Virginia Western Community College is celebrating the success of its expanded offerings in Franklin County in partnership with the Franklin Center in Rocky Mount and Franklin County Public Schools. A pair of grants from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC) are helping high school students take college-level coursework and college students pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Healthcare (STEM-H) fields.

This Fall semester is the first time Virginia Western dual enrollment courses in biology and anatomy have been offered at the Franklin Center. Eighty-eight students from Franklin County High School are participating.

“Franklin County Public Schools is very pleased with our new partnership with The Franklin Center and Virginia Western Community College. The classroom/lab is designed for Advanced Placement Biology, Dual Enrollment Biology and Human Anatomy students,” said Dr. W. Mark Church, Division Superintendent. “The facility is outfitted with state-of-the-art lab equipment, and we are excited that our students have the opportunity to learn in this environment.”

Virginia Western received grants from the TRRC in 2015 and 2016 to equip the biology and the anatomy and physiology labs. This semester, the college’s evening lab classes are full at the Franklin Center with 28 students participating.

“We are thrilled that our students in Franklin County are taking advantage of the opportunity to take lab classes at the Franklin Center,” said Amy White, Dean of the School of STEM at Virginia Western. “They are receiving the same high-quality of education available on campus at a location that is more convenient to them.”

These classes are part of Virginia Western’s expanded offerings at the Franklin Center since it became the sole community college serving the county in 2015. Prior to that, Virginia Western and Patrick Henry Community College cooperatively served Franklin County. Students can now take all the coursework necessary for a Virginia Western general studies associate degree at the Franklin Center.

“We plan to continue offering more classes at the Franklin Center that meet the needs of our students as well as the businesses and industries in Franklin County,” said Dr. Elizabeth Wilmer, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Virginia Western. “The success of our current classes at the Franklin Center speak for themselves and we see many more avenues for positive growth.”

The Franklin Center has computer labs and Wi-Fi service, so students can take classes online, as well as services such as test proctoring, placement testing, assistance with admissions and financial aid.

“The partnership between The Franklin Center, VWCC, and FCPS has made it possible for students to take classes in a state-of-the-art facility while getting college credit,” said Kathy Hodges, Executive Director of the Franklin Center. “The teachers are outstanding and have students who should be role models for others. Thanks to the support from the VA Tobacco Commission, this is truly a match made in heaven.”

The center is also a resource for businesses seeking customized training or certification for their employees. Through Virginia Western’s Workforce Solutions, non-credit classes can be designed and provided to aid professional development and help the bottom line. To learn more about workforce training opportunities in Franklin County, contact Mike Greer at 540-857-6407 or mgreer@virginiawestern.edu.