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Board receives career tech update

Russellville City Schools Career Technology Director Natalie Bendall gave the Russellville City Board of Education an update on a busy fall semester for the system's career and technical education program at the board's December 14th meeting.

Career technology has an impact not only on our students' future but on the community too,” Bendall said. “This is the bridge we need to build a work force that in time will build our city.”

Bendall explained that the career and technical education program has a strategic plan similar to that of Russellville City Schools.

We started doing a strategic plan with goals like our system did. I think we're going to see a lot of things change in our educational system in the next few years,” Bendall said.

One of those goals is to encourage students to understand that a career in a technical field can be the foundation to a successful professional future.

February is Career Technology Month and we'll have activities systemwide from kindergarten through 12th grade at every school. Our goal is to destigmatize some of the career tech programs we have for students,” Bendall said. “We want students to find out what they're passionate about and get them plugged into the right spot.

We've said so much how you have to go to college to be successful but there are many students who can be very successful and never attend college,” she added.

RCS Superintendent of Education Heath Grimes said that more than a third of high school students don't attend college and it's vital to provide those students with the necessary training and skills to find some other professional trade.

Grimes is pleased with the growth of the career and technical education program but the program is faced with a major roadblock now that it has grown.

We have a list of programs we'd like to offer but we cannot because we're so limited on space. That is definitely something we need to address,” Grimes said. “We don't have a single space to put another teacher into or to expand this program at all.”

Bendall told the board about some of the program's fall semester accomplishments, including:

--receiving positive BIC reviews for Plant Systems (Ag), Engineering and Auto Tech.

--participation in the North Alabama Works summit and cluster meetings to build relationships with business and industry and to listen to their needs.

--starting an EMS program that now has 19 students.

--organizing business/industry tours for students not planning to attend a university upon graduation.

--participation in an Educational Attainment Focus Group at Calhoun Community College. This is part of a statewide effort to build a strategic plan that will make recommendations on how to increase educational attainment in Alabama.

Some of the needs Bendall said career technology has at Russellville City Schools include:

--need for more space to effectively implement the hands-on, project-based learning that is needed for an impactful CTE program.

--support to pursue innovative waivers to the State Department of Education that will allow career tech students to take courses where their passion is and that are aligned with their future.

--support for business and industry credentials to continue to be awarded at the high school level.

In other action, the board:

--approved Cory Trapp as an athletic consultant for the Russellville junior varsity and varsity baseball programs. Board member Greg Trapp abstained from this vote.

--approved renewal of a one-year contract for school resource officer Donald Aycock.

--approved facility use requests for West Elementary gymnasium on January 10 and 11, 2018, for a cheer clinic sponsored by the RHS cheerleaders and on January 15 and 16 for the RHS Tigerettes to host a Tigerette clinic as a fundraiser.

--approved a change in board meeting times from 3:30 p.m., on the fourth Thursday of the month to 8 a.m., on the same date.

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