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Transitional Studies Awarded Federal Grant

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College was notified earlier this month that it has been awarded a $47,092-federal grant to enhance its Transitional Studies program.

According to Laurie Weston, chair of the PCC Transitional Studies Department, the “Innovations in Transitions” funding will help the college recruit and retain students seeking high school equivalencies and Adult High School Diplomas. She said it will also be used to develop instruction and learning experiences that better meet their needs, interests and career goals.

“We will primarily use the funds for training our teachers how to re-design academic instruction in the context of specific careers and career pathways, with goals that will go beyond high school equivalency completion toward career and post-secondary training,” Weston said.

Training for instructors will also focus on advising and goal-setting so staff can provide students with proactive counseling, guidance, and support as they progress in their studies.

“Transitional Studies coordinators will take on the role of transitions advisors while teachers will provide additional support and guidance at the classroom level,” Weston said.

Another focus, according to Weston, will be to establish partnerships – on and off campus – that connect opportunities, experiences, apprenticeships, and practice in a particular career pathway with academic progress. She said a soon-to-be-established Transition Advisory Board will assist with that endeavor.

Weston explained that board members will help provide publicity about the Transitional Studies program, keep up with job trends in the community and identify needs for the local workforce. In addition to individuals from PCC, she said the board will include representation from community agencies, business and industry, and service groups.

Other Transitional Studies goals, Weston said, include seeking dual enrollment opportunities for students, enrolling students in bridge programs that will help them transition into post-secondary training, and offering short-term, intensive instructional courses that require attendance.

PCC was one of just five North Carolina community colleges, along with the Gaston Literacy Council, to receive a total of $332,673 in grant funding. Seventeen grant applicants did not receive funding approval.

“Very few [applicants] were funded,” Weston said. “So, we are especially proud that (ours) went through.”

Weston says the ultimate goal of PCC’s Transitional Studies changes is to make the career pathways nature of adult basic skills instruction at the college the accepted practice well after the current grant funding period has ended next year.