Leaders offer tech support

Published 2:00 am Saturday, April 13, 2013

The tides have shifted, and a world of technical jobs and positions are opening at a rate that is keeping educators on their toes.
Flomaton, T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal high school students are being exposed to opportunities to learn a technical skill beginning as early as tenth grade — a fact education superintendents in the community are happy to support.
Escambia County School Superintendent Randall Little and Brewton City School Superintendent Lynn Smith have vowed to continue — and increase — their support of the Escambia-Brewton Career Technical Center for students in the systems they serve.
Little said the career center has been a large part of programs offered in the county system for decades.
“Our county has always had a strong offering in career tech areas,” Little said. “We are fortunate in our county to have a strong, viable career tech program.”
Smith said ongoing programs at the school are the first steps in putting students on a path that can lead them to success in a technical setting.
“With the things happening in Mobile with Airbus, Thyssenkrupp, we have to be able to look at what we can offer to our students to prepare them for those kinds of jobs,” Smith said. “There could even be some second-tier jobs coming this way. Maybe not right in our county, but certainly within driving distance. We’re looking at what we can do to help our students in that direction if they want to stay close to home to work.”
Even as far up as the Alabama Department of Education, Dr. Tommy Bice is looking to focus education in a direction more conducive to workforce development.
“That just great news for all of us,” Little said. “With Dr. Bice’s 20/20 plan of College and Career Ready Standards, a major component of that is career tech and workforce development. By focusing more on workforce development, this will help us be on a more even-tier with college prep.”
With programs already in place, students will soon be able to expand the possibilities of their technical career prep — thanks to the foresight of administrators around the region.
“We’re looking at adding a new program next year that deals with public safety,” Little said. “A lot of our students go into law enforcement and firefighting including volunteer fire departments. We’re involved more with the sheriff’s department, police departments and fire departments and the Alabama Fire College will also be involved in what is planned for next year. If a student successfully completes the program — particularly in the fire fighting — they could, upon graduation, go straight to work in that field.”
Smith said the tests administered to students in the eighth and tenth grades at the Brewton Middle and T.R. Miller High schools has helped to guide students in the direction they want to go.
“The Explorer Test gives us a plan and lets us know if the students are on the right track for their college and career interests,” Smith said. “It also helps them get focused them get focused on things they are interested in and some additional skills to help them make good career choices.”

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