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Maury County Schools Prepare Students for Real-World Careers

Schools and businesses partner to provide students with hands-on experiences.

By Teree Caruthers on June 16, 2022

Recording studio at Mt. Pleasant Middle School
Recording studio at Mt. Pleasant Middle School / Nathan Lambrecht

Access to a skilled workforce is one of Maury County’s leading edges. 

Public and private Maury County schools team with local businesses to give students hands-on learning experiences that broaden their skills and prepare them for college and career success, ensuring a steady pipeline of talent to the region’s growing industries. 

At Mt. Pleasant High School, for example, a new multimedia innovation lab, which includes a video production lab and a working sound and recording studio, introduces students to careers in the multimedia arts — which are many given Maury County’s proximity to Nashville and its booming music industry.

“We work to provide hands-on experience with equipment and technology that students would be using in a job setting. We have been able to bring in a few musicians that have actual audio production experience. These guests always provide insight into the business and even some procedures and tricks that we can use moving forward,” says Sam Stough, Mt. Pleasant High School band director and multimedia arts instructor. “Even if they don’t end up working in an actual studio, the chance that students will interact with some aspect of media arts is increased because of our location.” 

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Mt. Pleasant Middle School recording studio / Nathan Lambrecht

A Space To Create

Mt. Pleasant’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) approach to learning begins in middle school with a young songwriters program. Mt. Pleasant High principal Dr. Ryan Jackson says STEAM allows students to express their creativity as well as learn problem-solving, team-building and communication skills.

“With the digital space and these creative, social media online platforms, students are already content creators,” Jackson says. 

“A program like this gives them an opportunity and access to cutting-edge resources that they can use to further their dreams, goals and aspirations and get those creative juices flowing and put them toward something really cool.”

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Mock trials at Agathos Classical School / Hilda S. Sorrow & Christopher Mark Sorrow

A Winning Argument

At Agathos Classical School, a small private school in Columbia, students on the mock trial team work with lawyers from local law firm Whatley & Associates to compete in fictitious cases developed by the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. In 2019, the team won the National High School Mock Trial Championship. 

“If what you want to do is go to law school, be a lawyer and try cases in the courtroom, there’s absolutely nothing close to the level of preparation and skill development that you can get anywhere else other than through mock trial,” says Cory Ricci, attorney with Whatley & Associates and the team’s coach and mentor. “Every single day, I’m using the skills I learned by competing in mock trial competitions.”

Ricci says even if students decide to pursue careers other than law or criminal justice, the skills they learn by competing in mock trials will help set them up for success.

“You learn to think on your feet. You’re constantly having to make on-the-spot arguments against your opponent. You also have to listen, be in the moment and adapt immediately,” Ricci says. “Another skill mock trial teaches is quality preparation. These students spend an enormous amount of time preparing, and there’s a direct correlation between the amount of preparation and how successful you are at this activity. Last, but not least, students learn public speaking, which is a valuable skill no matter what career they choose.”

Skills Player

At Columbia Central High School, career and technical education (CTE) instructors work to make sure every graduate is ready for either college or university or to go directly to the workforce earning a living wage.

“Students are presented with rigorous and in-depth coursework that aligns with workforce needs and are given ample opportunity to perfect their skills,” says Johnathan Michael, instructor for the advanced manufacturing/mechatronics program at Columbia Central High School. 

Students can also earn Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certifications, Snap-On Precision Measuring Instruments certifications as well as college credit through a dual credit program with Columbia State Community College toward an engineering systems technology degree.

Michael says the school meets regularly with its advisory board, industry partners, peers and community stakeholders to assess current employer needs. 

“Industry partners are asked to come into the classroom to speak about their products and what they do on a daily basis,” he says. 

“We take field trips to learn about manufacturing within our community, visit colleges, allow local businesses to judge competitions and continue to promote apprenticeships and internships.”

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