The Henry County Board of Education changed its policy to allow the four-year-old academy to become a charter college and career academy. Whereas before, students participating in the academy had to be enrolled strictly in Henry County High School — which houses the academy — now as a charter school, any student in any county high school can attend.
The state had to approve the academy as a charter college and career academy, which occurred in October.
Secondly, the county was awarded a $3.4 million Georgia College and Career Academy Project Grant funded through the state legislature. The grant will allow the school to expand in 2014, Uesseler said, which will include building heavy labs for automotive, construction and metal-working courses.
The academy is enrolling for a slew of secondary courses open to ninth- through 12th-grade students for fall 2013.
Courses include accounting, broadcast video production, computer programming, cosmetology, culinary arts, electronics, engineering and engineering graphics and design, banking and investing, public safety, horticultural or plant science, teaching as a profession and veterinary science.
Dual enrollment is also offered through partnerships with Clayton State University, Gordon State College and Southern Crescent Technical College.
Ueseller said dual enrollment is geared more toward juniors and seniors. Students can rack up enough credits to get them through a good portion of core curriculum college classes while earning their high school diploma.
“There are some students who have graduated from high school but have gone on to post-secondary college as a second semester sophomore or junior because they’ve taken enough college courses,” he said.
The secondary courses, as well as dual enrollment, are for students who may seek post-secondary technical training, a two-year college or a four-year university.
Uesseler said he hopes the academy rewrites the traditional definition of post-secondary education.
“Our goal is to get as many students as we can to think about post-secondary education in a different light,” he said. “Most times when we think post-secondary, we think four-year college. But it’s four-year, two-year, trade school, apprenticeship, the military. We’re hoping the academy will change that perception.”
Students can take secondary courses at the academy while earning their high school diploma and immediately enter the work force. Or they can pursue post-secondary education. A student can also participate in dual enrollment and carry those classes to a college or university, or earn a technical certificate to enter the work force.
With diverse education opportunities, Uesseler said not only do students benefit, but so does the community.
A well-rounded work force will not only drive expansion of existing industries and businesses in the county, but bring new ones in, he said.