A new accent on career technical education is energizing the start of the school year at Russellville Middle School in Alabama.

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“This is actually something we’ve been working on for a while, strengthening our career technical program, but the students will begin reaping the benefits when they come back to school next week,” said City schools Superintendent Heath Grimes.

According to Grimes, the district has a five year strategic plan of building the career technical program and community in the various academies, and forging stronger relationships with industry and business.

“We realized that instead of training these students in the areas we thought necessary, we needed to be letting our businesses and industries drive what we need to be offering students,” he said. “They know best what’s needed for these students to go to work.”

One change is that the school system will implement the career exploration course in eighth grade, which Grimes says will help students when they enter ninth grade with course selection. High School Principal Jason Goodwin says the program is headed in a good direction.

“Every student will be college, career and life ready,” he said. “We’ve implemented 10 different academies, including pre-med in health sciences and engineering, two really huge areas now. These partnerships we’ve developed with business and industry play into our goal of determining what the community needs so we can provide that training for our students.”

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