Early College Polytech Academy students, faculty, staff and distinguished guests gathered on Nov. 9 to honor State Senator Todd Gardenhire for his support of the Early College Mechatronics program at Chattanooga State Community College. “Because of Senator Gardenhire’s leadership in sponsoring important legislation, high school students are able to receive a college education for in-demand careers,” stated Chattanooga State President Dr. Rebecca Ashford.
“Chattanooga was one of four Tennessee Community Colleges receiving $250,000, benefiting from a $1 million appropriation in this year’s State Budget, which would not have been possible without the leadership of Senator Gardenhire,” said College System of Tennessee Chancellor Dr. Flora Tydings.
Engineering and Information Technologies department head Lyn Potter lights up when she thinks about Polytech and the students involved. “It’s one of my favorite things about working at Chattanooga State,” she remarked. Students enrolled in Polytech began the 2017 fall semester with an ACT score of 19.3, and by spring 2018, the average score had risen to 20.
Potter continues to explain that it’s not all about academics. “It’s about fitting in, feeling safe and being able to grow,” she said. During fall 2017 when asked if students would help another student who was not a friend, 33.3 percent said yes. Comparing answers to the same question asked during the spring 2018 semester, Potter found that 88.9 percent of students answered yes. “Our students are building a learning community where they can rely on each other,” shares Potter proudly.
Student guest speakers expressed appreciation to Senator Gardenhire for the opportunities that Polytech Academy provides by helping them feel a lot more confident about what they want to do in life. They all shared similar thoughts and experiences with the audience that included expecting to have an outstanding day every day, enjoying the “spirit” their cohort group provides, experiencing personal growth through the program, making their own educational choices, and appreciating the freedom that comes from being a college student.
Senator Gardenhire’s support has helped to change the lives of ChattState’s young community by challenging them to succeed. Students now take pride in their accomplishments as Polytech Academy continues to motivate them toward a bright future.
Chattanooga State consistently offers a high-quality education with an 18:1 student-to-teacher ratio, 97 percent job placement rate, and 98 percent licensure pass rate. For more information about Early College pathways, including Polytech Academy, visit www.chattanoogastate.edu/early-college-pathways.