Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 9, 2006

celebrates career tech growth

By Angie Long

Career technical education is the wave of the future, and the Butler County Schools System Career Tech Program is &#8220not going away, but growing,” Schools Superintendent Mike Looney said this week.

The occasion was the county's Annual Career Tech Legislative Dinner, held at Greenville High School Tuesday night. Counselor Tomesha Hamilton was the evening's emcee, with GHS students assisting during the meal.

Greenville High School Principal, Dr. Kathy Murphy, welcomed guests and assured those present she was &#8220a huge fan of what (Career Tech) does.”

&#8220Many of our students will be going into technical fields and this program is so important to them,” Murphy said.

County officials, career tech teachers and school administrators past and present joined Looney, Murphy, Career Tech Director Joseph West, BOE Chair Terry Williams and others.

The evening offered a chance to both fellowship and reflect on the impact the county's Career Tech Program is making in the schools and communities.

Representative Charles Newton, filling in for Senator Wendell Mitchell, served as keynote speaker. He shared some details of the most recent legislative session.

He also remarked on education's role in the world today.

&#8220Probably the most important profession in our society is that of the educator,” Newton said.

&#8220More and more emphasis is on career tech-oriented employment, so career tech education is important. We need more people who are talented in a variety of fields. Also, we need that basic training in Career Tech taking place in high school.”

Looney said, &#8220We do our best when we listen to our children. They are saying, ‘We want Career Tech, and we want more choices.' We will continue to look for resources to meet our students' needs.”

He added, &#8220People once equated Career Tech with special education, and that is certainly not true. Some of our best and brightest are Career Tech students these days.”

Sherry Key, interim director for the State Career Tech Department, also pointed out the recent legislative session was the first time an allocation had been made specifically for career tech education.

&#8220I am also proud to tell you all the courses in your program are 100 percent business and industry-certified,” Key said to generous applause.

She stressed only 14 percent of jobs in today's market called for no skills beyond the high school level, versus 65 percent just a few decades ago.

&#8220We are currently in the process of developing advanced placement courses for Career Tech…this means these classes taken in high school will count for college credit, giving students a smoother transition into a post-secondary setting,” Key said.

&#8220Career Tech Education is for all students. We want to help our young people get good jobs. All Alabama students need to be prepared for college, technical school, work.”

Both Looney and West lauded city and county officials, school administrators and teachers through the system for their &#8220steadfast and strong” support of the county's Career Tech Program.

During the evening, special recognition was given by Katrina Smith to recent retiree John Salter, and to Jerry Joyce of Trenholm State Technical College for their contributions to the Butler County program.