See what’s new at PTC

PTC, Norwood

BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — To give prospective students and the community the opportunity to see firsthand the variety of programs that Pinellas Technical College has to offer, the St. Pete campus at 901 34th Street South will host an open house on Oct. 15 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Boe Norwood“All our technologies and all our programs will be represented with the instructors,” explained Boe Norwood, the newly named director of the St. Pete campus. “They can actually go to the site where the program is being taught. They can come to register if they want—we’ll be prepared!”

Formerly known as Pinellas Technical Education Center, PTC is receiving a record number of enrollees aiming to pursue lucrative career paths, learn valuable skills or simply broaden their horizons.

“Enrollment over the summer was great!” said Norwood, who has been with PTC for six years. “It was the biggest number we’ve ever taken in for a term.”

With nearly 30 programs available that run a diverse gamut from Auto Collision Repair to Digital Video Production to Practical Nursing, there is no shortage of variety when it comes to available career courses.

Always looking to expand its offerings, the St. Pete campus has recently added new programs such as Applied Welding Technologies and Early Childhood Education. Even with the sizable list of eclectic courses already provided at PTC, Norwood would like to bring more programs to St. Pete.

“I personally would like to try solar energy,” he said. “This is the state of Florida! Just being able to produce our energy by using the sun? We’d love to bring that in!”

Anne-Marie Clarke, assistant director at PTC since 2012, added that she’d like to bring in more technology programs like those that are currently available at the Clearwater campus.

“I would like to see more of the computer-based technology,” said Clarke, who has been in the Pinellas school system for 25 years.

Norwood explained that certain programs had moved to the north campus but have been brought back to St. Pete, like Automotive, Cosmetology and Culinary Arts.

“Those programs are full now, so they were wanted where they were needed!” he stated enthusiastically. “Our goal is to cater to the community.”

PTC also continues to be a venue for community events, and even recently held a packed gathering for Vision 20/20. Norwood stated that PTC is happy to offer its campus for meetings and events of various organizations within the school system, the community and local businesses and industries.

Norwood said that although he feels good about all the students PTC is bringing in, he would love to attract more young people just coming out of high school.

“Our number one focus this year is to get some of these high school graduates,” he stated, adding that he planned to recruit students currently attending high school. And in addition to wanting to get the word out to the parents about what PTC can offer high school age students, he also stressed that PTC can be an affordable alternative to a conventional college or university.

“You can’t even begin to explain the difference in the cost,” he asserted, “when talking about the rising costs between four-year colleges and PTC.”

Some of the PTC programs offer dual enrollment to high school juniors and seniors, to help give students a jump on their career education.

“We’ve had some success stories,” Clarke said, “with some of our formerly dual enrollment students who came back to finish as adults. And they are now ready to start their careers, six months out of high school!”

Norwood underscored that in addition to the “excellent staff of guidance counselors and instructors” involved with PTC, the college will do whatever it can to aid a student with enrollment.

“We’ll go above and beyond to get a student in,” Norwood said firmly. “We’ll find a way.”

Noting that that the average starting salary for many PTC graduates in their new careers is anywhere between $23,000 and $38,000, Norwood said “nine times out of ten” students will graduate without owing a dime, and as many as 85 percent of PTC students take advantage of grants available to them, like the Pell Grant.

“You can do it all here from taking the TABE to getting your GED to starting a career,” he said. “PTC is the place to be. It’s an opportunity to change your life.”

Contact the St. Pete campus of PTC at (727) 893-2500 or visit myptec.org.

At the School Board meeting in August, members voted to rename Pinellas Technical Education Center to Pinellas Technical College.

District administrators say the former name does not adequately describe the scope of the programs and instruction offered at the centers. It also fails to acknowledge the key role the career centers play in our community’s local industry training and economic development.

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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