School system becoming true bright spot in community

Published 1:41 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Butler County should be proud.

On Friday, Alabama State Department of Education Superintendent Tommy Bice, along with some of his staff members, toured the Butler County School System’s Career Academy.

To say they were impressed is to put it mildly.

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Bice, who described the Career Academy as “a real gem,” had the look of a kid left alone in a candy store as he observed the different classes, stopping to chat with students and snap photos.

“This is how school should be done,” he told Butler County School System officials following the tour.

We’ve often said that sometimes we, as residents of Butler County, don’t recognize the gems in our community — like the Ritz Theatre, Cambrian Ridge or Hank Williams Boyhood Home and Museum — because we are so accustomed to seeing them or hearing about them.

The Career Academy is one of those gems that many of us take for granted.

It wasn’t that long ago that, with the help of a $500,000 grant, an Industrial Maintenance Academy and Health Science Academy were created to help prepare students to be productive members of the state’s workforce.

Home economics classes were replaced with nursing classes. Shop class was replaced with welding classes.

That was innovative thinking, and that’s what Bice recognized.

The Industrial Maintenance Academy and the Health Science Academy help provide Butler County students with skills that they can carry into the workforce should they decide not to attend college.

That benefits not only students, but also our community as a whole as it makes our county more attractive to businesses looking for a home. It also benefits existing industries, such as L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital and Hwashin America, when they are looking to fill openings within their companies.

“It’s just stellar what you all have been able to put together,” Bice said. “There are a lot of great things going on here. It’s amazing.”

He’s right.

Our school system, under the leadership of Superintendent Amy Bryan and her staff, is fast becoming one of the true bright spots in our community.

We may not always recognize it since we are right here on top of it.

It’s often easier to spot the problems or areas that need improving. But it just takes a quick walk around the campuses here in Butler County to recognize that there is plenty of positives happening in our school system. From the Career Academy, to outstaning athletics programs, to the JROTC program, to AmeriCorps work with students, to a newly formed foundation to raise funds for the school system.

Dr. Bice is right. We’re sitting on a gem right here in Butler County.