Career and Technical Education Program awards standout students

By Michael Brooks /  Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – The Shelby County Schools Career and Technical Education program sponsored an awards dinner on April 30 at the Shelby County Instructional Services Center in Alabaster. Some 48 middle and high schoolers were recognized with certificates.

“These are stand-out students and stand-out teachers,” said Director Julie Godfrey. “They represent us well as we work with industry, the local chamber and our other partners to try to provide a skilled work force.”

Godfrey has been program director for five years after spending more than 20 years in the classroom. She said the CTE program in Shelby County has 62 teachers, 6400 students and 56 areas of study.

“What we try to do is help our students figure out their purpose and find their passion,” she said. “Sometimes we help them find out what they don’t want to do, but that’s part of our mission as well! Many of our programs offer credentials, so our graduates are a step ahead when they graduate.”

Shelby County Chamber Vice President of Business Development Jackson Pruett was keynote speaker. He commended the students and teachers for their initiative.

“We meet with local industry all the time,” he said, “and 70 percent of new jobs come from existing businesses. The number one discussion we have is about workforce and talent needs. The current business climate is the best its been in 10 years and businesses in our area and all over the country are seeking new employees.”

Pruett said there were 2,500 job openings in Shelby County; 15,000 in the Birmingham metro area (seven counties) and 55,000 jobs available in the state.

“This is a good thing, but the lack of skilled workers is the number one barrier,” he said. “You students here tonight are the answer to this crisis. The things you learn will separate you from others and you’re on the path to a very bright future.”

Pruitt challenged students with four key principles.

“First, be a life-long learner,” he said. “The nature of today’s work requires growth. Always be open to professional development to increase your skills.”

Second, he encouraged students to stay engaged with their local high schools and CTE programs.

“Don’t forget those who helped you and give back to them as you start your careers,” he said.

Pruett further exhorted the students to be mentors to others.

“Winston Churchill said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ All of us can find meaning in life by reaching out to help others.”

Fourth, Pruett exhorted students to find value in their work.

“Tim Keller noted that Jesus didn’t come first as a philosopher or a king, but as a carpenter,” he said. “All work is valuable to God and even those jobs we may think are menial have dignity.”

Vincent High School senior and salutatorian Kaitlin Garrison was among the honorees. She said t he CTE program had been beneficial in her growth and career choice.

“I started CTE in 9th grade, so this is my fourth year,” she said. “I had a career in mind early on, but the program gave me better focus. I started in the business program but now work in pharmacy tech. I’m employed at the Medicine Chest in Vincent and am training for my pharmacy tech license.”

Garrison has been accepted into the pharmacy school at Samford University and will begin studies in the fall.

“I hope my schedule will allow me to do work-study at Samford,” she said. “There’s nothing like practical experience, and I’m grateful I’ve had this opportunity.”

The evening meal was prepared by the culinary and hospitality CTE students from Montevallo High School.

The following students were honored during the event:


Calera High School

-Katie Scott Troy – Business

-Maria Monteiro – Marketing

-Taryn Bilberry – Carpentry

-Amaya Cummings – Navy Junior ROTC


Calera Middle School

-Cora Prescott – Business

-Sabrena Wheeler – Family and consumer sciences


Chelsea High School

-Sara Curren – Business

-Noah Lee – Drafting/design

-Nia Simone Cummings – Family and consumer sciences


Chelsea Middle School

-Brody Wesson – Business

-Tamya Morris – Family and consumer sciences

-Sam Junkin – Project Lead the Way


Columbiana Middle School

-Alexander Moody – Business

-Tanner Stogner – Family and consumer sciences

-Colin Davis – Project Lead the Way


Career Technical Education Center

-Nicholas Ulderich – Automotive technology

-Jonathan Barrett – Biomedical science

-Lyle Jensen – Construction technology

-Jake Horn – Collision repair

-Lizzie Brown – Cosmetology

-Charly Stringfellow – Culinary

-Brendyn Allen – Health science

-Michael Buird – Plumbing

-Tiffany Byrd – Public service

-Christopher Smith – Robotics

-Colby Miller – Welding


Helena High School

-Jessie Zou – Business

-Lexi Berry – Health science


Helena Middle School

-Daniel Campbell – Agriscience

-Migdalia Lopez-Jumenez – Business

-Jackqueline Galvan – Culinary/hospitality and tourism


Montevallo Middle School

-Brianna Robertson – Business


Oak Mountain High School

-Carley Sharp – Business

-M’Kiyah Mitchell – Family and consumer sciences

-Carson Easterling – Information technology

-Arlington Pitman – Marketing

-Richard Fabian – Project Lead the Way


Oak Mountain Middle School

-Katelyn Miller – Business

-Natalie Gaston – Family and consumer sciences

-Jack Stewart – Project Lead the Way


Shelby County High School

-Reed Horton – Agriscience

-Amanda Vick – Business

-Anna Martin – Family and consumer sciences


Vincent Middle/High School

-Tyler Morales – Agrisciences

-Allie Totton – Army Junior ROTC

-Jaitlin Garrison – Business