06/08/10 — Schools add vocational academies

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Schools add vocational academies

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 8, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County Public Schools will add three new vocational academies at high schools in the fall -- in drafting, machining and transportation.

The Board of Education voted Monday night to enter into a memorandum of agreement with Wayne Community College for the three initiatives.

Board Chairman Rick Pridgen called the partnership with the college a "valuable asset" for the school system.

In recent years, the board has favored the addition of vocational and occupation programs as an option for high school students who might not want to take the traditional college path.

Anne Millington, director of cooperative education at the college, was on hand to discuss the logistics of each program.

The drafting academy, she said, will be offered on-site at Wayne School of Engineering, for students in grades 10-12.

The machining academy, also designed for students in grades 10-12, will be based at Charles B. Aycock High.

"We look at this as an idea for students to do some career exploration," Ms. Millington explained.

WCC instructors will be furnished, as will software for the programs, she said.

Classes are eight weeks each, with two to be held in the fall and two in the spring.

The transportation academy will be open to all public high school students, offering college level courses in auto body repair, automotive systems technology and aviation systems technology.

"They will have to come to our campus for these particular classes," said Ernie White, division head for applied technology. "We'll offer lab space and instructors and tool kits."

The college is also considering how the college aviation courses might translate to the high school environment, he added.

Pridgen said the academies are in line with where industry is going in the region, making the partnership with the college a nice fit.

Board member John Grantham asked about the marketability of the new vocational programs.

"We have been so far fortunate to find jobs," White said. "That doesn't mean they're geographically close by. They may have to move but there are plenty of jobs.

"One other thing that we didn't mention is that these high school students will earn college credit ... and skill certificates, which means that they can go to work sooner instead of starting at ground zero."

The three academies will join other vocational programs already in place across the county, which include business, health occupations, diesel, construction and a teacher academy.

John Twitty, co-principal at Goldsboro High School, also said his school is investigating the possibility of launching a cosmetology program there in the future.