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Career readiness is more than just a slogan in local schools

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 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Career Readiness Center was created for the 2011-2012 school year and hosted 30 freshman and 30 sophomores with a strong interest in a skilled trade.

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District officials and the Bullitt County Board of Education wanted an emphasis on college and career readiness for students reflecting Kentucky’s initiative. 

CRC allowed students to access their high school curriculum through Compass Learning Odyssey and APEX at the Riverview Opportunity Center. They spent part of each day at the Bullitt County Area Technology Center engaged in skilled trade learning.

Current ATC offerings include automotive technology, carpentry, welding, health science and graphic communications. Instead of a student waiting at their home school to access the learning they really want, and perhaps getting behind in credits to such a degree that they might never get to attend the ATC as a junior or senior, these students will begin to learn these job skills at the beginning of their high school career.

Students in this program will also be required to learn entrepreneurial skills as well, such as accessing capital, developing a business plan, payroll taxes and advertising,” according to Director of Secondary Education Dave Marshall. “CRC and ATC will also work toward cooperative education experiences or internships in their chosen fields. A student should be able to walk out of this program with the skills necessary to enter into a well-paying career or start their own small business.”

Students who completed their first year at the Career Readiness Center complimented on aspects of the program from the setting to the smaller class size.

“It’s really the normal high school program just without the number of students and the drama,” said 17-year-old Connor Wooley.

Nathan Owen, 17, remarked the paperwork was substantially less than his previous high school.

“I don’t have to carry around a bunch of books,” he said.

Both like accessing the high school curriculum through Compass Learning Odyssey and APEX at ROC (Riverview Opportunity Center) part of the day and walking to the Bullitt County Area Technology Center which shares the same campus.

At the ATC, Connor heads to automotive technology while Nathan concentrates on graphic design.

Again, the smaller class size allows for better focus from students and more one on one time with teachers.

“At my old high school, it was harder to keep up with everything,” Connor said. “I admit I’m not the most organized person. Here, it is easier to be organized and there is not near as much paperwork.”

CRC students spend part of each day at the ATC engaged in skilled trade learning. Current ATC offerings include automotive technology, carpentry, welding, health science and graphic communications.

Instead of a student waiting at their home school to access the learning they really want, and perhaps getting behind in credits to such a degree that they might never get to attend the ATC as an 11th or 12th grader, these students begin to learn these job skills at the beginning of their high school career.

“CRC had a great first year even though a few kinks had to be straightened out like any other first year programs; we were learning as the students were learning about CRC,” said Career Coach Savannah Mattingly. “I, personally, took the position and ran with it to expose our students to the community and district. CRC is such a great ideal program for students needing guidance in choosing their college or career path or students wanting to learn individually and at their own pace, as well as hands-on experiential learning with the ATC.”

Savannah added that field trips have been very successful.

“I coordinated and scheduled field trips that complemented the technical programs at the ATC,” she explained. “I asked for specific tours and sights at the field trip locations and a majority of companies allowed our students a behind-the-scenes look. It is very important to students that they receive and are exposed to the ins-and-outs and what their potential place of employment will look and feel like. Many companies were so pleased with the CRC and ATC programs that they told students to apply for an employment position their senior year before graduation.”

Tiffany Bowen, 14, and Alex Bowling, 16, are both pursuing nursing and said the CRC is preparing them for the future.

“The best part about the career readiness center is you get to work at your own pace,” Tiffany said. “There is no rush. You get to take your time and do the work right. I am more focused on my program of study.”

She desires to work as a hospital registered nurse whereas Alex is more interested in a nursing home setting.

“It is so much easier to concentrate here,” Alex said. “I was able to get my work done faster.”

All four students praised CRC Teacher Melissa Fox and Mattingly.

“Ms. Fox is funny,” Tiffany said. “She has a really good personality and attitude toward students. She just helped me finish a test.”

“They know who you are and want to help,” added Alex. “I needed another CNA test and that was going to cost $75 but Ms. Mattingly was able to locate one at no charge. They go out of their way to help you.”

Connor is a hands-on learner and likes automotive technology.

“That’s my interest and thanks to CRC, I have learned quite a lot about automotive technology,” he said. “I’ve taken in several cars at home, fixed them and made money.”

Nathan enjoys working out graphic designs on a computer.

The beauty of CRC is the variety. There is computer work, hands-on experience and, a third component, field trips.

“Those are really helpful for me,” said Alex. “When we went to Jewish Hospital Medical Center South, seeing the equipment helped put what I want to do in perspective.”

Students in the program are also required to learn entrepreneurial skills as well, such as accessing capital, developing a business plan, payroll taxes and advertising. CRC and ATC work toward cooperative education experiences or internships in their chosen fields. A student should be able to walk out of this program with the skills necessary to enter into a well-paying career or start their own small business.

CRC Counselor Rick Dawson has fielded several telephone calls from parents interested in seeing if the program is the right fit for their child.

“We started this first year with 60 students and will add to that number next school year,” he said. “I just took a call from a mom who wanted an application. I scanned one and sent it to her.”

Dawson said a few students during the first year found the program was not for them and decided to return to their home schools.

Connor and Nathan can see that but also know they can still see many of their friends after class.

“We have made new friends through CRC,” Connor said.

Dawson feels the best way for prospective students to experience CRC is by visiting.

“They need to feel it, touch it, experience it,” he affirmed. “That’s really the best way for them to get a full picture of this program.”

Bullitt County Public Schools has nearly 13,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 850 and a classified staff of over 850 working every school day to make the district the leader in educational excellence.