Mineral Area College will begin general education classes in Houston in October, including accommodating area students in the state A+ program that assists with higher education costs.
The announcement came Thursday night during a meeting of the Houston School District board of education.
Dr. Joe Gilgour, president of Mineral Area College, and Rob Harrington, economic development director for the City of Houston, attended the meeting. Classes will be held in new space created as part of the Piney River Technical Center on Spruce Street in downtown Houston. Eventually, it is hoped that students will be able to take a two-year program using their A+ dollars with Mineral Area College and transition for the remaining two years with Drury University, which is already offering classes and partners with Cox College on nursing education.
“I’m very excited. A year ago, everyone said this just wouldn’t happen. Now classes are starting,” said Harrington.
A catalyst to jump-start the program was the acquisition of the 47,000 square foot building by the City of Houston Industrial Development Authority (IDA) from the Houston Development Co. Additional classroom space will soon be created. The partnership also includes the Houston School District and Texas County Memorial Hospital. Both have pledged to work closely with IDA. The Houston City Council contributed funds to help with remodeling.
Dr. Allen Moss, superintendent, said at a community meeting in July that the school district wants to offer technical education classes. Some students currently travel to West Plains to take the courses. The hospital’s interest is to create a workforce from students who are exposed to opportunities at technical center.
Wes Murray, CEO of Texas County Memorial Hospital, said at the meeting earlier in the summer that many of the hospital’s employees began in the same place – becoming a CNA, advancing to become a LPN and later earning an RN degree. He said the hospital is ready to support the venture, whose planning began about 10 months ago, with some donations of equipment and supplies. He also noted that some RNs at the hospital have already stepped in to offer their skills to teach and are working on gaining the proper certifications for teaching.