Smart Start awards PBS Charlotte grant to fund coding workshops for Pre-K students
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County has awarded WTVI PBS Charlotte a $28,720 Innovation Initiative grant to address the needs of children 0 – 5 years old and their families in Mecklenburg County. Through the end of March, PBS Charlotte is using the money to provide free, weekly computer coding workshops to 65 children enrolled at Hidden Valley Elementary School or who reside in the Hidden Valley corridor, as well as their teachers and parents.
During the 12-week program, Toye Watson, education and outreach coordinator for PBS Charlotte, is “pushing in” to Hidden Valley Elementary School’s Pre-K classes to teach the students foundational coding concepts using the “PBS KIDS ScratchJr” app. ScratchJr utilizes introductory programming language to enable young children (up to 7 years of age) to create their own interactive stories and games featuring their favorite PBS KIDS character.
During each workshop, students further develop their STEM and critical thinking skills, building their characters within the app. To do this, they use basic math concepts to make their characters move, apply simple storytelling concepts to share how their character is interacting with its environment and more. The ScratchJr interface and programming language are developmentally appropriate for younger children and match their cognitive, persona, social and emotional development.
“The future is STEM and technology,” explains Watson. “In fact, one of the fastest moving industries is coding. Studies show that the earlier a child can code, the more likely they are to possess strong mathematical, critical thinking and foundational learning skills – all characteristics that will help them earn a sustainable career in the future.”
In addition to working with the students at the school, Watson is using outside resources, such as the Sugar Creek Library and Sugar Creek Recreation Center, to not only work with Pre-K students in the community, but also to train teachers and parents on how they can best use ScratchJr with the children. These education/training sessions serve many purposes, giving both the teachers and the parents an opportunity to share stories with one another, exchange resources and ask Watson further questions about using ScratchJr in the classroom and at home.
“This initiative convening and mobilizing the community around improving the education outcomes for children 4 to 5 years old in one of the most racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty in Charlotte – the Hidden Valley corridor,” explains Watson. “In 2018-2019, Hidden Valley Elementary School placed in the bottom 50 percent of all schools in North Carolina for overall test scores. My hope is that if we can start educating the children as early as possible, we can provide them with a quality education that puts them in a position of no longer starting their primary education in a deficit, but rather with an advantage.”
The grant’s monies will help Watson accomplish this goal. Funds will be used to:
- purchase Amazon Fire Tablets and WiFi hotspots, to coordinate project work and presentations on the ScratchJr coding program;
- support marketing efforts, to raise awareness of the program within the local community; and
- coordinate a ScratchJr Family Day, to give students and all of their extended family members an opportunity to work together and create a project in ScratchJr.
Throughout the 12-week program, Watson is assessing and tracking data on the effectiveness of the program and its impact on early STEM concepts and skills in the Pre-K children. Students and teachers are taking assessments, and teachers’ journals and childrens’ work samples are being collected to evaluate progress, as well as the program’s impact.
“The promise of an education is that it levels the playing field,” explains Watson. “This grant is helping education live up to its promises.”
Central Piedmont Community College contributes nearly $1 billion to Mecklenburg economy
The results of an economic impact study conducted for Central Piedmont Community College found the institution contributes $827.7 million annually to the Mecklenburg County economy, an amount equal to 0.7 percent of the county’s gross regional product.
Central Piedmont’s measured annual $827.7 million economic impact includes $139.9 million in operations spending, $35.6 million in construction spending, $30.8 million in student spending, and a $621.4-million impact made by college alumni who live and work in Mecklenburg County.
Expressed in terms of jobs, Central Piedmont’s $827.7 million impact supports 11,274 jobs, or about one out of 85 jobs in Mecklenburg County.
“For almost 60 years, Central Piedmont Community College has established a solid record and reputation for making a positive impact in Mecklenburg County,” said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. “We know generations of students and hundreds of employers have been benefitted from having a comprehensive college and workforce development partner such as Central Piedmont serving Charlotte-Mecklenburg. We also know Central Piedmont makes a significant impact as an economic engine, boosting the county’s economy and generating an excellent return on the investment made by students and taxpayers.”
