In an effort to address equity gaps in enrollment and access, Lenoir Community College (LCC) partnered with Lenoir County Public Schools to provide a structured, unique opportunity for high school students in the district. Thus, the idea of a Lancer Academy was born.
LCC President Dr. Rusty Hunt and Lenoir County Public Schools Superintendent Brent Williams collaborated to strategize ways to close equity gaps. From that collaboration, a task force was formed with college and school personnel to focus on data that was provided by the North Carolina Community College System. The Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research also made recommendations to assist in this effort.
“We are excited about our partnership with Lenoir County Public Schools in creating the Lancer Academy,” Hunt said. “This is about forming relationships with our students and addressing their needs where they are so we can help connect them to programs and services. We hope this academy is just the beginning.”
“We were afforded the opportunity to utilize space at Kinston High School in Kinston, North Carolina. Kinston High School is one of four high schools in Lenoir County,” said LCC Director of Student Success and Equity Athena Wilson. The school is in the city limits of Kinston and the student demographics are 92% Black/African American, 3% white, 2% Hispanic, and 1% Asian.
“Currently, we have less than 10% of students at Kinston High School accessing dual enrollment courses through Career and College Promise. We felt their campus was the best location to house this academy in order to connect with the student population that we have been unable to attract as an institution. It is important to our institution to effectively educate and train all students to impact the economic prosperity of our community and families,” Wilson said.
Lancer Academy will begin with a focus on health sciences. Students will be able to access courses through workforce development pathways (i.e., certified nursing assistant (CNA) and pharmacy tech), career and technical pathways (medical assisting and medical office administration), and transfer pathways (health sciences and nursing pathway).
“We feel that all students should have access to college courses to meet their specific educational and career goals,” Wilson said. “Career and College Promise allows us the flexibility to offer courses in a multitude of ways to ensure that we are truly meeting students where they are and taking them as far as they can go.”
Lancer Academy will be housed in a two story, stand-alone building on the campus of Kinston High School. Students will have access to college instructors, college support services, and college support staff while being conveniently located on their high school campus. The college will employ a full-time Lancer Academy coordinator who will be housed at the academy. The coordinator will assist in scheduling LCC instructors to come to campus, facilitate synchronous courses, monitor students’ academic performance, and coordinate support services for the students. This individual will also work with the middle school and high school staff to help prepare students for this opportunity through seminars, summer bridge programs, and mentoring.
The opportunities and possibilities are endless for this academy.
“Our hope is that students will graduate from high school with not only credentials, certificates, and credits toward a degree that will put them on a path to career and/or college, but also a clear path for which they have been prepared to succeed,” Wilson said. “We believe that students will be connected to their areas of interest early so they can find meaning in the educational opportunities that are available through their high school and through Lancer Academy.”
Wilson said the college anticipates this academy to grow exponentially so that many other pathway options in multiple formats can be offered. “We hope to expand to be able to offer evening and weekend programs to not only support the students, but their families as well,” she said.