To say the last few days have been big ones for education in this community would be a huge understatement. (Is “huge understatement” an oxymoron? Never mind … we’ll leave it to the English teachers weigh in on that one.)
The biggest event, of course, was the official completion and dedication of the $36 million Rainey-McCullers School of the Arts, funded by a sales tax in whose benefits voters put their faith three times over a dozen years.
Muscogee County Schools Superintendent David Lewis called the new center at 1700 Midtown Drive “a testament to the community’s commitment to progress, the arts, public education and the legacy that is the children of Muscogee County for now and well into the future.”
We were pleased to note, at the time the decision was made, that the school would be named in honor and/or memory of people famous for or important to the arts (a ledger-enquirer.com poll of almost 500 respondents showed broad consensus in that regard), and the choice could hardly have been better. Named for internationally renowned blues singer Gertrude “Ma” Rainey and author-dramatist Carson McCullers, both Columbus natives and acknowledged immortals in the broad realm of the arts, the school will, in the words of principal Briant Williams, “touch on every aspect of the arts, but we also link that connection to mathematics, science, social studies, creative writing and English and the study of world languages.”
It’s an arts center ... but it is also a school. After all, education and what we call “culture” are, or should be, inseparable.
Meanwhile — on the other side of town, the other side of the brain and another level of education — Columbus State University has its own good news to celebrate. As reported by Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Scott Berson, a $174,000 grant from the National Security Agency will fund CSU in developing Internet-based technology for cybersecurity training and curriculum development. Part of that technology, the university reports, involves visual mapping for military use.
In a news release, CSU computer science professor Shuangbao Wang said the grant “makes CSU one of the top universities in the nation in providing technologies for cybersecurity workforce development to universities, government and private sector across the nation … We are building a tool that people across the nation can use to develop cybersecurity training, which guarantees compliance with government and industry standards for cybersecurity workforce development.”
We don’t really understand what some of that (OK, most of that) means, but obviously the NSA is confident that folks at the university’s TSYS School of Computer Science do. It’s confidence Uncle Sam has shown in CSU before, as evidenced by previous NSA grants for cybersecurity research and training.
This is a pay-it-forward kind of investment: The technology CSU will be developing will be used to train countless others for a growing cybersecurity work force. That’s some big-time R&D stature for Columbus State.