The economic modeling firm Emsi conducted the study, looking at college data from the 2019-20 fiscal year. The study found that for every dollar students invest in their Central Piedmont education they receive $3.80 in future earnings for an annual rate of return of 17 percent. For every dollar of public money invested in the college, taxpayers receive $1.40 for an average rate of return of 2.5 percent. From a societal perspective, for every dollar invested in Central Piedmont, residents in North Carolina receive $6.40 in return from the contributions made by Central Piedmont graduates in the state’s workforce.
For more details about the economic impact study, please read the full Executive Summary of the Economic Value of Central Piedmont or view the Central Piedmont economic impact fact sheet. Both documents are accessible on the college’s Reports and Publications Web page.
“Central Piedmont creates value and helps power the Charlotte-Mecklenburg economic engine in many ways. The college helps students increase their employability and achieve their individual potential. The college helps keep students in the county, generating new dollars and opportunities for Mecklenburg County. Central Piedmont provides students with the education, training, and skills they need to have fulfilling and prosperous careers that provide real economic mobility,” Deitemeyer said.
“The college supports the vast variety of industries in Mecklenburg County, serves county businesses, and benefits society as a whole in North Carolina from an expanded economy and improved quality of life. Additionally, the benefits created by Central Piedmont extend to the state and local government through increased tax revenues and public sector savings. Now, more than ever, as Mecklenburg County emerges from the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, Central Piedmont is a sound investment and critical community partner,” Deitemeyer added.
Enroll in Summer Bridge, Earn Up to Seven Hours of Free College Credits
Central Piedmont is now enrolling for Summer Bridge, a six-week, summer program that gives graduating high school seniors the opportunity to earn up to seven hours of free college credits. Classes focus on math, reading, and writing.
Summer Bridge will be held June 13–July 21, Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.–1:05 p.m. Courses will be offered in a virtual, hybrid, or blended format. (Hybrid and blended classes include both online and some face-to-face instruction.)
Interested? Apply by May 15.
Scholarships are also available for eligible students. Learn more about eligibility, program requirements, information session dates, or download the application.
Questions? Contact the Mentoring and Bridge office at 704.330.6656 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Message to College on Coronavirus: No mask requirements as of March 13
In the days after the college announced its most recent mask guidelines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the nation’s face covering guidelines. As a result, the college will begin to follow CDC direction as of Sunday, March 13, when spring break ends.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday, February 25, that people in areas considered to be low or medium risk can go indoors without masks. As it has since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the college will follow the CDC’s lead.
As of Sunday, March 13, masks will be optional anywhere on Central Piedmont college property and will no longer be required in classrooms and labs.
Nothing prevents students and employees from continuing to wear face coverings wherever they are on campus if they choose. Please keep in mind individuals should not be asked to disclose their vaccination status or why they choose or don’t choose to wear a face covering outside of class. This is private information and should be respected.
Please be understanding as students and employees make their decisions concerning face masks. Please continue to monitor yourself for any COVID-19-related symptoms, and stay home if you feel ill at all. If your symptoms persist, please contact a healthcare provider. Please report if you are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19 by sending a prompt email to email@example.com.
Gov. Cooper Visits, Celebrates College’s Success with Awarding Longleaf Commitment Grants
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper met on Central Piedmont’s Central Campus Thursday with college leadership, elected officials, and students to celebrate Central Piedmont’s success with awarding the Longleaf Commitment Grant to in-need students located throughout the region.
The Longleaf Commitment Grant was originally announced by Gov. Cooper in May 2021 and gives North Carolina high school graduates who plan to attend one of the state’s “Great 58” community colleges the opportunity to receive a grant – not a loan – to cover tuition and fees toward a degree or to attain transfer credit.
Gov Cooper chose to kick off his Longleaf Commitment Grant tour in Charlotte because Central Piedmont has the second highest number of Longleaf Grant recipients among N.C. community colleges. To date, 1,296 Central Piedmont students have received $716,089 in Longleaf Commitment Grant funds.
“We want to make education affordable. We want students to put money in their pockets,” said Gov. Cooper. “The Longleaf Commitment Grants help boost student performance because they allow students to concentrate on their school work. That’s why it’s so important that this grant keeps going and remains available in the future.”
During the press event, Gov. Cooper participated in a roundtable discussion with N.C. Community College System President Thomas Stith III, Central Piedmont President Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Chris Cathcart, N.C. State Senator Joyce Waddell, N.C. House Representative Carolyn Logan, and Longleaf Commitment Grant recipients (and Central Piedmont students) Noemi Henriquez, Katherine Perez Puquir, and Leila Turner.
