School-to-career program provides new opportunities for Butler County teachers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 7, 2001

If you happened to have been out and about in Greenville or Georgiana recently, you may have noticed some familiar faces in some unfamiliar surroundings. Those familiar faces belonged to area teachers who had left the &uot;safe&uot; (and comfortable) environment of their classrooms to venture into the &uot;real&uot; (and sometimes not so comfortable) world of business and industry.

County teachers, businesses, and industries took part in a program

called School-to-Career which is designed to help students be better prepared for the next step after high school, whether that be college or work.

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This program is an educational partnership with the business community and allows students the opportunity to work while still attending school, to gain valuable work experience in a community business. But during the summer it becomes the teachers’ turn to go out into that work-a-day world and to be afforded an opportunity to&uot;wear another hat.&uot; During the weeks of June 11 through June 29, 28 county teachers and counselors spent one week of their summer vacation working in businesses throughout the county to gain some knowledge about and experience in the day-to-day operation of that particular workplace as it relates to the knowledge and skills being taught through the school curriculum. It also gives the educators insight into the higher education requirements of the various careers involved in that business or industry. According to John Salter, the School-to-Career coordinator for Georgiana and McKenzie High Schools, &uot;School-to-Career is not a stand-alone program, but rather a process that brings educators, business and industry, and community leaders together for a common goal–an educated workforce. Teacher internships allow teachers to learn what local businesses expect from our graduates and then to incorporate their experiences into the existing curriculum. &uot;

Susan Andrews used her communicating and writing skills as an English teacher at McKenzie High School to work as a reporter for The Greenville Advocate. Andrews said that she can see much value in the School-to-Career program. &uot;The students can see teachers in a different light. They can see us using our skills in another arena. I plan to use the articles that I wrote for The Advocate as part of my bulletin boards this fall. I hope they can see that writing can and does have practical applications, &uot; she said.

As a counselor at W.O. Parmer, Amy Boswell said that she too can see an educational benefit not just for herself but for the students also. &uot;I believe that programs such as this help stress to students the importance of working well with others. Skills which they are learning in the classroom such as being respectful of teachers as well as other students will be directly related to their ability to cooperate with co-workers , a boss, and with customers. &uot; Boswell said that this opportunity gave her fresh insight into how hard the ladies at the Pineapple have to work.

Abbie Jackson, who teaches math at Georgiana High School, did her internship at Fred’s in Greenville. &uot;This experience reinforced for me how important people-skills are in the workplace. I could see how well customers responded to friendliness and a smiling face. These are aspects that I can take back to the classroom.&uot; She also stated that she would be able to explain to the students when they asked, &uot;Why do I have to know this stuff?&uot; how their math skills would be utilized for calculating their wages and overtime pay.

Salter commented further, &uot;School-to-Career allows students to better understand why academics are important and how the information being taught in the classroom is used in the &uot;real world&uot;. We feel that this program helps produce individuals who not only &uot;know&uot;, but can &uot;do&uot; as well.&uot; Louise Foster is the School-to-Career coordinator at Greenville High School.

Those county teachers participating in the School-to-Career program include Susan Andrews and Cindy Lowe from McKenzie High School; Chris Caldwell, Dorothy Gandy, Abbie Jackson, Mark McClaney, Joea McNeil, and Leah Salter from Georgiana High School; Shayne Armstrong, Amy Boswell, Kim Owens, Tera Simmons, Judy Tindal, and Grata Whiddon from Greenville Middle School; Nancy Benson, Yvonne Gulley, Deedra McNaughton, Rebecca Smith, and Cynthia Taylor from R.L. Austin; Janice Box, Gayle Gafford, and Jo Shepard from Greenville Elementary School; Geneva Fails, Guy Gafford, Deborah Lawrence, Pat McNaughton, and Flora Watson from Greenville High School.

Those businesses which employed the teachers were The Greenville Advocate, Ted Tindal Farms, Marilyn’s Hair Designs, Elizabeth Wilson Florist, The Pineapple, Camelia City Florist, Alabama Electric Cooperative, Learning Bee Child Care, Bates House of Turkey, Greenville Motor Company, Georgiana Nursing Facility, Alabama Power Company, International Paper, Pioneer Electric Cooperative, Greenville Shoe Shop, Butler County Juvenile Court, Georgiana Bill’s Dollar Store, Grayson’s, General Store and Seafood, West Point Stevens, Shoney’s, Travel Bob, and Backporch Embroidery.