A closer look at the Picayune Career and Technology Center
Published 7:00 am Friday, February 13, 2015
February is National Career and Technology month, and to commemorate the designation, the Item visited the Picayune Career and Technology Center on Goodyear Boulevard to get an in-depth look at the variety of programs Picayune students attend every day.
“This program is such a gift,” said Picayune Career and Technology Center Director Joaun Lee, “It offers these students the opportunity to make better informed college and career decisions.”
There are currently eight programs offered at the Career and Technology Center, including accounting and marketing classes that can be taken as one semester elective courses. The other courses, such as automotive services and health sciences, are two-year programs.
Lee said the hands-on activity and smaller class sizes make the instruction more meaningful for the students. “Applied academics,” was the phrase she emphasized when discussing the value of the programs at the center.
The instruction that takes place in these programs provides students with experience in skill-based professions.
During the Item’s visit, carpentry and construction students were working on a gun rack for the high school’s JROTC program.
The engineering and robotics classes work with fully-functioning 3-D printers, and the architecture and drafting students use professional drawing tables to outline blueprints.
“Some of these students don’t even have a driver’s license yet, but they are in these classrooms drawing house plans,” said Lee.
Another integral part of the program is job shadowing, where students receive the opportunity to observe and be mentored by trained professionals in their field of study.
Lee said that job shadowing requires a commitment from the community, and she is grateful to have such valuable cooperation from local businesses and community leaders.
“We don’t take it lightly that our community allows our students to job shadow,” said Lee, “It takes learning out of the classroom.”
Students of the health sciences program have shadowed at Highland Community Hospital, receiving on-the-job experience in everything from physical therapy to labor and delivery. The early childhood education program sends students to Early Head Start and West Side Elementary so teenagers can practice working with younger students.
Lee said the programs offer a risk-free learning environment.
“The students learn as much from their mistakes as they do from what they get right,” said Lee, “That’s where true knowledge comes from.”
Lee said that since many of the students at Picayune do not see what the Career and Technical Education Center has to offer, she has to recruit students to the program. Eighth grade students will visit the center in March, and brochures explaining the benefits of the program are sent home with students before electives are selected for their freshman year.
By completing a two-year program with an average grade of more than 80, students can earn a half scholarship to Pearl River Community College, and an average grade of more than 90 is enough to earn students a full career and technical scholarship.