by Shamira McCray
Lake City philanthropist and entrepreneur Darla Moore said The Continuum is “a vision for what the future of education could, and probably should, look like.”
The new educational initiative in Lake City is a partnership between the Darla Moore Foundation, Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College.
“There are many issues facing South Carolina today,” Moore said in a news release. “None is more pressing than creating an educational system that more effectively meets the needs of the businesses and industries of this state, and the citizens who make them go.”
Moore said major employers such as Volvo and Boeing have informed her that they need a better-trained and educated workforce to sustain their growth in South Carolina.
“That’s a vital need we must meet,” Moore said. “I believe The Continuum will fast become a model for how that can be done.”
The Continuum will be housed in a new $25 million, 46,000-square-foot facility in downtown Lake City and will be a regional center for education and workforce development. There will be a focus at The Continuum on “advancing the knowledge and mastery of innovative and technical skills,” according to the release sent Thursday.
Courses that lead to two- and four-year degrees will be offered at The Continuum, plus a business incubator, dual enrollment courses for high school students, workforce development certificate programs and other science and innovation programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Students from Pee Dee-area public school districts and private schools are expected to enroll for classes that will begin in August. Courses for both dual enrollment and traditional students will include English, math, history, biology, chemistry, art, music, business, computer science, education, pre-engineering and pre-nursing, the release said. Initial workforce development courses will include training in HVAC, welding, health sciences, mechatronic and advanced manufacturing technology.
According to the release, The Continuum will include seven high-tech classrooms, three computer labs, three distance learning (online) classrooms, large prep rooms for biology and chemistry labs, four workforce development classrooms/labs, a health science space and a large lecture hall that can be converted into an event space.
“The business incubator will have a separate public entrance and space for up to five nascent businesses,” the release said. “The incubator will be run by FMU through its Kelly Center for Enterprise and Innovation, which operates the business development center for the city of Florence in downtown Florence.”
Francis Marion University President Fred Carter said what Moore has brought together is extraordinary in its breadth and vision.
“There is no single path to becoming an educated person or to engaging in a meaningful vocation,” Carter said through the release. “Through its unique structure and flexibility, The Continuum opens new doors for students across the spectrum. FMU is eager to begin this bold, new adventure.”
Florence-Darlington Technical College Interim President Ed Bethea said The Continuum will be huge for Lake City and the surrounding area.
“Lower Florence County will have easy access to educational opportunities that have never before been available in that part of Florence County,” Bethea said.
Former J. Paul Truluck Creative Arts and Science Magnet School Principal Jeanette Altman will be the director of The Continuum. Anna Todd, who most recently served as assistant director of admissions at Francis Marion University. will direct the university’s services at The Continuum while managing other outreach programs. Briana Dennis, the Kelly Center director at Francis Marion, will manage the business incubator.
The Continuum will announce other personnel later.
A four-member board will govern The Continuum, the release said. The board includes Moore, who will serve as the chairwoman, Darla More Foundation CEO and President Dr. Marion Fowler, Bethea and Carter.
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