Much More Than a Campus

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Paulding County Instructional Site is a valued community member

When Kennesaw state's Paulding County Instructional Site began offering courses in January 2010, it looked more like a ghost town than a college campus. During that spring semester 52 students were enrolled in seven classes. That number dropped to 27 students who were spread between seven courses during summer 2010.

"When I moved from the main campus to the Paulding Site in November 2010," said Anita VanBrackle, site director and faculty-in-residence, "the first question I got was, 'Are you going to close the site?'"

My how things have changed.

More than 166 students registered for spring semester 2012 - increasing the course enrollment numbers to 354 - selecting from 26 courses, including early childhood education, communication, criminal justice, inclusive education, foreign languages and health and physical science.

"People don't ask me that question anymore," VanBrackle said. "I don't think there has been a more timely addition to Kennesaw State's outreach. At the rate we are growing, we anticipate an enrollment of more than 1,000 in the near future."

The site, the former Paulding County courthouse and an adjacent county-owned building, was donated to Kennesaw State University and Georgia Highlands College in 2007 after a University System of Georgia Board of Regents' survey concluded that cooperative efforts between two- and four-year USG institutions would best address the state's needs for new academic programs in growing, underserved areas like Paulding County. At that time, the Atlanta Regional Commission identified Paulding as one of the fastest-growing counties in Georgia, with 170 percent growth over the last 15 years.

After a nearly $1 million renovation, the 31 ,000 square-foot facility featuring state-of-the-art classrooms, computer and science labs, a media library, administrative offices and meeting rooms, opened for classes in January 2010. As the programs continue to multiply, VanBrackle said, the adjacent Winn Building will have to be renovated soon to accommodate the growth.

VanBrackle checked off the accomplishments made since the site opened.

"Two groups of Kennesaw State students have done their student teaching in Paulding schools," she said, her excitement increasing audibly with each word. "We initiated a very successful joint program in early childhood education with Georgia Highlands College and now four other KSU departments have indicated an interest in creating their own joint programs with Georgia Highlands. Our first joint education cohort of 24 students, all early childhood education majors, will graduate next June."

But the Paulding County Instructional Site is much more than a satellite campus.

Kennesaw State faculty members have donated their time to provide education and professional development training for Paulding County elementary teachers, participated in Chamber of Commerce college fairs and given science and math presentations at numerous schools.

After a tornado ripped away part of the roof of Poole Elementary School last March, exposing seven classrooms to drenching rains, VanBrackle and administrative associate Paula Bechtler were at the school a few days later delivering much-needed school supplies.

Kennesaw State is helping to meet the needs of this community," VanBrackle said, "not only as an educational institution, but as a full-fledged community member."

 

-- Neil McGahee


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