When the administrative offices of Greenbrier County Schools (GCS) relocated over the summer, several educational opportunities simultaneously opened up to the community.
Not least among those opportunities was the establishment of an even closer bond between GCS and New River Community and Technical College (CTC), whose Lewisburg campus became GCS’s new home. The partnership is designed to increase educational opportunities for students, improve services and increase efficiencies for both organizations, according to a news release issued jointly by the two entities under the banner of “The Education Collaborative.”
“It’s not just a matter of convenience,” Schools Superintendent Jeff Bryant said of the co-location of GCS and New River CTC offices. “We have had a lot of collaboration since the move, looking at how we can improve public education and post-secondary education.”
In an interview with The Register-Herald, Bryant pointed to increases in students at Greenbrier West and Greenbrier East high schools taking online classes for New River credit, and the fact that seniors from both high schools were able to spend a day at the college’s Lewisburg campus to learn more about the programs available there. He said the potential advantages to the students are not confined to receiving career and technical education, but also include monetary savings over the costs of attending a larger college or university.
Dr. Bonny Copenhaver, president of New River CTC, spoke in the news release about the collaborative effort.
“New River CTC is on the leading edge of developing career paths with high schools within our region,” Copenhaver said. “As recent legislation calls for greater collaboration between community and technical colleges and high schools, we are demonstrating that we have a true partnership to expand educational opportunities.”
Another opportunity that arose for GCS from the relocation of its offices was the repurposing of the board’s former home on Chestnut Street in Lewisburg. That site is now known as the Greenbrier County Achievement Center, an alternative school for students whose “choices,” Bryant said, resulted in their being expelled from regular classrooms for varying lengths of time.
Students who have been expelled from the county’s middle and high schools attend (separate) classes at the Achievement Center via online virtual courses, with teachers at the center available to lend a helping hand, where needed. They can also email class instructors for assistance. The coursework is the same as that being done by their classmates in regular schools.
“All of those students (at the Achievement Center) have the opportunity to work their way back into their regular schools,” Bryant said.
Current enrollment at the alternative school is around 16 students, he said. Buses bring the students from their homes to the regular schools, and from there they are transported to the Achievement Center.
“We don’t allow them to drive to school,” Bryant said, noting that the behavior that caused the students’ expulsion would also result in their driving privileges being withdrawn.
Previously, expelled students were only brought in from their homes twice a week, he said. But with the Achievement Center, they will be in a classroom situation full-time.
It’s a structure the students appreciate, Bryant said.
“I visit the Achievement Center frequently,” he said. “They’re happier knowing they can keep up with their classwork, and that they’re doing the same work as their peers.”
Rainelle Medical Center provides mental health counselors at all Greenbrier County Schools, Bryant noted. That includes the Achievement Center.
“We do spend a lot of time mentoring our students,” the superintendent emphasized.
Students at the Achievement Center have the chance to do community service projects in the neighborhood where the alternative school is located or at a nearby park. Those activities involve interaction with adult mentors.
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