The Mountain Times

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Stafford Tech students share their expereinces earning advanced credits

While Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin was in Rutland last week, he visited Stafford Technical Center. He was very complimentary calling it a model of what the state should be doing with education. The visit was designed to promote the Governor's dual enrollment plan for the state's high school students.

Essentially, the plan allows students to take college level courses while still in high school and at a discounted cost. Gov. Shumlin outlined his plan earlier in the day at a Legislative Breakfast meeting in Rutland.

"A high school degree is no longer a ticket to prosperity, period. In this economy, if you have a high school degree it is very likely that you will be stuck in a low wage job. If you get some training beyond high school… it's the difference between a $9 job and a $25-$30 job." He said of hourly earning potential. "Any kid that goes to a Vermont high school and is in 11th or 12th grade should be able to take college credit courses in their high school, certified by our college system or any private institution, and for $150 take that course." Shumlin said.  "If you choose, you can get a full year of college experience on your current high school expenditure."   

While he was at Stafford Tech, the Governor spoke with several students who have been making the most of their education by earning college credits or training for a career after school. Stafford student Cassie Ciejko told the Governor and Rutland City Mayor Louras, who stopped by for the discussion, about how she fell in love with the culinary arts and that Stafford Tech helped shape her career path, find a good job and ultimately gain acceptance to a fast track culinary program at Lincoln Culinary Institute in Connecticut.

Courtney Patterson, another student at Stafford Tech, spoke about her experiences in the healthcare program. She has already received her LNA and she will graduate from the school with 18 college credits. Student Amber Fischer impressed the Governor by telling him that not only will she will be the first in her family to graduate high school, but by the time she graduates next year, she will have earned 27 college credits or the equivalent of a full year in college!

As a member of the public service program at Stafford, Amber is certified in HAZMAT, CPR and she works within the community. The Governor was pleased to hear these stories of student progress, "Way to go," he said. "I want to multiply you by a thousand. It just makes so much sense. There is no reason why you can't be earning college credits here."

Gov. Shumlin finished up his tour of the school by speaking with students receiving training to enter the workforce directly. He visited the power mechanics classroom met with members of the cosmetology program who are striving towards state licensure. He was treated to an impromptu session by music students before finishing his tour speaking with adult learners seeking recertification in the healthcare field.