Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of articles on Surry Community College and its impact on the community.
YADKINVILLE — In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Surry Community College (SCC), the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce and the Mount Airy and Yadkin Valley chambers and the Pilot Mountain Business Association hosted their monthly business after hours event at the college on Feb. 27.
“It was great that all the chambers could come together to celebrate 50 years of SCC in our area,” said Executive Director of the Yadkin Chamber of Commerce Bobby Todd. “And we look forward to the next 50.”
The event was part of the year-long celebration for the college’s 50th anniversary, said Marion Venable, executive director of the SCC Foundation.
The college has been a cornerstone of higher learning in both Surry and Yadkin counties and SCC President Dr. David Shockley wanted to include representatives from both counties in the celebration.
“It is important to us that this is a celebration for the entire college, which means Surry and Yadkin counties,” Shockley said.
Continuing education courses have been offered in Yadkin County since 1970. In the spring of 2003, the Yadkin Center of Surry Community College opened its doors.
“The Yadkin Center came as a result of a study that the chamber did years ago,” Todd said. “We surveyed our industry and that was one of the things that rang consistent, that they loved our workforce but wanted a local way to continue skills training. Since that time, it has developed not only into that resource, but also for the early college, continuing education and traditional classes as well.”
The Yadkin Center is home to an Early College program for Yadkin County high school students and around 500 students taking continuing education classes and courses towards achieving their associate’s degree from SCC.
“To have our own place to call a community college home is very important to us,” said Wayne Matthews, director of the Yadkin Center. “It gives us a sense of ownership with the college. And I see people in the community taking a sense of pride in that, especially community leaders, folks in economic development and industry leaders.”
Through a joint project between the county, Surry Community College and several financial sponsors, the Yadkin Center will be home to a new Agriculture building, which will allow the college to expand its offerings at the Yadkin Center.
“I think the county commissioners authorizing construction of a second building speaks volumes about the two-way support from the college to citizens and the county to the citizens,” said Todd. “It’s a reflection of that continued growth.”
At the end of 2013, several SCC employees were transferred permanently to the Yadkin Center in order to provide additional services to area students. Craig Smythers serves as the academic advisor at the Yadkin Center and is available to assist students who need help with applications or advising for courses they should take. A second staff member, Anita Pennix, is also now at the Yadkin Center to assist students with financial aid questions.
“I think the students are thankful that it is closer for them to take classes here at the Yadkin Center,” Smythers said. “The location and it being closer to students really works to their benefit.”
Smythers and Pennix also visit Forbush and Starmount high schools several days of the week to meet with students who are interested in applying to SCC.
The new building, which also will be home to the Cooperative Extension, Soil and Water Conservation, Farm Service Agency and Forestry Service offices, will greatly benefit students in Yadkin County.
“I feel like there are going to be more opportunities for students in Yadkin County to take advantage of,” Smythers said.
Courses offered at the Yadkin Center include high school equivalency courses, computer classes and courses for Certified Nurse Assistants and Emergency Medical Technicians.
“We hope to expand our program offerings,” Matthews said. “We want to add other two-year programs and we will also be able to provide additional corporate continuing education classes.”
In addition to 13 new classrooms, which will include two science labs, the new building also will include a banquet space with seating for as many as 300 guests. Large day seminars for continuing education programs can be held in the banquet space.
Matthews said the new building would “become something of a hub for community activities.”
Kitsey E. Burns can be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter@RippleReporterK.