By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia
As the rumble of earth movers and thwack-thwack of industrial nail guns compose a soundtrack for fast-growing West Valley communities, a special educational partnership works to ensure a bright future for its residents.
Construction continues on a pair of new buildings with two more to follow close behind at the West-MEC Northwest Campus, 13201 W. Grand Ave., where students from local high schools participate in technical educational programs on their way to careers.
Kyle Backer, a spokesman for West-MEC, said ongoing construction in the community reflects his organization’s mission and goals.
“The campus is expanding to meet the growing needs of Surprise, along with other cities in the Northwest Valley,” Mr. Backer stated. “The construction of the Northwest Campus has brought us closer to our goal of having a campus within a 20-minute drive of all 12-member school districts.”
West-MEC’s collaboration with the Dysart Unified School District is just one of dozen such partnerships around Arizona, which provide a broad range of educational opportunities to highschoolers and adult learners looking to fill needed roles in growing career fields.
With the opening of their fifth campus in November 2017, West-MEC expanded its reach in the West Valley to include Surprise and other outlying communities to serve the needs of students and businesses alike, Mr. Backer explained.
“Overall, the Northwest Campus is a boon for Surprise because we provide a highly trained and certified workforce, collaborate with business and industry, and aim to serve our communities,” Mr. Backer stated.
Michelle Benham, the director of innovation for DUSD, agreed their collaboration is a value to the community.
“Through the partnership with West-MEC, Dysart students have access to a wide variety of programs and resources that will make them career and college ready,” Ms. Benham stated. “Courses are taught by subject matter experts and allow students the opportunity to meet their career goals as they continue to build on their experiences in Dysart schools and at West-MEC facilities.”
The value of their collaboration is increased with the help of local businesses, who partner to provide internship opportunities, she explained.
“We are grateful that our students have a wide variety of experiences to choose from and that our business and community partners, like the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce, support student growth as their members welcome students as interns,” Ms. Benham stated. “The combination of real-world skills and learning opportunities really is making a difference for our community.”
When it opened last fall, the Northwest Campus, enrolled 211 students seeking certification in a variety of programs, including cosmetology, IT security, public safety, medical assisting and physical therapy.
The number is expected to nearly double in year two, with 388 students projected to attend during the 18-19 school year.
At a cost of $8 million, a pair of new buildings currently under construction will add space for additional programs, including dental assisting and veterinary sciences.
Meanwhile, plans are underway for another pair of new buildings to accommodate biomedical and nursing programs, as well as automotive trades.
Although programming has not been finalized for a third building phase, construction at the nearly 20-acre Surprise campus is on track for completion by fall 2019 with an anticipated total of 144,000 square feet of building space at full buildout, Mr. Backer explained.
The Surprise location will eventually add morning classes and adult education programs to accommodate more than 1,000 students once the expansion is complete, according to Northwest Campus Administrator Holly Medina.
Editor’s note: Matt Roy can be reached at 623-876-2526 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.yourvalley.net.