Program aimed at post-grad success

Superintenant of Shelby County Schools, Randy Fuller, speaks at the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Pelham. (Reporter Photo/Jessica Crihfield)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Shelby County School System next year will be expanding a program aimed at ensuring local high school graduates are ready for the next steps in their lives, whether it’s college, the military or the workforce.

During the 2011-2012 school year, the school system held “My Future” pilot programs in Chelsea and Calera high schools, Shelby County Schools Superintendent Randy Fuller said during a May 30 Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Pelham Civic Complex.

Through the program, school officials worked with high school seniors to help the students develop post-graduation plans. As a result, every senior at those schools graduated with plans to either attend a four-year college or a two-year college, enter the military, attend technical school or enter the workforce, Fuller said.

“This is an intentional effort to guide them to the next step in their lives. This is probably the first time 100 percent of a graduating class did something like that,” Fuller said.

Fuller said the program was created to “build a bridge of transition” between high school and life after graduation, and said the ultimate goal is for every Shelby County student to graduate “with a meaningful life plan.”

Next year, the school system will expand My Future to more high schools, and is looking to have the program in place in all high schools in the system within the next several years, Fuller said.

“We are ensuring they are ready for college or a job that can support a family. Every child doesn’t need to go to college. There are other ways of training them,” Fuller said.

The school system has been working with professors at the University of Montevallo to strengthen its college-readiness offerings, and is in the process of establishing culinary arts, health services, engineering and other academies at local high schools to help train students for future jobs.

My Future also is pairing students with internships at local businesses, and is helping students create online portfolios containing resumes, job references, community service records and more.

“Our number-one priority as a school system is creating a successful graduate,” Fuller said. “I’m passionate about this, because I feel this is our responsibility as educators.”