In 2019, Mr. Stan Bevis, owner of the former Fast Pace Medical building in Collinwood, addressed the Collinwood City Commission. He first said that he and his wife Winnette were very grateful to the people of Collinwood for supporting the very first Fast Pace office, which was originally located in a building on Tennessee Street. He then went on to speak briefly about his father, Carvle Bevis, who passed away several years ago. Stan said that his dad quit school in the 11th grade but went on to become a machinist and provided for his family through that career. Stan then said that he would like to give the building on Tennessee Street that formerly housed Fast Pace to the city of Collinwood to be used as an educational facility. He asked that only two things be carried out; first, that the building would always be used for education; and second, that the building be named the Carvle Bevis Education Center (BEC) in honor of his late father.
The commission was both surprised and delighted at Mr. Bevis’ donation of the building to the city. A discussion followed regarding the possibilities of the building, with everyone in agreement that it should be used for a vocational training facility of some kind.
Wayne County Joint Economic Community Development Board Executive Director Rena Purdy reached out to Heather Warren, Wayne County Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director in mid-February requesting assistance in providing some type of post-secondary training in the Bevis Education Center (BEC-former Fast Pace building) that was donated by the Stan Bevis family in 2019 for the sole purpose of being used as an educational facility. Multiple discussions then occurred between Mrs. Warren, Mrs. Purdy, Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Crump, TCAT Hohenwald, and Columbia State Community College (CoSCC). The City of Collinwood agreed to continue paying all monthly utility expenses at the facility including internet. All post-secondary partners agreed to offer their online courses beginning this fall if the necessary equipment could be installed. TCAT Hohenwald also expressed possible interest in eventually offering some type of medical class since the building is already set up for that type of training. CoSCC agreed to offer virtual proctoring services until they return to full-time in-person attendance. Mrs. Warren took all the recommendations and agreed to write the 2022 Perkins Reserve Regional Career Pathways grant (up to $200,000 award) to include computers and other needed equipment for the BEC, along with a half-time college/career coach and assistants to work at the BEC so it could stay open for around 12-14 hours per day and serve high school juniors and seniors through dual enrollment classes as well as any adults interested in a post-secondary credential.
Tracy Whitehead, Southern Middle Tennessee Pathways Coordinator, was involved in some of the early planning meetings between the post-secondary partners and encouraged Mrs. Warren to expand on the Wayne County Perkins grant proposal and apply for the Innovative High Schools grant.
In the meantime, Rena Purdy also requested that Mrs. Warren attend some online meetings with partners from the Tennessee Forestry Association (TFA) where the construction of the Wayne County Ag Center was mentioned. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with the TFA, is lobbying to make Forestry a Tennessee approved program of study under the Agriculture umbrella for high schools. Much of Alabama’s existing forestry curriculum will be implemented. Mrs. Purdy and Mrs. Warren attended a meeting at TCAT Hohenwald on May 7 with TCAT President Kelli Kea-Carroll, TFA Workforce Development Coordinator Larry Pitts, and Perry County CTE Director Ginger Cagle. TCAT Hohenwald agreed to submit a plan that same day to offer forestry as one of their programs if approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. TCAT Crump and CoSCC both expressed interest in offering postsecondary opportunities in forestry. Collinwood High School (CHS) Agriculture teacher Nathan White agreed to teach the forestry program when it is approved. The forestry component is phase two of the grant, so it will be explored more in the spring of 2022 at the BEC, CHS, and eventually at the Wayne County Ag Center. Hassell & Hughes Lumber Company has agreed to be involved in this project and provide work-based learning placements for students. Using the goals from the original Perkins grant Mrs. Warren revised the project to include more equipment and items not typically obtainable in educational grants such as vehicles for all four Wayne County secondary schools and high-dollar forestry equipment and simulators. One of the innovative components for the proposal is that it launches a forestry training program for high school students who will be able to attend classes for half the day at the Ag Center while spending the rest of their day in a work-based learning placement. To provide these training opportunities the student schedules can be modified to complete math and English graduation requirements virtually with the help of a tutor or certified teacher.
The Innovative High Schools grant was highly competitive. Sixty-one applications were received, and 21 school districts were selected to receive funding beginning at $750,000 with a maximum of $2,000,000. Wayne County’s grant amount is the full $2,000,000.
Major Grant Components—all personnel positions are for two years
- Bevis Education Center Equipment: 20 regular computers; 12 high-powered computers with dual monitors needed for Computer Aided Design, Digital Graphic Design, and Cybersecurity; office chairs/tables for computers; 3 interactive boards; Microsoft Office perpetual licenses; Adobe Photoshop licenses; MajorClarity online career assessment software; 2 networked printer/scanner/copiers with printer consumables; digital camera; 25 Chromebooks with cart; marketing budget for promoting available programs.
- Two half-time college/career coaches to serve all Wayne County students.
- Three educational assistants who will share hours at the BEC so it can be operational for 12-14 hours per day. The assistants will report to the college/career coaches and aid in dual enrollment grant completion and other college-related processes.
- Online fees/textbook fees/industry certification exam fees for dual enrollment students at the BEC.
- Forestry Equipment: Included but not limited to industrial sawmill, horizontal resaw, industrial board edger, planer/moulder, front loading kiln kit, professional chainsaws, wood mizer, feller buncher and other simulators, forklift, trackhoes, skidders, knuckleboom, cutters, etc. including storage facilities to house these items for safety and security.
- Possible additional lower-level Ag teacher once forestry pathway enrollment increases.
- Grant coordinator/work-based learning coordinator to facilitate ordering and securing payment for all equipment, overseeing grant employees, obtaining work-based learning opportunities for all Wayne County work-based learning students including forestry students, and completing necessary paperwork and job site visits as required.
- After-school tutor/certified teacher stipend for students completing coursework virtually or on an alternate schedule.
- Vehicles for all local high schools to transport students and equipment as needed to the BEC, Wayne County Ag Center, and workplace sites as well as three driver positions.
Wayne County CTE Director Heather Warren said, “I am proud to have played a small part in bringing educational opportunities for both high school students and adults to Wayne County, the place I grew up, the place I call home, and the place I love dearly.”
Warren went on to say that the partners plan on posting surveys to determine enrollment interest for specific programs. Follow Wayne County Career & Technical Education on Facebook for more information about available courses at the Bevis Education Center.
Wayne County CTE is looking for work-based learning placements for students for the upcoming school year. Please contact Wayne County CTE Director Heather Warren, [email protected] if your business would like to partner with Wayne County CTE. Placements for all program areas are desired, with a priority focus on forestry placements. Community partnerships are essential for student workforce training and for the grant benefits to be fully realized.