Author photo

By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

LSCO increases local education, training opportunities


Last updated 2/20/2024 at 7:57pm

Dr. Wendy Elmore and Dr. Tom Johnson, vice president and president of LSCO, on the third floor of the Ron E. Lewis Library. In the background is a construction crane at the steel skeleton of the new $38.1 million Academic Building.

If you've got it, flaunt it.

And Dr. Tom Johnson, president of Lamar State College, loves to flaunt the campus and programs the school offers.

"The thing that I'm most excited about is our graduation rate," he said.

That rate includes students earning a certificate, rather than a two-year degree. "Come in and get a low-cost certificate, then get a job, and then come and get an associate's degree," he said.

Besides the percentage of students graduating through programs, he also brags about students who are the first in their families to attend college. "Well over 70 to 75 percent of graduates have been the first generation to go to higher education," he said.

Dr. Johnson and Dr. Wendy Elmore, executive vice president of the college, spoke about the programs and progress of the campus from his third-story office above the Ron E. Lewis Library.

The south windows overlook Front Street and the Sabine River, while outside the west windows, a tall crane sticks out of the landscape as it works on the campus's new $38.1 million Academic Building. The steel skeleton of the building under construction is also in view. Catacorner on Green Avenue is the old First Baptist Church, which is getting a $6 million addition plus interior design to turn it into an all-purpose welcome and counseling center so prospective students can learn about the programs and enrollment.

Not visible from the president's office, though, is a flat concrete lot to the east. It's the site where students can get a commercial driver's license and learn to drive a school bus or 18-wheel truck rig.

"The city of Orange told us they need dump truck drivers; so we've added a dump truck," Dr. Johnson said.

After all, he also likes to flaunt that he's helping local entities, businesses and industries train people for jobs. The school bus driving program was added after he heard local superintendents talk about a lack of drivers for student bus routes.

Dr. Johnson is also quick to praise local District 21 Representative Dade Phelan and the state legislature, which has approved the expenditures for new buildings and programs. The legislature in the past five years has also lowered tuition rates to draw more students. In addition, local industries, including the new Chevron Phillips Golden Triangle Polymers plant, have helped purchase equipment needed to train process operators. Electromagnetic technology used in the petroleum and chemical processing is also available.

More contributions come from the Stark Foundation, which rescued the century-old brick Baptist Church from flood mold after the congregation abandoned it. The foundation donated the building and annually gives scholarship money to LSCO, Dr. Johnson said.

"Orange County is a great place to be right now," he said.

Dr. Elmore said the campus is adding more training for jobs like construction managers, electricians, and plumbers. And then after getting certificates and jobs, the credits fall under a business associate's degree. They can come back to classes and learn how to run their own electrical or plumbing companies.

LSCO is working with Lamar State College Port Arthur and has a $2 million grant to develop a mobile maritime training unit to provide workers for the shipping industry. Dr. Elmore said the mobile unit, along with a mobile processing unit, are nice to drive to local high schools and show students what kind of jobs and training are available here.

Those mobile units will also help spread the learning and programs to people in Newton and Jasper counties. Dr. Johnson said LSCO has received a T.L.L. Temple Foundation grant for education in rural areas.

Dr. Elmore said soon, the Deweyville ISD in Newton County and adjacent to Orange County, will be getting an early college program for high school students. The program will be introduced to eighth graders so they can decide what to study if they choose to enter the program. Then their freshman year of high school, they will begin taking college classes along with their high school classes. By the time they graduate from high school, they could earn two years of college credits.

Dr. Johnson said West Orange-Stark High has the dual-credit studies and he praised WO-C Superintendent Dr. Rickie Harris for assisting getting the program started.

The new hospital at the Gisela Houseman Medical Center is also going to help LSCO students. For decades now, LSCO has gained a reputation for offering nursing and other medical fields training. Dr. Johnson said the new hospital provides more jobs for graduates and closer place to do supervised training.

Health care training at LSCO includes dental assisting, dental front office, emergency medical services on three levels, massage therapy, message therapy business management, medical assisting, pharmacy technology, pharmacy tech business management, phlebotomy, and pre-professional health science training for vocational nursing and registered nursing transition.

Other course work at the college includes the basic arts and humanities, business studies for things like real estate management, and entrepreneurship.

For industry and management, studies may include commercial truck driving, maritime engine repair, maritime logistics management, and welding.

A broad number of courses also include cosmetology, court reporting, criminal justice, teaching, computer information systems, environmental science, pre-engineering, cybersecurity technology, and natural science.

Dr. Johnson said Orange is working closely with Lamar University and Lamar Institute of Technology in Beaumont, along with LSCPA to develop programs and support each other.


Reader Comments(0)


Our Family of Publications Includes:

County Record
Penny Record

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024