Maury County Schools Help Students Prep for Success

High schools across Maury County give students the tools they need to build a career.

By
Kevin Litwin
On Monday, July 6, 2020 - 17:14
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Long before graduation day when a number of decisions crowd students’ paths, Maury County introduces high schoolers to the workforce to help prepare them for their futures and career success.

While a number of initiatives are in place to achieve this goal, one that builds education/industry partnerships is making quite an impact. Held by every high school in the county, Workforce Academy pairs local company representatives with juniors and seniors to teach them how to find and keep a job.

“We want all of our high school graduates ready to become contributing members of society, whether they go directly into the workforce, a community college, a technical college, a four-year institution or the military,” says Dr. Christopher Marczak, former superintendent of Maury County Public Schools.

Workforce Academy takes place at each high school in the district for one hour every week during nine weeks of the fall semester, then another Workforce Academy takes place over nine weeks during the spring semester.

The program is largely for students who have a career/technical focus as well as juniors and seniors who are struggling in high school and might want to go directly into the workforce, rather than pursue a college degree.

“However, the Academy is open to all students,” Marczak says. “We welcome students who might only want a GED to get right into the workforce, all the way up to kids who have been accepted to college. It’s a great program.”

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Columbia State Community College

Workforce How-Tos

Workforce Academy teaches students all the skills they need to succeed at a job, including how to complete an application, compile a resume, ace an interview, show up to work on time, build a strong work ethic, represent themselves on social media and properly format their voicemail.

“We also talk about minimizing your cellphone use at work, how to respond to positive and negative feedback, how to stay away from drugs and alcohol, what sexual harassment is and much more,” Marczak says. “Students get prepared for the workforce before they get a job, then we also present a module called, ‘I’ve got the job. Now what?’”

Each Workforce Academy is taught by a local partnership organization. For example, students at Spring Hill High School work with representatives from General Motors, the United Automobile Workers of America and Randstad Staffing, while representatives from Smelter Service Corp. in Mt. Pleasant teach students at Culleoka, Hampshire, Mt. Pleasant and Santa Fe schools. Rogers Group Inc. in Columbia is working with students at Columbia Central High School.

“Maury County employers are in need of good, reliable help, and we need to train future employees who are young, willing, energetic and ready to go,” says Devin Farmer, account manager with Rogers Group Inc. “We are providing Maury County’s youth with the tools they need to find stable and well-paying jobs, in many cases without needing to take on thousands of dollars in college debt.”

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Rebecca & Daniel Jacobson

Higher Education Preparation

Maury County Public Schools also partners with area colleges, such as Columbia State Community College and Tennessee College of Applied Technology, to offer students dual enrollment opportunities.

For example, Maury County Public Schools and Columbia State Community College work together to give students the opportunity to earn an associate degree in advanced integrated industrial technology through the college’s joint mechatronics program. Mechatronics is a branch of engineering that focuses on mechanical systems, robotics, electronics and computers.

Nate Meador, a student at Columbia Central High School, enrolled in the mechatronics program offered at his school through Columbia State. As a result, he is on track to earn his diploma from Columbia Central High School in May 2020, along with a one-year college certification from Columbia State.

“I’ve always liked cars and mechanics and want to channel those interests into the modern world, and the dual enrollment program has given me a great start,” Meador says. “I have so many options to go with this degree, and employers are already interested in me. This has been a great opportunity, and it is available to many Maury County students.”

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Columbia State Community College

Made in Maury

Once a year on the first Friday in October, the U.S. recognizes Manufacturing Day, setting aside time to inform high school students about the many attractive aspects of today’s modern manufacturing careers. In 2019, the celebration was held on October 4, and Maury County didn’t pass up this educational opportunity.

More than 120 juniors and seniors from Maury County Public Schools toured and learned about fabrication, precision CNC machining, robotics, design and automation at Armada Nutrition, Columbia Machine Works and Landmark Ceramics. Armada Nutrition manufactures nutritional powder supplements for many national and global brands, while Columbia Machine Works sends its technicians to repair manufacturing machines all over the U.S. Landmark Ceramics, a recent arrival to the region, produces porcelain tile for architectural, residential and commercial uses.

Opportunities Await

The students who participated in Manufacturing Day are enrolled in mechatronics and Project Lead The Way classes offered at Maury County high schools. Mechatronics combines the fundamentals of mechanical, electrical and computer science to develop innovative automated systems in a variety of manufacturing sectors.

That Friday, students saw firsthand how advanced and modern the manufacturing sector has become. Plus, not only did they view the high-tech work each of the three companies are involved in, but they found out that more than 4.5 million jobs will need to be filled by manufacturers in the U.S. over the next decade.

If you'd like to learn more about the Maury County area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Maury County Business

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years.