Ribbon cutting set for MC Pre-K Academy and Center for Teaching Excellence

Midland College and the community will celebrate the grand opening of the new Midland College Pre-K Academy and Center for Teaching Excellence at 6 p.m. Sept. 12,. The official building dedication ceremony will take place at the new building located on the MC main campus across from the Al G. Langford Chaparral Center.

In August 2019, Midland College and Midland Independent School District partnered to start the Midland College Pre-K in-district charter school with sixty-eight 3- and 4-year-old students. Despite the obstacles of COVID, the academy was a tremendous success, so much so that community leaders approached MC officials about expanding the capacity, a news release said.

The new two-story, 60,000-square-foot Midland College Pre-K Academy and Center for Teaching Excellence was made possible by lead gifts of $10 million each from Scharbauer Foundation, Inc. and the Permian Strategic Partnership. In addition Abell-Hanger Foundation, Henry Foundation, Midland College Foundation Inc., The Beal Foundation and Warren Charitable Foundation supported the project through gifts of $1 million or more each. Other generous contributions toward this $30-plus million building were given by many other private foundations, individuals, families and businesses in the community.

“The Midland College Pre-K Academy partnership between Midland College and Midland ISD allows us to merge our resources and build upon a pillar of our strategic plan to enhance the student experience by creating a unique learning environment that will set a new standard for early education in our region,” MISD Superintendent Stephanie Howard said in the release. “We are excited for the Academy to be able to offer five 3-year-old classes this year for a total of 85 seats and five 4-year-old classes for a total of 100 seats. This increase of 51 and 66 seats respectively from last year will allow us to serve even more of Midland’s youngest learners. Currently, we are only able to serve 5% of eligible 3-year-old students in Midland, and we look forward to the future when even more seats are made available.”

The first floor of the Midland College Pre-K Academy and Center for Teaching Excellence includes classrooms, cafeteria and other areas for preschool students, and the second floor contains classrooms and offices for the College’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education and Associate of Arts in Teaching programs. Building designer is Parkhill, and Adolfson & Peterson Construction handled all construction services.

“This project is another great example of a public/private collaboration focused on addressing a community need,” President and CEO of Scharbauer Foundation Inc. Grant Billingsley said in the release. “Scharbauer Foundation is proud to work with Midland College and our generous philanthropic partners to help students and families succeed.”

“We consider it a privilege to partner with other Permian Basin organizations to help find a solution to the shortage of high-quality early childhood education and the shortage of teachers,” MC President Damon Kennedy said.

In addition to receiving hands-on learning experiences in the pre-kindergarten classrooms, Midland College students who complete the baccalaureate-level program in Early Childhood Education and obtain the Texas Teacher Certification EC-3 will fill a critical gap in Midland ISD’s and the surrounding area’s teaching pipelines.

“This initiative creates a model for combined teacher preparation and early childhood education, two areas of great need in our region and priorities for the PSP,” Tracee Bentley, president and CEO of Permian Strategic Partnership, said. “This is a first of its kind program at a community college, and we have the opportunity to set the standard for others in our region and beyond. The Permian Strategic Partnership is honored to partner with Midland College and all the funding partners who have helped to make this vision a reality.”

“Two important aspects of our mission as a community college are to improve quality of life in our community and prepare individuals for satisfying careers that meet the region’s workforce needs,” Kennedy noted. “This partnership will help Midland College fulfill that mission.”