New Academies help create a well-rounded learning environment at RCS

In order to bolster the academic offerings for the 2016-2017 school year, Russellville High School will be offering five new Career Academies that aim to prepare each student for career and academic success.

These academies include Business, Engineering, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Pre-Med. They will be offered through RHS’ Career Technical Education Department and will feature new classes that haven’t been offered in the past.

The academies are optional and will not be required of every student. Students will have the opportunity to enroll in one of these academies before their 10th grade year and will follow a set course of study for the remainder of their time at RHS that will include core classes as well as specialized CTE classes pertaining to their specific career academy.

“The goal is to make sure we are preparing these students for life beyond high school,” RHS CTE Coordinator Mike Powell said. “By tailoring a specific course of study, those students who are interested in pursuing careers in manufacturing, engineering, business, general healthcare or pre-med fields can go ahead and prepare themselves for the types of classes they will face in college or the types of situations they will face in their careers.

“It gives them a jump on things and hopefully an upper hand that will place them in a better position to achieve success in their chosen field.”

Some of the perks of enrolling in and graduating from one of these five Career Academies include receiving industry-approved credentials during high school, following a well-organized course of study, better employability rates when entering the work force and a stronger academic background for future training and education.

“Russellville has a very strong career technical program that helps prepare students for future careers,” RHS Principal Jason Goodwin said. “These academies just expand these offerings and will offer a more specialized approach to these five areas by blending academic elements with career technical elements.

“Some of these academies will require students to enroll in AP classes because they will be dealing with these more stringent classes if they choose to pursue higher education in order to reach their goals. Some of the academies will place emphasis on the more technical side of academics because that is what these students will experience if they pursue further training after high school. It’s all about making sure they have the best foundation possible before they leave RHS.”

Powell said the Career Academies are also a good way for students to get a better idea of what they want to do later in life.

“Some students have an idea in high school of what type of career they want to pursue later in life only to get to college or get into the work force and realize that whatever career that was is actually not something they are interested in doing long-term,” Powell said. “At this point, they’ve wasted a lot of time and energy and financial resources pursuing something that they don’t actually enjoy.

“Through these academies, our students can get somewhat of an idea about what these five career fields are like and the work it will take to achieve success in these fields. If a student thinks they want to be an engineer but ends up hating the coursework, it might be an indication that they need to choose a different path. The same goes for the healthcare field. Some students might not want to pursue health-related fields after getting a taste of the coursework.”

But Powell said the opposite is true as well.

“Some students might not have a clue what they want to do after high school, and these academies could help them figure it out,” he said. “Either way, we want our students to be prepared once they enter the real world beyond high school.”

Powell and Goodwin both pointed out the Career Academies are also a positive asset for the community as a whole, in particular the strong business community present in Russellville city and the surrounding Franklin County and Shoals area.

“This is basically workforce development,” Powell said. “We are contacting local businesses and industries to see what types of jobs and what types of skills are needed to fill those jobs at their companies so we can provide them with trained and ready employees in the future. We stand behind the education we provide at Russellville City Schools and want our graduates to have opportunities to pursue careers here locally instead of having to move off in order to find good jobs or to succeed in a given profession.”

Goodwin said he’s excited to see these Career Academies in action in the coming school year.

“Anything that will help our students reach their full potential is something we want to be part of,” he said. “We hope many of our students will take advantage of these new opportunities.”

Students who wish to enroll in one of the new Career Academies at RHS can do so when they go to register for classes in August.

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