Learning from Experience and Experiences
Just as the past year was unlike any other, the education at TCAT (Tennessee College of Applied Technology Livingston) Livingston is unlike any other school. This is a testament to the excellence and agility of the Livingston, Tennessee institution. Rather than being bound to classrooms for six hours, students learn through hands-on training in labs and shops that simulate real-world experiences. Classes are small, with an average of 25 students, which allows for more attention and learning opportunities. While smaller is superior for class sizes, bigger is better for program options. As a result, a long list of programs is offered, from mechanical to medical, automotive to administration, and building to beauty. The school also partners with industry leaders by training students in local businesses and promoting specialized training to employees to upgrade their skills.
“Our curriculum is designed around the current needs and jobs in the workforce,” says Ms. Myra West, President of TCAT Livingston. “The relevant, hands-on training we provide is one of the main reasons that students, employers, and employees choose TCAT Livingston.”
Changing Course to Meet Each Challenge
TCAT students are taught the importance of agility and resilience. These same lessons have enabled the institution to overcome any challenge, whether adapting to procedures or adjusting for a pandemic. Until 2020, one of the greatest challenges that TCAT Livingston had faced with accreditation is upgrading from paper to electronic processes—all during a COE reaccreditation cycle.
“It was a big challenge to our institution to essentially start from the beginning and convert our processes from paper documentation to electronic in order to prepare for our upcoming reaccreditation visit,” explains Ms. West.
The pandemic presented another challenge, yet the institution adapted by conducting smaller classes with social distancing and masks. This allowed all faculty, staff, and students to remain on campus for classes.
The Deeper Value of High Values
After 50 years, TCAT Livingston knows that COE accreditation is more than a certificate on the wall or a badge on a website. However, this is a lesson that everyone involved with the reaccreditation process needs to be reminded of from time to time. Once when Ms. West was conducting a self-study kickoff session for an upcoming reaccreditation visit, a new faculty member came to her and said he didn’t understand the need for the effort. She took advantage of that opportunity and detailed exactly why COE accreditation is so important to their institution and to its students.
“A good lesson for schools is to remember and reiterate to faculty what COE accreditation is all about and how it benefits students, the institution, and the business community,” explains Ms. West. “COE accreditation allows you to celebrate your successes while recognizing what needs improvement.”
Celebrating 50 Years of Accreditation: A Remarkable Achievement
TCAT Livingston was one of 21 institutions first accredited by the newly formed Council in 1971. Throughout the last 50 years, the institution conducted no less than eight self-studies and hosted many visits to ensure compliance with the standards of accreditation at intervals averaging every six years. Notably, throughout the last half-century, TCAT Livingston consistently maintained its ‘good standing’ status with the Council, having never been placed on any type of restrictive violation status which would call into question the quality and integrity of its administration, operations, or programs. This solid reputation and well-documented compliance with standards that ensure quality and integrity in career and technical education is truly a remarkable achievement.