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Schneider: Education Governor

(Host) Recently Governor Peter Shumlin broke with tradition and dedicated his second inaugural address to the single topic of education in Vermont. Norwich University president Richard Schneider was delighted to hear thegovernor focus on the importance and relevance of higher education.

(Schneider) As private institutions, the 19 colleges and universities that make up the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges (known as AVIC) are well-practiced at discerning and meeting the demands of the marketplace. In Vermont we're lucky to boast the highest high school graduation rates in the country at 91 percent. Many of those students right now are awaiting acceptance letters from colleges.

As students wade through the choices they have, I'd like for them to consider this: Between the state college system, the University of Vermont and the AVIC schools, our tiny state has everything it needs to gain a top rate education and grow a prosperous economy. It's important that we prepare our high school students to both attend college and be successful there.

The governor is proposing initiatives at the state schools and he's on the right track. AVIC is also working to get Vermont teenagers ready for their college experience.

This fall, Rutland High School students completed an innovative Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (or STEM) initiative program that engaged students in field trips and processing collected data with the latest technology and newly acquired critical thinking skills.

Three teachers involved with the project received special training for STEM education in a summer program at Norwich University. The hope is that this type of program will help get high school students interested in science, technology,engineering and mathematics and develop skills that will help them succeed in college.

Once students are interested and ready to attend college, we need to make it affordable for them. AVIC colleges are also working to achieve this goal. Vermont's private colleges give students $145.8 million from their own resources to help reduce the cost, with a majority on campus receiving aid.

The AVIC colleges offer awide range of studies, and teaching skills that will meet the demands of today and tomorrow's employers. Students can become environmental experts at Sterling College and Green Mountain College and wor kat one of the many green businesses in the state. They can study engineering at Norwich University to meet Vermont's infrastructure and technical needs. Students can be trained to build their own businesses at Champlain College and Southern Vermont College,or gain the skills necessary to work in the growing hospitality industry by attending the New England Culinary institute. At Goddard College and Marlboro College students can design individualized study plans in a variety of fields depending on their interest and the needs of the state.

This is just a small sampling of the many opportunities offered to students by the AVIC colleges. Together, Vermont's private and public colleges and universities must create more opportunities for our youth.

We need to work towards keeping our high school students in the state for their post-secondary education and subsequent careers. That's how we will achieve the governor's goal of growing Vermont's prosperity.

John is the creator of the public television series "In the Life" and the Emmy Award-winning producer of the documentary "Before Stonewall."
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