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West Virginia Virtual Academy, Pierpont Community and Technical College to launch statewide dual credit program

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A signing ceremony will be held Tuesday regarding a new partnership that will bring educational opportunities to learners in every area of the state.

The West Virginia Virtual Academy (WVVA) and Pierpont Community and Technical College (Pierpont) will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont.

The signing will enable WVVA students to take dual credit classes through Pierpont and potentially earn an associate degree, certificate, or college credit toward a degree by the time they graduate high school.

Doug Cipoletti

“The first step is to officially sign a MoU so we can really dig in and really create what the process will be,” WVVA Executive Director Doug Cipoletti said. “Who can attend, what are the requirements, and what are the classes?”

During a recent school choice fair in Morgantown hosted by the Cardinal Institute, Dr. Joni M. Gray, transitional educational specialist at Pierpont, connected with representatives from WVVA. Quickly, Cipoletti and Gray learned they both wanted to find a way for secondary schoolers to earn postsecondary educational credits before they leave high school.

“The idea is one walk, two degrees; that’s the terminology from Pierpont Community and Technical College,” Cipoletti said. “This is their vision, and we want our students to have the opportunity to partake in that.”

Despite the success of the governor’s Nursing Workforce Expansion program, staffing problems in hospitals and clinics across the state persist. Pierpont currently offers several opportunities to earn a certification or credentials in programs like Licensed Practical Nurse, Respiratory, Lab, Emergency Medical Service, and Radiological.

“We want to focus on health care,” Cipoletti said. “The health care industry has many needs, and we’re hopeful we can provide them with credentials that would allow them to get employed and do very well for themselves as soon as they graduate.”

One detail to be ironed out when the MoU is signed is the cost of the program. Cipoletti expects there to be some costs for lab and hands-on instruction, but the goal is to cut costs as much as possible.

“The goal is to provide those courses to them at little or no cost,” Cipoletti said. “We’re still working through those things. Fees and lab fees definitely come into play.”

Cipoletti believes this exposure to post-secondary education will help students develop soft skills that will benefit them in college or in the workplace. There is no data, but Cipoletti also believes this can only help the falling numbers of high school seniors electing to go to college.

“We’re going to be able to provide a foundation that this is the caliber of work you need to do to be successful in college,” Cipoletti said. “Because a lot of colleges have kids come in that are inefficient and not ready for college.”

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