The group discussed how the grants are helping students pursue their education, the steps Central Piedmont has taken to successfully share publicly that Longleaf Grant funds are available, and more.
“The Longleaf Commitment Grant funds helped ease the financial burden on my mom who was paying for three college-aged children,” explained Turner. “The grant is not only enabling me to hold on to my precious college savings so I can one day use them toward my four-year degree, but it’s also helping me concentrate on my studies and not have to take on a full-time job to pay for my tuition and fees.”
Learn more about the North Carolina Longleaf Commitment Grant, including its requirements, and get connected to helpful resources. Contact Financial Aid for additional information.
Harris Campus helps bring art to the people
Central Piedmont is excited to partner with SouthEnd ARTS to bring “OUTER LIMITS,” a 58-piece art exhibition to its Harris I Second Floor Atrium, located on the college’s Harris Campus, now through August 20, 2022.
The six-month art exhibition, curated by Zaire McPhearson and the largest in SouthEnd ARTS’ history, features the work of more than 30 local artists, including Susan Ballard, Pascale Doxy, Molly English, Daysha Lancaster, Stephanie McCall, and more.
McPhearson is a contemporary artist and Brock Family Instructor at Duke University. Her work incorporates photography, graphic design, painting, sound design, sculpture, as well as other mediums, and reflects the complex issues that shape our diverse, global, and ever-changing world. It is through this lens that McPhearson helped select the artists for the “OUTER LIMITS” exhibition and which works from their portfolios to display.
“This exhibition allows us to educate residents outside of a traditional classroom setting, in new and exciting ways,” explains Moses Fox III, director of campus affairs for Central Piedmont’s Harris Campus. “Artwork engages individuals on a variety of levels – both artistically, emotionally, and spiritually – and we’re proud to bring art to the people, serving the local community as both an educational and arts resource.”
Central Piedmont plans to host a handful of events throughout the six-month exhibition to celebrate the artists’ work. It will hold a private, Jurored Awards Ceremony on March 18 to celebrate the artists’ many accomplishments, and plans to highlight the exhibit more publicly on April 14, from 4 – 7 p.m., during its week-long Sensoria celebration, which is open – and free – to all.
Individuals unable to attend the April 14 event, are invited to visit Harris I, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., to view the exhibition in person. For directions, visit cpcc.edu/locations/harris-campus.
Attend a Career & College Promise Info Session, Earn Tuition-Free College Credits
Central Piedmont invites rising high school juniors and seniors to attend an upcoming Career & College Promise information session, any Monday through July 18, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. (Please note: there is no session on April 18.) The sessions are held virtually via Webex.
Career & College Promise provides seamless dual enrollment educational opportunities to eligible North Carolina high school students, giving them the opportunity to earn college credit tuition-free.
To enter the program, high school students must demonstrate college readiness and meet other eligibility requirements.
See how our students are conquering possibility through the Career & College Promise program:
Message to College on Coronavirus: College Moving to Face-mask-Optional Status Feb. 26
Effective February 26, Central Piedmont Community College will make the use of face masks optional on campus, except for classrooms and labs. Students and faculty members should continue to wear face coverings when in their classes and labs through the end of the 2022 spring semester. This decision was based on the following:
- On February 16, the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners voted to relax COVID-19 safety restrictions in the county, based on recommendations from the Mecklenburg County Health Department. Commissioners voted to end the county face-mask-wearing requirement which had been in place since late-August 2021. Mecklenburg County’s decision to no longer require the use of face masks is based on the rapidly decreasing numbers of positive COVID-19 cases being seen in the county. Beginning February 26, Mecklenburg County will no longer require people to wear face masks in indoor public spaces.
- On February 17, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper encouraged ending all local face mask mandates, based on declining COVID case numbers across the state and the great availability of vaccines.
Nothing prevents employees and students from continuing to wear face coverings wherever they are on campus if they so choose. Please keep in mind individuals should not be asked to disclose their vaccination status or why they choose or don’t choose to wear a face covering outside of class. This is private information and should be respected.
