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UCHS, TCAT Hold Ribbon-Cutting for New Partnership

Unicoi County High School and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Elizabethton ushered in a new era of learning on Tuesday, Feb. 20, hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly-established TCAT Elizabethton Instructional Service Center at UCHS.

This new program will allow for individuals seeking a career in technical jobs to obtain certification using the facilities at UCHS. The first two programs being launched are cosmetology and welding, and classes will be taught in the evenings.

At the helm of the new cosmetology program will be UCHS cosmetology teacher Julie Garland, who has served as the cosmetology teacher at the high school for the past 17 years.


The UCHS-TCAT partnership has been in the works for at least seven years according to Director of Schools John English, who described the event as “thrilling” in opening remarks at Tuesday’s ceremony.

UCHS Principal Dr. Amy Horton described the new endeavor as “very exciting,” and went on to express that the program will provide opportunities for not only students at UCHS, but also members of the Unicoi County Community. 

TCAT Elizabethton President David Hicks expressed in his opening remarks that TCAT Elizabethton is “committed to growing this program.” Later, when asked about the partnership Hicks said that an idea for the future would be to have a standalone location in Unicoi County. 

Hicks thanked Horton and English for their leadership shortly before UCHS students Finlee Bowen and Charles Hill spoke about the positive impact of the local partnership with TCAT and the effects of advancing their careers.

The Ayers Foundation and Tennessee Board of Regents were also integral to the partnership, with the Ayers Foundation organizing the ribbon-cutting ceremony and helping provide resources to students after graduation to achieve certification in a field of their choosing.

Ayers Foundation East Tennessee Regional Director Jodi Lane Gilbert said the Ayers Foundation supported this mission because it aimed to knock down barriers to students' post-graduation success. “They sky’s the limit,” she said of the landmark partnership.

Dr. Burton Williams, CEO of The Ayers Foundation Trust said the partnership was important because the wait list for programs at TCAT often stretched to two years. Williams also pointed out that many people do not end up following through on their education due to working and not being able to return to school in the interim.

Moving forward, UCHS and TCAT are excited to grow the partnership into additional programs, such as one for LPN certification, as well as other technical training programs which will allow Unicoi County community members to launch careers in various fields.


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