WEST COLUMBIA — A fresh academic start. Individualized learning. An educational challenge. Those are some of the reasons students in Fairfield County Public Schools might be looking for something new for next fall in the form of a new South Carolina public charter school.
The Midlands Middle College, located on the Airport Campus of Midlands Technical College, will launch in fall 2013 as a charter school. Applications are being accepted through March 15 for interested students. The school is limited to 135 students at its present location.
Carole Farrington, director of Midlands Middle College, said there currently are five students from Fairfield County who are attending the middle college. The school is for juniors and seniors and the amount from this county varies from year to year.
Farrington said that a charter school must adhere to the same rules as any other school but that the school charter provides an opportunity for curriculum flexibility that is not found in traditional public schools. For instance, the current middle college meets Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Farrington said the program focuses on college, career and citizenship readiness.
“Our students come as juniors and complete coursework in high school. Once they earn the 24 credits needed to graduate, the students then cross enroll at technical school,” she said. The majority, 75 percent, go on to Midlands Tech after high school graduation.
College exploration, job shadowing, field studies, workkeys testing and soft skill development are all aspects of the middle college.
“Students like the time it meets. At such a small school everyone knows everyone. It’s a good thing for the students to be on campus, because that location is a motivator to make them behave a certain way (so they fit in with the more mature college students),” she said.
Students take credit bearing classes. Many jobs that are currently open in the state require only a two-year degree, such as information technology, health science jobs and advance manufacturing jobs.
“We want to make sure that our students will be placed in a job at some point and have them develop as people in ways that are beneficial to a community,” Farrington said. “One thing we work on is educating ‘our’ parents of the good jobs that pay well and require two year degrees. In some cases, employers will pay for workers to go back to MTC if there are skills they require on the job.”
She is thankful for the support of Fairfield County Council.
“The Fairfield County Council has been highly supportive of the middle college opportunity for FCHS students. The Council provides a van to transport the FCHS students to and from the Airport Campus of Midlands Tech each day,” she said. “Without the support of the Council, many of our FCHS students would not have had the option to attend classes at MMC and Midlands Tech.”
Middle College, Midlands Technical College and The Midlands Education and Business Alliance (MEBA) all work closely together to get the programs in place to prepare students for the work force of the 21st century. For more information on this tuition free learning opportunity, go to www.midlandsmiddlecollege.com or call (803)822-7043.