When it comes to the Bibb County School District’s strategic plan, the goals of “Student Achievement” and “Student and Stakeholder Engagement” are in full force at Hutchings College and Career Academy. There, students are receiving a career-ready education – intertwined with local work-based learning opportunities with community partners – that will follow students long after graduation.
“William S. Hutchings College and Career Academy is the centerpiece of Bibb County – it will change how students learn and how they are prepared for the 21st century,” said Dr. Cassandra Washington, CEO of Hutchings and Director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) for the Bibb County School District. “This program plays a significant role in ensuring that we graduate students who are college- and career-ready.”
Hutchings offers both opportunities for students to earn college credit while in high school, and to work directly with community partners to fast-track workforce readiness. Many of its students are earning both technical certificates and college credit, while staying in high school. Graduates of the program have gone on to immediate work with Robins Air Force Base, IT companies, GEICO, healthcare facilities, and more.
Sheridan Construction and International City Builders serve as valuable partners to construction pathway graduates. RICOH AMERICA partners with graphic communication and design students, whose services are provided to Bibb County schools and departments. Other community partners include MidSouth Federal Credit Union, Robins Federal Credit Union, Navicent Health, Match-up Promotions and Georgia Power. Partners serve on the CTAE advisory board, providing additional relevance and training to students.
The academy’s new location on Anthony Road offers state-of-the-art classrooms to provide students with “real-time” training areas similar to their future work environments, according to Dr. Washington. Each station is targeted to specific career pathways the student chooses. Hutchings College and Career Academy has linked real-world applications to many of the pathways. For example, the healthcare pathway classroom resembles hospital spaces to ensure that all students have real-world settings and application to ensure they walk away with stackable credentials (CNA licensures) and experience.
Compass Rose, scheduled to open in early 2017 to external stakeholders, will resemble a restaurant and culinary arts students will prepare the food in the professional state-of-the-art kitchen and hospitality, travel and tourism students will work as the servers. Also, Cosmetology students will open 360 salon, which is a state-of-the-art salon that has all the furnishings and appliances needed for giving students real-world application in order to be prepared for the personal care industry.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the students in Bibb County School District to have a facility that looks like the workplace where they can come in and touch 10 different career pathways – pathways in which industry partners are looking for secondary educational systems to build a future workforce pipeline,” she said. “Hutchings is an essential piece of the puzzle of rebuilding our community.”
Through the charter wavier, Hutchings hires expert staff for each chosen career path. The nursing instructor is a current RN with many years of experience. An executive chef in the culinary arts department was a training manager for Outback restaurant group. The secondary Culinary Arts instructor was a former personal chef to generals in the Air Force during his full career.
The new location also puts Hutchings in close proximity to Central Georgia Technical College, where students will be able to take classes as an extension of the Hutchings program.
The work happening at Hutchings College and Career Academy is just one piece of the puzzle in the Bibb County School District’s efforts to prepare students for college and/or career upon graduation. More than 6,900 students are enrolled in CTAE classes in the Bibb County School District. CTAE classes are offered at each of the middle and high schools, with students learning a wide range of skills within 26 career pathways.
Additionally, more than 1,400 Bibb County students currently participate in Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), such as FBLA and FFA, which enhance students’ secondary and post-secondary educational experience, and more than 200 students are participating in the Move On When Ready (MOWR) program to begin earning college credit while in high school. MOWR provides top quality education for high school students entering college and/or the workforce by providing learning opportunities that enhance confidence and create a strong foundation and smooth transition for post-secondary studies and the workforce.
“A College and Career Academy is an opportunity for true collaboration between secondary, post-secondary, local businesses, industry, and community stakeholders to ensure a community can create a well-educated, highly trained pipeline for the advanced workforce — this is the key component to a community’s growth and success,” Dr. Washington said.