Butler County Career Academy celebrates third year
The Butler County Career Academy started in October of 2013. Then, it served almost 600 students and only had 16 courses to offer, with no pathways available for students.
Three years later, the program serves more than 1,500 Butler County students, provides 46 programs, and has nine of the 16 pathways offered by the state of Alabama. The program growth is something Career Tech Director Jennifer Burt never dreamed of when she started the Academy.
“We can go not only to college from where we are, but straight into the workforce, or a combination of both if that’s what they choose to do,” Burt said. “I thought that it would be something that we would be able to train the students to go to work, if they wanted to. To get a high paying, high wage, high demand job. And it’s just grown into this. I never could’ve imagined that.”
Of the 46 courses, students can learn anything from technical skills like welding and electric work, to sciences like nursing. Two new courses added in 2016 include a sports/physical therapy course, where students are trained by a licensed physical therapist in the community, and a culinary program that comes with college accreditation.
Students in the Academy say they are able to “test drive” their future careers, and that participating in the Academy’s courses have been an invaluable eperience.
“I actually saw an increase in my attendance at school,” said senior Grace McCann. McCann is enrolled in the Jobs for Alabama Graduates Program, or JAG. “I became a lot more involved in my classes, and I’ve also had higher grades and been more… Participation oriented in class. I’ve stepped out of my shell, I’ve put myself out there, and it’s lead to really big things for me.”
“To me, it means the world. That I am learning faster than other students, that I have the ability and the option to take my own life in my own hands. And take it where I want,” added senior Jacob Vickery. Vickery came up with the idea for the culinary program and helped get the course started in the school. He plans on pursuing a culinary degree after graduation.
Students in the program can also earn up to two semesters of college credit through some of the classes. The more technical courses offer different certifications that could cost students hundreds of dollars if they were to take them anywhere else.
The Career Academy also offers courses for adults. Those in the community who wish to further their education can take a select number of courses after school. Some employers in the area also pay workers to attend the courses for extra training.
To check out these programs or offer to help the Career Academy in any way, click herefor the website and call Burt’s number at the bottom of the page.