Guest Column

Education needs partnerships

December 21, 2013 

As I have mentioned on several occasions, partnerships in today’s world of limited resources are imperative. There is no greater need for partnerships than in the education arena.

The development of authentic partnerships is a necessary step as innovative educational institutions seek sustained growth in the 21st century. Johnston Community College has long been committed to building meaningful bridges with key stakeholders that bring tangible benefits to all involved.

As a result of that commitment, our collaborative work with Johnston County Schools has blossomed in recent years. We have a solid reciprocal relationship that allows both the public schools of Johnston County and JCC to be accountable to their primary missions while establishing common ground to achieve shared goals. Among those goals is creating opportunities for students to transition from high school to college seamlessly and with the least amount of stress and strain.

Relieving the stress of college enrollment has taken new life as we have renewed our work with and commitment to students by transforming the public school relationship into its own unique partnership that is multidimensional, multifaceted and results oriented. A new JCC initiative, Agree to Degree, will launch this spring and is a purposely designed partnership to help students move, as efficiently as possible, toward completion of a degree, diploma, certificate or workplace credential.

During my graduate studies, my research led me to evaluate the motivation of community college students to complete their educational pursuits. What I found, even in the early 1990s, was students who intended to complete a degree or certificate were more likely to do so than those who did not have such a goal.

With the development of Agree to Degree, intention can be acted upon in a way that fulfills many hopes and dreams of public school and higher education students in Johnston County. The economic recovery of our county can ill afford for students to exit our institution empty handed.

And so, to help students achieve an intended outcome, Agree to Degree will provide opportunities for students to design their programs of study for a well-defined path to graduation and commit to achieving the end goal.

Students and their support networks will be asked to do their part by valuing education and all the possibilities it provides. JCC will do its part by redesigning and restructuring departments, services and programs to new levels of service and learning.

The N.C. Community College System and the University of North Carolina System join us in this commitment by implementing changes to the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement that will guarantee transfer credit to all 16 UNC schools for a package of general education courses.

We cannot achieve these goals and realize the full promise of our students unless we all invest in partnerships as a key strategy and ongoing priority. Together, we can impact the future success of our students.

David N. Johnson is president of Johnston Community College.

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