GRAY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT)–Elizabethton welcomed students for the first day of classes at its new Boones Creek Extension on Monday.
The college now occupies part of the former Boones Creek Elementary School.
Crews are still busy converting some classrooms and constructing an addition to the existing building to house office and conference room space, but many of the rooms were ready for class.
A mix of adult students and dual enrollment high schoolers attended class on the first day.
TCAT Elizabethton Vice President of Finance, Facilities and Instruction Crystal Fink said opening the extension has been a long-awaited day.
“TCAT is all about careers, so to have them embark on this journey to complete a certificate, it’s very exciting,” Fink said.
Inside the school, the curriculum is much different from the building’s elementary school days.
Site Coordinator Casey Robbins said each classroom and lab is equipped with the technology necessary to earn a certificate in one of the four trades offered at the extension.
“We were able to purchase state-of-the-art equipment to get these programs up and running so that our students have the best equipment out on the market to learn on,” Robbins said.
Robbins said the equipment is sourced based on recommendations from TCAT Elizabethton’s advisory committee, made up of local employers.
“We take their recommendation and make sure that we keep all of our equipment up to speed with the industry,” Robbins said.
The extension offers Building Construction, Industrial Electricity and Cosmetology courses right now.
Fink said the extension will introduce Nursing courses in October.
Classes run the same curriculum as other TCAT Elizabethton campuses. Fink said the decision to put a school in Boones Creek was out of convenience for students.
“We serve five counties, so all of the counties have an opportunity here,” Fink said. “But we are focusing on Washington County, Johnson City. It’s right off the interstate. It’s a great location, so transportation will not be a hindrance for our students.”
She said it also provides new opportunities to students in Washington County, Tennessee and Johnson City Schools.
“We know, looking at data in our region, our students will get a job,” Fink said. “These students will find employment opportunities very quickly, sometimes even before they graduate.”
Crews are also finishing a Building Construction workshop.
Robbins said she expects about 300 students on campus once all the programs are up and running.
Before construction is finished on the current building, TCAT Elizabethton is already looking ahead to the future.
A second building, housing Diesel Agriculture and Equipment Operator classes is set to start construction in the Winter.
“It’s one small step for us, but it’s going to be a huge step for our region as a whole,” Fink said.
Fink said construction is expected to take at least a year.
Robbins said there is potential for a third building if the funding is available.