Intro to College and Career Academy

Kim Learnard's picture

A year ago, Fayette business, political, and educational leaders met for what we thought would be a singular discussion of local employment issues. The conversation surprised many of us, as we quickly learned that hundreds of technical jobs are available right here in Fayette County.

CEOs and human resource directors from multiple companies in dozens of industries said they would like to expand their operations in Fayette County. All they lack is the needed trained and ready workforce.

Fayette leaders began to search for solutions. It wasn’t long before we turned our attention to the CEC in Newnan.

The Central Educational Center (CEC) is a college and career academy, a place that has been preparing high school students for success in college and careers since 2000.

A college and career academy is an arm of the public school system. It is a partnership that combines the efforts of the public school system, local colleges, and local businesses to create educational programs for high school students.

Fayette County mobilized to incorporate the Fayette College and Career Academy so that we could hire a consultant, advance our learning process, and prepare to apply for a sizeable state grant.

We have made tremendous progress. In the last year, more than 90 Fayette County educators and community leaders have toured multiple college and career academies across the state so we can better understand both the education programs, and the partnerships that make these programs relevant and cost effective.

The college and career academy model is implemented nationwide. Georgia now has 26 college and career academies, with three more opening soon.

But enough about the grownups! A college and career academy is all about the kids. High school students get a chance to explore careers and choose a path that matches their interests.

College and career academies offer academic courses as we know them in Fayette. They also offer courses in engineering, robotics, healthcare, construction, welding, dental assisting, teaching as a profession, engineering, manufacturing, web design, aviation, video broadcasting, landscape design, graphic arts, culinary arts, public safety, and much more.

Are you headed for a four-year university after high school? Many of the courses at a college and career academy are offered by a four-year university, which means that while you are still in high school, you could earn college credit – at no charge – that transfers seamlessly into the University System of Georgia.

Are you interested in learning a skill or a trade? Many of the courses at a college and career academy are offered by the local technical college, which means that you may graduate from high school with a technical college certificate (TCC). A TCC demonstrates you have mastered a skill and you are equipped to either go to college to advance in your field of study, or begin a career.

Not sure what you want to study? A college and career academy involves internships and job shadowing opportunities so you can participate in real careers in the Fayette community.

Learning to become an EMT, a paralegal, a welder, a cameraman or a nurse is very exciting. There just isn’t any reason to wait until you are 21 years old to find your passion.

Participation at a college and career academy is optional. Most college and career academy students participate for half the school day. All students return to their base high school in time for after-school extracurricular activities.

One phrase that you will never utter at a college and career academy is, “I don’t know why I have to learn this!” You will choose your area of interest and get busy with relevant, hands-on learning, both in the classroom and in the real world.

Want to hear more? Come to a college and career academy meeting Tuesday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m. in the Sam’s Auditorium at the LEC (the old Fayette County High School campus in Fayetteville).

We will have a brief discussion of the basics of a college and career academy. Even better, we will hear testimonials by CEC students and graduates who are currently earning college credit and pursuing careers in a variety of professions.

This meeting is intended for middle school and high school students. It’s a great chance to listen, learn, and ask questions. You can even bring your parents. Check us out at http://fayettecca.wordpress.com.

[Kim Learnard, BSEE, M.Ed., is an electrical engineer who started her career installing factory automation systems for General Motors. After ten years with GM, she founded her own technical documentation company, earned a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from UGA, and today continues her career in workforce training. She was elected to Peachtree City Council Post 3 in 2009.]