One Room University Project Begins Two Year Demonstration This Fall
Marlinton, WV – The One Room University project, a program that will bring college level classes to Pocahontas County will begin a two year demonstration project this fall. Pocahontas County Coordinator Jay Miller has closely monitored and shepherded the project for a little over a year to get it to this point. He says the makeup of the students will probably be different from what they first anticipated.
“We started out thinking that our natural audience was graduating high school seniors” he says. “While they’re certainly a potential source of students, most of the seniors who are planning to go to college are planning to go to 4 year schools outside of the county.”
He says some seniors may elect to stay in the county and give the ORU a try. But he expects that the majority of the initial student body will be adults.
“One category would be adult students who may have attended school in the past and dropped out, never returned for whatever reason,” says Miller “and who now want to and need to take freshman/sophomore level classes. Another group would be students who may have dropped out of high school and have since acquired a GED, and need to go take college classes for professional or other vocational training.”
Miller says it could also benefit county students in New Rivers’ nursing program in allowing them to take their general education classes closer to home.
Four students are already registered with New River Community and Technical College, the institution that is providing the course content, as well as the Interactive Video Networking necessary to bring to the county. Miller says they are hoping to have at six to ten students in the initial classes this fall.
“That’s one of the reasons why we want this to be a two year demonstration project” says Miller, “to give the time for it to work; not unlike opening a restaurant and waiting for customers to come. You have to build your clientele and you have to be ready for anything from the beginning, but knowing that the restaurant is not going to be full the first night, the first week, or even the first year.”
Classes offered through the ORU will cost the same as those offered on New River’s traditional campuses, $377.00 for a 3 credit hour class. Financial aid is available through the college. Miller says students will also get some additional equip thanks to the Pocahontas County Commission. For any student taking two or more classes, they’ll be eligible for a laptop computer.
“We are in the process right now of ordering the first 20 for the fall semester” he says. “Anyone taking six or more credits, for a $100.00 deposit will be able to get a laptop that can be used in a wi-fi environment. [It] has Microsoft Office on it, and a recent version of windows on it.”
Pocahontas County Commissioner Martin Saffer says he’s pleased to see the project get underway.
“The thing that always strikes me when I come upstairs is the reality of this” he says. “It’s gone past the idea phase, it’s been born. The Commission is not going to run the college, the Commission was to put people in place like Jay and Elaine [Site Coordinator Elaine Diller], to give it sufficient funding, to act as the political representative, and to go forward in any way we can to make it a success.”
Two developmental classes, English 99 and Math 99 will be offered in a traditional classroom setting at the ORU beginning June 27th. These are classes for those who may not be ready for the rigors of the regular college versions of these classes. Miller says they are looking for teachers and tutors for these classes as well.
For more information about these or other classes in the ORU this fall, please contact Elaine Diller at 304-799-4950.