BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)—It’s a free college education for dozens of Baltimore County school workers. For some it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in a sluggish economy.

As Gigi Barnett explains, one of the first graduating classes is celebrating Friday night.

The day starts early for Kai Price.  She runs four Baltimore County school cafeterias.

“I wake up at 4 every morning,” Price said. “I’m here by 6, 6:30 every morning.”

Two years ago, Price decided to go to college on the school district’s dime. She worked two jobs and went to school part-time. But last week, she and 55 other school workers received their business certificates through a partnership program with the Community College of Baltimore County.

And the 30-hour course work was free.

“It’s made me independent, and I know whatever I put my mind to, I can do it,” Price said.

“We do this for our teachers all of the time,” said Baltimore County School Superintendent Dr. Joe Hairston.

He says it made sense to offer a free college program to other school workers, too.

Now there’s a waiting list to enroll, in part because of the sluggish economy.

“So many people in all walks of life across this country are going back to training and developing jobs. The market is becoming more competitive,” Hairston said.

The program pays for virtually everything. Without that kind of financial assistance, Price said she would’ve never started and wouldn’t have her certificate.

“And, now I’m at the crossroads of ‘Can I do it?’ I’ve paid for my classes, and now I need to move on,” Price said.

The program now offers its graduates the chance to earn an associate’s degree, but that will have a cost. The program also offers a track to earn a four-year degree at a Maryland university.

Comments (2)
  1. Aminudin says:

    This is America’s plerbom and would be better served with an American icon, although I totally love Jamie Oliver and I agree 100% with his food viewpoint. But, look at our food network channel. Overweight cooks making big big food and always looking like they are salivating over their last meal is what makes general entertainment here. When Julia Child taught cooking, she taught REAL cooking and it was meant to be eaten with a certain amount of restraint and appreciation. You cannot appreciate good food if your stomach doesn’t have a chance to get empty. The tons of sugary, fatty desserts we see on FCN ruin the appetite and palate. Our plerbom in America is way way bigger than school lunches. School lunch is just a mere reflection of our food culture in general, and that’s where the revolution needs to happen. It never made sense to me to start in the schools and force school cooks to accept the change when they don’t believe in it and the parents of the children don’t either. Michelle Obama is making it her business to target childhood obesity. She will probably fail, because child obesity is a mere result of an obese culture and this culture is affected by money and greed from the food industry and the government obliging the lobbyists. Children are 99% influenced by their parents, not by Jamie Oliver type chefs, or school cafeterias. Also, people with overeating issues do not like someone else controlling their children. Teach the parent and watch it trickle down. The appetite for green beans begin in toddler hood, not school age.I am a giant proponent of real, whole, healthy food and exercise and I live this way and I feed two twin boys this way. But, they would not learn this value system from a school or the government. The food revolution begins in the home with revisiting the joy of sitting at a real table and the reintroduction of the joy of the process of cooking, not the end result. Until our culture sees the value of shelling fresh beans together, as part of the fun of eating, there is little hope. But, our culture values spending its time outside the kitchen.

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