Valley Kiwanis donates to Chambers County Career Technical Center
VALLEY — Chambers County Career Technical Center Director Ken Sealy was the guest speaker at Wednesday’s noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley and talked about the phenomenal success the CTC is having. There’s no complicated formula for this. When students are provided courses of study they are genuinely interested in, they flock to them, excel in their course work and are well prepared to have promising careers as adults.
Colloquially speaking, the CTC is busting at the seams. Only a few years ago, the CTC had not much more than 100 students enrolled. There’s now more than 500 students taking courses there and space is becoming a problem.
Sealy credits much of this success to the teachers.
“They are excellent instructors,” he said. “They are passionate about what they teach. In many cases, they were doing that for a living before they became teachers.”
Sealy cited Bradley Zenor as an example of a student who has blossomed in what the CTC does. He’s yet to graduate but is already a machinist with West Point Industries.
“We had a Department of Defense competition recently, and he was on the team for Southern Union. He did their programming for them.”
The CTC is producing CNAs and cosmetologists who are workforce ready right out of high school.
In recent years, Chambers County Career Tech has gained quite a reputation around the state for the success of its teams in competitions. They have the respect of the Huntsville area and that’s NASA territory.
“They love competing against our teams and coming to Chambers County,” he said.
This year, the CTC has four students who have won at district and state competition and have qualified to represent Alabama in national competitions in Louisville, Kentucky, and Anaheim, California.
The only possible hangup could be raising the money for the trips. By state law, the Chambers County School District cannot fund the trips, and they will cost in the neighborhood of $5,000 each.
The Kiwanis Club donated $200 to help out, but more donations are needed.
Three students have qualified to complete in an automotive competition in Kentucky and another student is eligible to be in a customer service competition in California.
Sealy said the students aren’t just sitting around waiting for it to happen. They are busy fundraising. One of the students is selling bags of trail mix.
“When I came to the Career Technical Center 13 years ago, I had no idea of what I was getting into, but I love,” Sealy said. “It’s a wonderful thing, but it’s hard to keep up with what needs to be done.”
Sealy is excited about a new federal law that allows CTC-level education to be taught not just to high school students but to those as young as fifth graders as well.
Director of Secondary Schools Dr. Sharon Weldon said the CTC hasn’t had agriculture-related programs for that long, but they are exceeding popular.
“It’s exploding,” she said. “And the kids love it.”
Some of the students have already earned certification in cattle and could be on their way to well-paying jobs as beef inspectors.
Sealy said that if there’s one thing that sets the CTC apart from conventional education is that it prepares people for work. “That’s something that’s missing from some classes,” he said. “You don’t just sit there and take notes. We want them to learn how to work when they are in high school. They are also picking up on the soft skills they will need in the work force.”