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Bell County high school, college partnering to expand class offerings

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:20 AM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - There are some new learning opportunities for students in Temple, both at the high school and Temple College.

The two schools are expanding their cybersecurity classes, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The college took the lead on applying for the grant, which it decided to do after the last 18 months of virtual life.

“With all the technology that was coming out, we all got updates.” Steve Phelps, division director for business and career professions at Temple College, said. “You need this to be secured, you know this needs to be updated, and then you hear about all the hacker issues.”

Phelps said it got them thinking about expanding class offerings in cybersecurity, so that’s why they applied for the grant.

Phelps said Temple College wanted increase enrollment, especially dual enrollment for high school students, and add some classes in the cybersecurity field.

The college said the grant funding will go a long way, including paying for three computer labs, professional development, and a dual credit advisor, which Phelps hopes will help encourage more students to enroll.

“That’s really the impetus for us to show these kids you can, and if you can get the confidence to these students, if they can pass one class if they can even enroll in one class, they are suddenly college students,” Phelps said. “There’s a mental, there’s an emotional factor to that, that I am not just a high school student I am now a college student, I am taking that step.”

Phelps said while cybersecurity is a relatively new field, it is growing, and those types of jobs are coming to Texas.

Temple High School has had cybersecurity and IT programs for several years now. Students can already graduate with a certificate and be career ready.

Denise Ayres, director of career and technical education, said they always consider workforce demand when adding or taking away programs.

Ayres said the pandemic, and reliance on technology, has shown this field is needed.

“It is vital that, that we keep security at all levels, across all industries,” Ayres said. “Because we know that those jobs are out there, and we know that workforce demand is there, we want to prepare students for that.”

Phelps said part of the grant will go toward paying for Temple High School students to take dual credit classes, even ones outside the cybersecurity field. He hopes that will also encourage students to take classes.

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