Barnwell County Career Center ready to train

  • The faculty and staff of the Barnwell County Career Center are pictured with a banner showing they are a Palmetto Gold Award school.

New curriculum changes and resources will assist the Barnwell County Career Center in meeting its goal.

The career center, which includes students from all local high schools, offers 11 programs, from agriculture and drafting to cosmetology.

“We want to train as many people as possible to be employable or ready for higher education,” said Sam McKay, the director of the career center.

The biggest curriculum change affects students in the health science program, which is led by Debbie Dicks and Dawn Wilbanks.

The state is mandating that health science move from a two-year to a three-year program. However, to accommodate students who started last year and will graduate this year, the career center will offer both curriculums this year. This means returning students can complete the program this year while new students will start the new three-year program.

Some changes include replacing sports medicine and pre-medicine with a new year-long class that will teach anatomy to better prepare students, including for college biology entrance tests, said Dicks at a school board meeting earlier this year.

Health science students will still be able to earn certifications as a certified nursing assistant and certified pharmacy technician, but the changes will allow students to also earn additional certification as a Patient Care Technician/Assistant.

“Obtaining this additional certification will enhance the marketability of these students who desire to continue their education in health care, as well as increase their starting pay in the entry level workforce,” said Dicks.

Curriculum for other programs will stay the same, although students in the electricity program will once again be able to earn dual credit through Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, said electricity instructor Ron Still. Criminal justice instructor Tony Littles said his students can earn up to 12 hours of credit with Denmark Technical College due to the addition of two new courses. Dual credit is also offered in other courses.

While Kenny Bates taught the welding program the past 39 years, he retired at the end of last school year. The career center has hired John “Jay” Dukes to take over the program. Once he earns certification through the State Department of Education, welding students will be able to earn dual credit.

The school also has a new school resource officer. Sam Morris resides in Bamberg County and comes to the career center after many years as a police officer in Aiken.

Several programs have received new equipment through state grants, such as an alignment lift for the autotech program. Agriculture instructor Mindy Sandifer said she is excited about a new 20x30 foot barn to house animals because it will “provide more opportunities for hands-on learning”.

Parents are invited to Open House on Sept. 5 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.