(Posted May 21, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Brightway Institute, a new vocational college, is one step closer to opening on the former London City Schools campus on Walnut Street.
On May 19, Brightway representatives met with city of London officials to go over purchase and lease agreements. The city owns the school property. For $1, Bright-way is buying all but the academy building and bus garage. The organization will lease the Community Center back to the city for recreation programs on evenings and weekends. The deal is tentatively set to close on June 19.
“We’re very happy to be here,” said Bill Pizzino, a Brightway co-founder. Pizzino is a Madison County resident, civil engineer and former football coach.
Renovations will start right away on the 1911 building, which last served as a junior high. While renovations are going on, Brightway will start accepting a limited number of students this fall. The organization plans to start small, first offering short certification classes in construction, welding, math, English and resumé building.
“We want to start making an impact as soon as we can,” Pizzino said.
Brightway’s long-term goal is to serve as a three-pronged educational center. The core focus will be technical instruction. The institute also will offer athletics and life skills courses, such as conflict resolution, professional image and personal finances.
“We want to help students become well-rounded people who contribute to the community,” said Calvin Murray, a Bright-way co-founder and former Ohio State University and NFL football player.
Students will have the opportunity to earn associate’s degrees or industry certifications. The college also will help students prepare for transition to a four-year college.
“Our goal is to have 1,500 students in the next five years,” Pizzino said, adding that he receives calls daily from students interested in Brightway, as well as businesses eagerly awaiting the day the college starts turning out trained workers.
Once in full operation, the college could employ as many as 40 staff members in part-time, full-time and adjunct professor positions, Pizzino said. Course offerings will continually evolve as workforce needs change, said Daryle Griffin, a Brightway co-founder and older brother to two-time Heisman trophy winner, Archie Griffin.
Pat Closser, London city council president and London mayor-elect, says Brightway will provide a positive boost to the local economy. Students and staffers will patronize local businesses, and businesses will come to know London as a source for trained workers, he said.
“They’re going to know that we’re pumping kids out of here ready to work,” Closser said.
Steve Hume, London’s safety-service director, credits London resident Bill Blazer with helping to bring Brightway to London. Through his connections as a former Ohio Dominican University coach and administrator and former director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Blazer brought all of the parties together, Hume said. Blazer currently serves as a consultant to Brightway.
Hume added that he is excited to see the old school building put to use.
“This building was built to educate people, and it’s nice to see that will continue,” he said.
Brightway will hold a golf outing fundraiser on July 15 at the London Country Club. Anyone interested in participating or donating can contact Bill Pizzino at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds will help to offset renovation costs.