CTEC helps students get a head start on careers

Published 9:21 am Friday, November 12, 2021

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By SASHA JOHNS | Community Columnist

High School students across Shelby County have an opportunity to find out about how to get a head start on life while still in school.

On Nov. 30, the Career Technical Education Center’s Open House in Columbiana will give a peek inside what CTEC can offer students in Shelby County.

This part of the county school system specializes in teaching students the skills needed for specific trades. As early as their sophomore year, students can choose from training in automotive technology, cosmetology, construction, plumbing, healthcare or biomedical sciences and more.

The CTEC open house is designed not only for current students to show families what they are working on, but also to let prospective students catch the excitement that those already finding their niche are experiencing.

Joel Worrell, a senior at Calera High School, is a third-year culinary student at CTEC. Worrell is the ambassador for his program, and he speaks with heartfelt enthusiasm about his experience in the program.

“The chance to be in the culinary arts class taught me what I want to do with my life,” he said. “Not only have I learned the skills I need and opened my mind to what it will take to do it, it also gave me chances to compete, and even earn a scholarship to continue learning after I graduate.”

Worrell’s team also came in third at the Prostart Competition in the area of management. They built an imaginary business model that focused on starting a food truck business. Their project covered starting the business from the ground up and covered running a business from management to advertising.

“It was a great lesson in problem solving,” he said.

Daniel Richards, the principal of CTEC, said the training that happens at his school has evolved a great deal since the days when his generation was in high school. These days, even AP students see it as a viable option to get ahead in college, not just a specific skill.

Richards’ hope for his school is that they will eventually offer true apprenticeship programs in many of the 11 courses.

“We’re already trying to partner with several local businesses like collision repair shops so that kids can get real-world, hands on experience in the trade they want to pursue,” he said. “Hopefully these will grow into apprentice opportunities as we continue to partner.”

Richards’ hope for CTEC is to expand the internship offerings and finalize the registered apprenticeships that are in the works giving students the most opportunities they can.

“While we’re already partnering with businesses and students are gaining real-world, hands-on experience in the industry, these apprenticeships would give students progressive wages and more specialized training which would be beneficial to both students and these companies that are in need of good employees,” he said.

Richards welcomes students as young as eighth grade to come out to the open house with a few programs in mind to spend time looking into. It’s beneficial to have an idea before high school for students to know if they want to enter the CTEC program so they can plot a course of action to qualify for their study of interest.

The open house event will be open to all students of Shelby County from 5-6:30 pm. CTEC is located at 701 Highway 70 in Columbiana.