Gov. Bill Lee toured the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology at Hartsville and Livingston Wednesday to review career and technical education with students, faculty and staff.
State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn accompanied the governor on both tours. At Hartsville, they visited with students and faculty in the college’s Industrial Maintenance/Mechatronics, Machine Tool Technology and Welding Technology program classrooms. In each class, they discussed the programs with the students and their instructors, spoke with them about the importance of their training, and observed demonstrations of the technology.
The visits to the two TCATs Hartsville underscored the governor's commitment to career and technical education. “I’ve worked with a lot of skilled tradespeople who are really really skilled and really really good at what they do -- but for most of them, it took a lot longer path for them to gain that expertise. And what I think is, we’ve kind of moved away from vocational education in a lot of ways in our school system and we need to go back,” he told students in TCAT Hartsville’s Machine Tool Technology class
Gov. Lee also told students about the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act, which he proposed and the General Assembly approved this year to fund more dual-enrollment courses for high school students in career and technical education. Dual enrollment allows high school students to take courses at Tennessee’s community and technical colleges, and in some cases earn college credentials at the same time they graduate from high school.
“I’m touring the college because it has some things that I need to see and we need to see. I’m also touring it because it helps me when I look into the faces of students like you, who are excited about the future and are learning things that will give you an opportunity to support your families down the road,” he said.
After concluding the Hartsville tour, the governor told a group of faculty, staff and students assembled in the lobby, “You’re professionals at what you do and that’s the reason that you have such good outcomes and such good results. I’m excited.”
TCAT Hartsville President Mae Wright said the college was excited about the governor’s visit as well. “It’s been a great day. He said numerous times that he came because of the good things he had heard about what we do, so that was really impressive.
“It means he’s vested in what we do and he has confidence in what we do, and he’s telling the world. We have a great thing here; everyone doesn’t know that, but we’re trying to get the word out and the governor coming here is going to help that exponentially,” Wright said.
TCAT Hartsville offers 14 career and technical education programs at the main Hartsville campus and its Wilson County campus, and for high school students at the Tri-County Extension Campus in Red Boiling Springs. In addition to the programs above, its programs include Administrative Office Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Automotive Technology, Computer Information Technology and Practical Nursing.
TCAT Livingston offers 21 programs, including Administrative Office Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Automotive Technology, Building Construction, Information Technology, HVAC, Emergency Medical Technology, Power Line Construction and Maintenance Technology, Practical Nursing, and Welding Technology. It serves students at its main campus and at the Cookeville Higher Education Center and at its Jackson County Instructional Center.
There are 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology across the state, with campuses from Memphis to Mountain City. They are public colleges and part of the College System of Tennessee, governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.