Community leaders tour career academies for education ideas

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, December 12, 2017


NATCHEZ — City leaders and members of the Natchez-Adams County Educational Development Foundation traveled to several schools in Louisiana last week to tour career academies.

The trip was a hopeful precursor to Natchez-Adams County forming its own career academy in the future.

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Marvin Jeter III, consultant to the community group Natchez United, said the trip was an opportunity to see the success career academies can bring to students.

“It was a good trip,” Jeter said. “Everybody got a lot out of it.”

The group consisted of six representatives of the Natchez-Adams School District, including board members Phillip West and Renee Wall; Alcorn State University Director of Student Services Beverly Adams; Adams County Supervisor Ricky Gray; Debbie Hudson, president of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce; representatives of NACED; and representatives of Natchez United.

The troop visited Acadiana High School academies of business and finance and hospitality and tourism, Carencro High School’s Academy of Information Technology, and Opelousas High School Academy of Biomedical Sciences in Lafayette and St. Landry parishes.

A majority of the trip, Jeter said, was spent showing how academies promote experiential learning and how the specialized schooling can help bridge the gap between high school and joining a college or work force.

Along the way, Jeter said the group met students who had received congressional awards, received scholarships and one student who received approximately $25,000 for identifying a security issue with a company.

“That kid went from thinking about dropping out in eighth grade to getting a full scholarship,” Jeter said. “It’s made a huge difference to these kids.”

Jeter said he has only heard positive feedback from members of the group and hopes the examples will eventually lead to a similar program in Natchez.

“(The trip) gave them some understanding of the difference these programs make,” he said.

An academy such as one of those the group toured, Jeter said in a meeting last Tuesday, could also help grow the economy of Natchez by drawing students and by retaining skilled workers.

Jeter said he is not yet sure which academy might best fit in Natchez. What matters most, he said, is how the program helps to grow the students and the community around it.

“It doesn’t matter which program we had here,” Jeter said, “as long as it gets the community engaged.”