Ca­reer academy read­ies for stu­dents

The Covington News - - News - JOSH BRIGGS Ed­i­tor

New­ton County’s school sys­tem may have found its crowned jewel. In fact, when stu­dents and teach­ers re­turn from spring break in two weeks, one of the top sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties the state will be open for busi­ness right here in Cov­ing­ton.

Mem­bers of the me­dia took an ex­clu­sive tour of the New­ton Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy Thurs­day and saw first­hand what has been in the works for more than four years. The school, lo­cated ad­ja­cent to New­ton High, will open April 9 and house all stu­dents cur­rently en­rolled in the Ca­reer Tech­ni­cal and Agri­cul­ture Ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram (CTAE) for the re­main­der of the year.

Led by CTAE di­rec­tor James Woodard, who will be the ca­reer academy’s prin­ci­pal and CEO, the tour show­cased what stu­dents in the CTAE pro­gram can ex­pect in the new fa­cil­ity. The 185,000 square-foot build­ing is bro­ken into five main themed ar­eas on three lev­els with classes laid out ac­cord­ingly. Pro­grams in­clude culi­nary arts, man­u­fac­tur­ing, early child­hood de­vel­op­ment, au­to­mo­tive, agri­cul­ture, graphic de­sign, com­puter sci­ence and re­pair and busi­ness with each class­room setup to ac­com­mo­date the var­i­ous types of course work.

“Ev­ery­body was re­ally fo­cused on mak­ing it as right as pos­si­ble,” Woodard said. “I’ve been in­volved with ca­reer tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion for 23 years and I’ve seen a lot of ca­reer cen­ters and ca­reer pro­grams and I can tell you I don’t know of any fa­cil­ity as nice as what we have built here.”

The ca­reer academy is de­signed to pro­vide stu­dents a path­way to en­ter­ing the work­force upon grad­u­a­tion. Woodard, who has been in­stru­men­tal in the lay­out and de­sign of the fa­cil­ity, has been in­volved with ca­reer-based learn­ing at the state level and made sure the fa­cil­ity pro­vided stu­dents a re­al­world ex­pe­ri­ence.

The cur­ricu­lum, while need­ing to ad­here to the Ge­or­gia high school grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments, will be tai­lored much like a col­lege ma­jor or field of study. Some of the pro­grams go so far as to of­fer­ing ser­vices to the public, much like col­lege pro­grams do. In fact, part of the CTAE pro­gram is work­ing with lo­cal col­leges in dual en­roll­ment. For in­stance, three cour­ses are cur­rently dual en­roll­ment with six slated for next year. In some cases, those cour­ses will be taught by pro­fes­sion­als from the af­fil­i­ated col­leges. In all, the ca­reer academy looks and feels much like a col­lege cam­pus. Some of the pro­grams will even award stu­dents pro­fes­sional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion they can take di­rectly into the work­place.

“We’re cre­at­ing a pro­gram of study to give stu­dents com­ing out of the eighth grade to say, if you’re in­ter­ested in cos­me­tol­ogy for in­stance, these are the classes you need to take at your base school,” Woodard said. “As tenth graders, we give them what they need to take so they can en­roll in dual en­roll­ment in the eleventh grade so they can fin­ish up in the twelfth grade and com­ing out of school with X amount of hours to­ward a cos­me­tol­ogy de­gree.”

The CTAE pro­gram aims to teach stu­dents all the nu­ances of cer­tain pro­fes­sions. For in­stance, the cos­me­tol­ogy pro­gram has a full-ser­vice sa­lon com­plete with beauty sta­tions for hair and man­i­cures. The cos­me­tol­ogy class­room even has a re­cep­tion area which will be manned by a stu­dent and will take in cus­tomers — all in an at­tempt to give stu­dents hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence in run­ning a sa­lon.

Part of the di­ver­sity pro­grams in­cludes learn­ing the busi­ness side of the trade. In the case of the cos­me­tol­ogy depart­ment, stu­dents will take busi­ness classes as part of the pro­gram in or­der to be versed in han­dling cus­tomers at a front desk.

“Ac­count­ing (for in­stance) is some­thing that’s im­por­tant to all pro­grams. So as we build the pro­grams of study — cos­me­tol­ogy for ex­am­ple — we want to make ac­count­ing part of the re­quire­ment, and mar­ket­ing too (for that mat­ter). Some of these pro­grams may not be at­trac­tive to kids but you have to give them all the ed­u­ca­tion that’s re­quired. It’s great if you can do hair but you have to han­dle the other sides of the busi­ness too.”

Josh Briggs/the Cov­ing­ton News

CTAE di­rec­tor and ca­reer academy prin­ci­pal James Woodard shows off a com­puter lab at the new school.

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