Agreement with NorthArk will benefit C4 students

Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Eureka Springs superintendent Bryan Pruitt, Green Forest superintendent Matt Summers, North Arkansas College president Randy Esters, Berryville superintendent Owen Powell and Connect 4 board president and Tyson representative Rodney Ellis sign a memorandum of understanding that will allow students in the C4 program to gain concurrent credit at NorthArk.
David Bell / Carroll County News

By Haley Schichtl

Members of the Connect 4 board and North Arkansas College met Friday, Aug. 28, at the college’s Carroll County Center in Berryville to sign a memorandum of understanding to give students in the C4 program concurrent credit if they choose to attend NorthArk.

Berryville superintendent Owen Powell, Eureka Springs superintendent Bryan Pruitt, Green Forest superintendent Matt Summers, NorthArk president Randy Esters and C4 board president and Tyson representative Rodney Ellis all signed the MOU.

Esters said the partnership between the three school districts and Tyson was already a unique opportunity, and to invite a college to join in is even better for the students.

“The opportunity to bridge the gap between K-12, college and industry, is something that not many people get an opportunity to do, so we think this is the future,” Esters said. “We’ve got a long history of serving Carroll County ... and we’ve got the Carroll County Center that we’ve invested a lot of resources in. We see this C4 partnership as the next step in the evolution of this partnership.”

Nell Bonds, dean of outreach and technical programs at NorthArk, said she’s excited for NorthArk to be part of this program.

“I think it’ll be a great opportunity for everybody involved. It’ll get these students started in these fields,” Bonds said. “We hope with this partnership that we continue to improve our programs at NorthArk, and get more advanced training that’ll really help them.”

Bonds said NorthArk has already had several students in the technical field who had been in Carroll County’s C4 program, but now they can get credit for what they do in high school.

“C4 does a great job introducing them to all the different possibilities in industry, so getting them that exposure early helps them determine what they’re interested in,” Bonds said. “There’s everything from manufacturing, to industry, to welding, and even if they want to switch to automotive or collision repair, they’ve gotten a really good foundation in the technical skills.”

NorthArk and C4 are not yet sure which college classes the students will get credit for and how many different opportunities for concurrent credit there will be, but the C4 classes students take during the 2020-2021 school year will count toward something.

“We’re hoping we can build a certificate of proficiency, and a technical certificate that’ll be designed for the students that go through C4,” Bonds said.

With this partnership, the C4 program will stay the same, with the three districts providing the instructors, equipment and space, but C4 may collaborate with NorthArk to make sure its curriculum fulfills college credit requirements. NorthArk will submit an enrollment report to the Office of Skills Development, which will grant the program funding. NorthArk will receive 15 percent and C4 will get 85 percent.

The MOU ends at the end of the school year but the parties may renew it if the partnership goes well.

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