Enrollment at the Alcorn Career and Technology Center is increasing.
The center has just shy of 500 students attending this school year. Those students are coming from the three Alcorn County high schools at Alcorn Central, Biggersville and Kossuth.
Alcorn School District Superintendent Brandon Quinn said he believes the increased enrollment is due to the stronger emphasis on the importance of CTE (Career and Technology Education). Career courses are preparing students for the workforce right after graduating high school.
“Career Coaches have made a huge difference in educating students and the community on the benefits of gaining Career Technical Certifications,” said Quinn. “Our CTE staff is also making a big difference in increasing enrollment.”
Quinn said career center staff has developed a “family-like atmosphere with high expectations.”
“They all have a strong desire to see students succeed,” he added.
While the majority of students are taking work-based learning courses earning valuable CTE credits, other popular courses include Marketing, Law and Public Safety, Culinary Arts and Automotive Services.
According to Alcorn Career and Technology Center Director Russ Elam, courses taught at the center are relevant to the labor market.
“A loss of skilled workers over the last few years has created a higher demand for these skills with higher wages,” he said. “Our center offers a balance of academic and shop-related courses.”
Internships and apprenticeships have become an option for some students as they land jobs with industry partners like Hago Automotive in Iuka. The center is a partner with Three Rivers Planning & Development District in the Summer Program which is allowing students to go to work for course credit at local industries like Coca-Cola and Caterpillar.
Some courses also offer national certifications and clinical experience. Such happens for first and second-year students enrolled in the Teacher Academy course who assist teachers in elementary and middle school classrooms on their home campus one day per week after the first nine weeks. Health Science students in the second year are also able to work one day per week in various health center settings throughout Corinth.
Elam said the plan for the future is to do much of the same.
Plans include the district hosting a hiring expo for seniors. The director also wants to continue increasing the number of students who earn career endorsements and national certifications while also boosting overall student enrollment.
“First-year students are excited about highly interactive programs and the opportunity to participate in classes that they have chosen for themselves,” added Elam. “I believe that alone will keep students interested in attending a class at the career center.”