Crystallizing Students Real-World Professional Success
Fulton Schools College Career Academy readies students in South Fulton to be dynamic successes in the workforce. Located in Union City, the curriculum covers many trades for 9th through 12th graders, including Culinary Arts, AV/Film, Construction and Aviation. Teaching as a Profession, Animation and dual enrollment at Atlanta Technical College mark new additions, sparked by growth. Youth from neighboring high schools–Banneker, Langston Hughes, Tri-Cities, Westlake and Creekside–rotate and travel by bus to the campus for half day instruction on a trimester schedule. The academy has more than doubled in attendance since it first opened in Fall 2016 with a little less than 200 students.
This term’s enrollment is just under 600 students! It’s a popular option for the state’s youth. Coordinator Lorissa Edwards says the lab-intensive educational experience stimulates the students, keeping them engaged, solidifying retention, and attracting even more to the vocational program. “It’s not a sit-and-get-situation,” she says. “They’re actually flying drones, [stepping into] flight and helicopter simulators, and using the weather station. And the culinary arts students are cooking, smelling and touching.” She adds that whereas 20 years ago vocational education was an either/or model, today, it’s moved to a both/and model. The high schools focus on preparing youth for college, and the Career Academy, as the name suggests, graduates them, armed with certifications, to an actual feasible career. Edwards loves that in her role she attends to the needs of a diverse array of students districtwide, making her a more well-rounded leader. She also handles community partnerships, which really make the institution thrive. They offer donations, such as aprons or mentorship through providing robust and rigorous internships. Career Academy also welcomes additional partners.
“I don’t think we could ever exhaust the different experiences that kids could have through those pathways,” Edwards says, noting that her core purpose is to solicit opportunities for students and to provide students with exposure to career skills through them. She wants students to be viable citizens who can seamlessly be professional and collaborative, exemplify great character leadership, innovative with ideas, and feel confident as they step into the workplace.