257.
Johnston Farrow is the communications specialist for Galveston ISD.