New opportunities for service members

By Mike Strand

A new program lets service members earn college credit through Salina Area Technical College while training at the National Guard’s Regional Training Site-Maintenance.

Service members in Kansas now have a new opportunity to earn college credits.

Salina Area Technical College (SATC) and the Kansas National Guard have partnered on the new Synchronous Training and Academic Credit Program. The program provides opportunities for soldiers to earn college credit toward an associate of applied science degree in technical studies while attending training at the National Guard’s Regional Training Site-Maintenance. The Adjutant General MG Lee Tafanelli and SATC President Greg Nichols signed the official document at a ceremony Sept. 15.

The ultimate goal of this partnership, a model which may well be the first of its kind, is to provide promotion potential and cohesive academic credits to a purposeful and industry-relevant degree.

“My involvement in the Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit (MCMC) at the state and national levels have provided me the opportunity to work with bridge creation,” said Stephani Johns-Hines, vice president of instruction for SATC, who has been working closely on this Synchronous Training initiative. “MCMC has provided me the opportunity for a great deal of networking and communication with contacts in other states. Those contacts and conversations kept me continually thinking about how academic credit might be offered more quickly here in Kansas.”

This conversation began when the Kansas Regional Training Institute (KSRTI) was invited to participate in Veteran’s Day last year by conducting a flag raising ceremony. Afterward, the trainees, their trainers and their leadership joined SATC students, faculty and Salina community members at the SATC Veteran’s Day luncheon. It was during that luncheon that a discussion began with the KSRTI leadership about the training programs they offered and Johns-Hines realized how closely the programs aligned.

An invitation was extended to the leadership to tour the SATC campus and programs. Johns-Hines explained her vision for concurrent training and academic credit. KSRTI leadership were very enthusiastic and plans were made for a meeting between their trainers and SATC faculty and a tour of their facility. It was at that point that things began to pick up speed.

The two teams realized that, despite the differences in terminology, the curriculum for the two programs were similar in ways that could be aligned for credit. Once SATC faculty identified the specific areas that course criteria was being met for credit within the KSRTI training curriculum, Johns-Hines mapped out the remaining elements of credit for prior learning and courses needed for an A.A.S of Technical Studies. The leadership at KSRTI then began the process of getting approval from the Kansas National Guard for a partnership.

After several months of correspondence, double-checking and anticipation, the team was finally able to see their work come to fruition. Conversations have already begun about another concurrent initiative, as well as discussions as how this can be done with training in other locations. Johns-Hines feels confident that it is possible to develop models for programs that can be used as a guide for other institutions, instead of having every institution recreate the wheel.

Mike Strand

is the advertising and marketing specialist at Salina Area Technical College in Kansas.