Please be understanding as our employees and students make their decisions concerning face masks outside of class. Please continue to monitor yourself for any COVID-19-related symptoms, and stay home if you feel ill at all. If your symptoms persist, please contact a healthcare provider. Please report if you are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19 by sending a prompt email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mecklenburg County Health Department and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services strongly recommend unvaccinated persons eligible for vaccination be vaccinated as soon as possible. Likewise, Central Piedmont encourages all members of the college community – students, faculty, and staff – to be vaccinated, if they so choose, as soon as possible.
Central Piedmont Selects Artists to Design Mural for New Student Union
Central Piedmont Community College has selected two local artists, Rosalia Torres-Weiner and Felicia Sky Sutton, to create a large-scale mural honoring the past history of the college, documenting the present, and reflecting the aspirations of Central Piedmont students for the future.
Torres-Weiner and Sutton, former Central Piedmont students, were chosen from a highly skilled pool of applicants to work collaboratively with students, faculty, and staff to create an interactive mural. The art work will be located in the dining area of the college’s new student union, a part of Central Piedmont’s new Parr Center complex, located on the Central Campus. The Parr Center will serve as the student services hub and include a new campus library, a 430-seat theater, a rooftop terrace, a 1,100- square-foot art gallery, and a maker’s space for students to explore careers and creativity. The Parr Center will open to students and the public later this year.
According to the project’s request for proposal, the mural’s graphic design will span an 8-foot by 90-foot wall on the first floor of the 184,000-square-foot building. Its placement will benefit from the nearby dining space, which is flooded with natural light thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlook the Charlotte city skyline. The mural will demonstrate the college’s commitment to the fine arts and its support for the creative culture of its surrounding community.
Rosalia Torres-Weiner is an artist, activist and community leader in Charlotte. Her art captures the themes, colors and rich symbolism of her native home of Mexico. She took her first steps toward a creative career by taking graphic design courses at Central Piedmont. After operating a successful interior arts business, Torres-Weiner shifted the focus of her work from commercial art to art activism in 2010, by using her art to document social conditions and to raise awareness about issues affecting immigrant communities such as family separation, access to public education, racism, and moving beyond common stereotypes. Her work is featured in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum and has been exhibited in a variety of venues, including the McColl Center for Arts and Innovation, Levine Museum of the New South, the City of Raleigh Museum, the Latin American Center for Arts Gallery, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and the Mexican Cultural Institute at the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C. Her story “The Magic Kite” was adapted by The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.
Felicia Sky Sutton is an educator, muralist, and multimedia artist who believes art creation and art education are an important pathway to self-empowerment. Working with paint, video, digital illustration, and most recently animation, She captures the essence of her subjects and tells stories through colorful portraiture, symbolism, and visual metaphors. Sutton is passionate about the use of public art to empower, build, and strengthen communities, and to bring new life to forgotten spaces. She attended Central Piedmont’s dual enrollment program before transferring to and graduating from Appalachian State University with a bachelor’s degree in art and visual culture. Her work has been in a number of group and solo exhibitions in Boone, N.C.; Charlotte and, most recently, in Philadelphia. In addition, she has been published in multiple publications and magazines.
College hosts EDI event with community partners
In celebration of Black History Month, the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Council at Central Piedmont Community College hosted a virtual panel discussion today featuring prominent leaders from some of its key partner organizations in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community. The panel was comprised of:
- Kieth Cockrell, president, Bank of America Charlotte
- Chiquitha Lloyd, director of diversity and inclusion, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
- Dr. Dana McDonald, vice president of talent development, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont
- Fernando Little, vice president and chief diversity officer, Atrium Health
During the event, Central Piedmont employees and students had the opportunity to hear the group discuss their personal stories as they relate to equity, diversity, and inclusion; and most importantly, learn about each individual’s professional experiences with actively advocating for and promoting opportunity, access, and fairness within their organizations and in the community-at-large.
“I’d encourage all of you, no matter how you classify yourself or what you think about this campus, to speak up,” said Cockrell during the event. “We all have a voice and we all need to show a willingness to make things better.”
Over the last 18 months, Central Piedmont has hosted a number of EDI related events for both its employees and students to attend. Examples include: inclusive leadership trainings, inclusive teaching practice sessions, examining best EDI practices from other institutions, courageous conversations, and more.
Central Piedmont is offering the events to foster the growth of its employees and students, as well as the institution as a whole. The goal is to deliver a superior collegiate experience for students that supports their success both personally and professionally, while embedding an enhanced EDI philosophy and awareness in the college’s daily practices and processes.