Career coaches help students plan

Published 11:24 am Friday, February 1, 2019

By CINDY WARNER / Special to the Reporter

Middle school and high school students in Shelby County Schools can get a jump start on figuring out future career plans through the assistance of Shelby County Schools’ career coaches.

“Our career coaches have been a great addition to our system. They serve as a liaison between counseling and career and technical education,” said Julie Godfrey, Supervisor of Career Tech Education, College and Career Planning and Community Partnerships. “They equip students with information about various career pathways and assist them in making connections and connecting the dots.”

Shelby County has two career coaches that serve middle and high schools throughout the county. Dr. LaJuana Hamer serves schools in the Chelsea, Oak Mountain, Montevallo and Vincent communities, while Keyla Handley serves schools located in Calera, Columbiana, Helena, and the Career Technical Educational Center.

Godfrey said each day looks different for the career coaches as they visit the different schools. One day might be spent helping to organize or assist with career fairs, while other days might be utilized to help to connect industry partners to education or to acquire guest speakers to come and speak to the students about various career opportunities.

The coaches also educate students about apprenticeship opportunities and help to arrange job shadowing opportunities. They also assist students with career assessments and college applications, including financial aid opportunities. Students can sign up for a career coaching appointment via the following link:

“As a career coach, it’s very rewarding to help students who don’t have a plan for ‘life after high school graduation’ figure out what might be a good fit for them by looking at their career assessment results and discussing their interests and skills,” Hamer said. “Then evaluating all information to help them determine the best career for them based on their expected level of training and/or education.”

Hamer said for students who have a plan, it’s exciting to help them figure out the best path for their plan, whether it’s entering the workforce, earning credentials, entering the military or attending a two- or four-year college or university.

“Through guest speakers, college and industry tours and job shadowing opportunities – coordinated by career coaches – students have the tools needed to build the best plan for their life after high school graduation,” Hamer said.

The district’s newest career coach, Keyla Handley, just began her new job after spending several years working with the Shelby County Chamber. She believes her previous experience with the chamber gives her a good knowledge of the various workforce opportunities that are available to students.

“After six years of working closely with Shelby County schools in my previous role with The Shelby County Chamber, my love for students and helping to prepare them for their journey made becoming a career coach an exciting adventure for me,” Handley said. “I love getting to know each of the students in my schools and helping to prepare them for what’s to come after high school.

“From job shadowing to college applications, each student has a different journey in life, and I want to assist them in making the process easier,” Handley continued. “My goal as a career coach for Shelby County Schools is to expose as many students to as many different career opportunities as possible.”