Making practicality the perfect subject matter at Greenville High

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2006

Practicality makes perfect subject matter. That’s what Willie Smith, long-time Agri-Science instructor at Greenville High School has learned from his classes over the years.

Smith, who started his career teaching for two years in Talladega County, has spent 28 years instructing students as part of GHS’s Career Tech program.

&uot;If the students see it as something they can put to use, then they are interested,&uot; Smith said.

The veteran instructor teaches Agri-Construction, Agri-Metal Fabrication, Agri-Power Mechanics and Agri-Science at the school. The classes each run a year in length and do not require a prerequisite course, Smith said.

The biggest change Smith said he has seen in his years in education has been the explosion in the technology field. He doesn’t see that trend changing anytime soon.

&uot;(The Greenville area) is a place where technology is growing in importance with all the new industry in this area. And there is always a place where technology is useful to students.&uot;

While motivating students to want to learn and participate is a challenge for any teacher, Smith has found the secret to keeping them interested.

&uot;Motivation is the biggest challenge from day to day, but they enjoy anything that is hands-on. Welding is very popular, along with basic electricity and shop classes where they learn to build furniture.&uot;

With 80 percent of high school graduates not going on to a four-year college, Smith said a career tech program, such as the one in place in Butler County, is invaluable in preparing students for life in the real world.

And that’s the goal of the program, Joseph West, director for the county’s Career Tech program, said.

&uot;We want to prepare our kids for the workforce. We would like to see all the students go on to a two- or four-year college, but that’s not the reality,&uot; West said.

&uot;We want them to have what they need to find a good job after high school.&uot;

Among some of the most popular current offerings in the program are auto mechanics and building construction – &uot;both areas in which skilled people are in high demand and can make good money,&uot; West said.

Childcare Program at GHS has also proven &uot;very popular.&uot;

The Career Tech program, which has 1,000 county students involved in some facet or another, also has plans to grow, West said.

&uot;We are looking at adding some new programs. We’ve conducted surveys with students and are tallying up that information right now to find out what they are most interested in.&uot;

The system hopes to soon expand its Career Tech offerings in the southern part of the county, West said.

&uot;Right now, the options are limited in Georgiana and McKenzie. We may consider busing them to Greenville – it is something we have done in the past – but there are many considerations to take into account. We would love to be able to offer those students more options,&uot; West said.

&uot;We have 18 teachers across the county who are doing a wonderful job for us. We just wish more students would take advantage of what we have to offer.&uot;