Tech center gets college coach

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By Todd Martin

The Shelby County Area Technology Center soon will start helping students with much more than technical skills.

Area Supervisor Mary Stratton applied for and received a grant f that will put a College Coach in the school by the start of November. The coach will help students from the ATC, SCHS and Collins.

The College Coach program was started by a combined effort between Berea College and the Kentucky Campus Compact. The cost is split between the applying schools and the grant. The coach will make roughly $12,000, with $6,000 from the Shelby County district.

The coach will be selected from local applicants and a pool of AmeriCorps members. The federal grant money comes from the same department that funds the AmeriCorps program.

"The near-peer model takes recent college graduates and puts them in position to help students make college decisions," said Gayle Hilleke, the executive director of Kentucky Campus Compact. "They will help students find financial aid, choose college, improve on entry tests and everything else students go through before heading off to college."

And the help doesn't stop with students.

"The position will put a coach with a cohort of 50 students that they will work with for the year," she said "They will give hands on help with any part of the college experience, from choosing a school to financial aid and filling out applications. The, in addition to that, he will be available to the whole school to help with parent nights, career fairs and faculty to help students in the most effective way."

The principals choose the 50 students, Hilleke said,

"We're aiming for students in the middle," Hilleke said. "We want to try to help the ones that are maybe the first generation in their family to go to college, have grades in the middle or lower test scores. We're looking for those students that might need some extra help."

The ATC is beginning to take applications, and those interested locally can apply at my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/publicRequestSearch.do or, for more information, call ATC Principal Susan Wiley.

The College Coach position in Shelby County is one of 65 in the state and one of 13 at Area Technology schools. If a local applicant is chosen, he or she would become an AmeriCorps member, which comes with another bonus.

"The position runs through the end of August, and at that time the AmeriCorps member will receive a five thousand dollar academic award that can be used to pay for college loans or can be put toward future education expenses if they want to go back to school," Hilleke said.