Like most things over the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we think about a lot of things. It has exposed holes
in our institutions, led us to question the status quo and revealed the difficulties of reorganizing and reorganizing the systems that have
long traditional heirlooms.
It has not been more apparent in any sector than in education.
Teachers and parents both received a healthy dose of it as schools switched to virtual learning in a matter of days. It showed us some serious weaknesses
points in our ability to adapt to a virtual world. But it also showed us the dedication and determination of our teachers and gave parents a
renewed appreciation of what the education system offers our children.
While our elementary, middle and high schools have been impacted by the pandemic, our university system, in some ways, has felt it even more severely.
Medical students in all fields were receiving, and still are receiving in some places, all of their vital clinical experience through virtual learning
substitutes. The switch to online courses for social science majors has become an endless list of reading bulletin boards articles and blogs.
The change has been disastrous for them.
But maybe not in the way you might think.
Of course, faculty positions have been drastically reduced, replaced with more auxiliary teaching opportunities that pay very little and require
too many part-time teachers overworked. And there has been a drop in enrollment in some schools, especially in more philosophical schools.
More than anything, however, the pandemic’s pause has more robustly revealed something we have long known.
time: traditional college is not always the answer.
In Citrus County, we have been addressing this need for some time. At the time, we called it Withlacoochee Technical Institute.
Today, although officially known as the college, Withlacoochee Technical College (WTC) is not like the traditional liberal arts colleges that we
have pushed our high school students towards for decades. Children who follow the routes offered by WTC graduates with industry certification
and / or state license.
The transition from school to the workplace – almost immediately – and generally in the field in which they studied and have
As a liberal arts college graduate, I can’t tell you how many of my friends have college degrees and work in non-field jobs.
where they are underpaid, do not use university-acquired skills, and are usually surrounded by colleagues who have not gone to
college at all.
The WTC doesn’t work that way. I am going to list all the programs offered by this gem of the community because it is impressive how convenient and how they are
These required items are: Applied Cyber Security, Auto Collision Technology, Auto Service Technology, Corrections
Officer, Cosmetology, Electricity, Heating, Ventilation, Air conditioning and Refrigeration, Control of industrial machines, Medical
Administrative Assistant, Medical Assistance, Medical Coding / Billing, Specialty Nails, Network Systems Administration, Nursing
Assistant, auxiliary nursing, professional culinary arts and hospitality, technology support services and welding technology.
This is not even all. The WTC also offers cross-correctional programs at Florida Law Enforcement Academy.
law enforcement officers and agents.
Can you think of a time when we won’t need the above professions? Can you imagine what would happen if we ran out of
people qualified in these roles? The more we grow as a society, the more people we will need to fill these jobs.
This is why the Citrus County Construction Academy is so important. Although it is currently a non-profit mobile academy under the Citrus
County Building Alliance, talks about integrating it into a four-year program within the school district and supply industry
certifications are in progress. The ideas launched on the partnership with local businesses and the collaboration with Habitat to
Humanity to help students and new graduates immediately use their new skills not only makes sense, but also incredibly
Keeping skilled workers in Citrus County is a plus for the community.
What I have always loved about Citrus County is that, although small, it has always had an incredibly progressive understanding of
education. We may not be the richest district in the state, but we give our best to the things that matter most. It sets us apart.
University and college are definitely the next step for many Citrus County graduates. Some areas require this type of learning and
some students are made for that. But many children are not. And opportunities like the ever-expanding catalog of programs offered at WTC
and things like the Construction Academy are paving the way for our future by validating and defending vital technical careers.