By Leslie Poythress
A year after the William S. Hutchings Career Center’s inception last fall, the non-traditional magnet high school is still little known, but its top-notch, college-preparatory education will earn its reputation soon enough.
The Career Center, located on Riverside Drive, opened its doors in August of 2002 as the only school of its kind in the Middle Georgia area. Serving students across the country, the school offers a college-preparatory curriculum in addition to a tech-career preparatory curriculum in a challenging, application-driven environment.
At the Career Center, students “major” in a career path similar to the way students in college pursue degrees. Rather than selecting elective classes such as athletics and music, students take classes in their areas of concentration.
“The William S. Hutchings Career Center is truly the best kept secret in Middle Georgia,” assistant principal Laura Perkins said. “A staff of committed and experienced educators works diligently to help all students achieve their goals. Students who are interested in beginning their future today find an exciting and progressive environment in which to learn.”
Led by two assistant principals, the Career Center’s administration interacts daily with the students. Perkins, one of the two principals, has 23 years of experience as an educator. She spent the first fifteen years of her career in Wilkinson County teaching English and counseling students. Since then, she moved to Macon and has held several counseling positions in Bibb County. She holds a B.S. in secondary English education, a Master’s degree in guidance and counseling, and a Specialist’s degree in leadership. Perkins is currently involved in doctoral work in leadership.
The second assistant principal, Dr. Ty Ford, spent eleven years teaching math in various Alabama school systems, with his most recent assignment in the Auburn City Schools, before coming to Macon. Ford holds a B.S. (Bachelor of Science) degree in secondary math education and an Ed.D (Doctor of Education) degree in educational administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Currently the Career Center houses ninth and tenth grades, and eleventh grade will be added this fall, followed by twelfth grade’s addition for the 2004-2005 school year. This gradual transition into the high school curriculum allows the administration and faculty to be more fully prepared for each additional grade.
The W.S. Hutchings Career Center was designed for the future success of each student; therefore, classrooms and lab settings are integrated with the most advanced technology available to the system. The school’s cutting-edge technology enables students to transition seamlessly from high school to industry or post-secondary education.
Both the biology and chemistry labs are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. Four networked computer labs provide opportunities for all students to work with the newest technology on the market. The Plato Lab, an assisted-instruction computer lab, allows students to practice, review, and become proficient at their own rate in various subjects. All seven career-major labs are equipped with industry-level technology and equipment, ensuring students’ educational experiences are of the highest caliber.
The school works to provide students with hands-on, minds-on learning opportunities that go beyond traditional classroom instruction. A few of the opportunities offered to students this year have included kayaking on the front lawn—compliments of the Macon Housing Authority director—working on vehicles with the Service Department at Riverside Ford, meeting with the Mayor and City Council President, and visiting the Macon Traxs hockey players.
Opportunities for extracurricular enrichment and fun abound at the Career Center. The primary purpose of the school’s clubs and organizations is to extend the day-to-day curriculum and help students develop lifelong leadership skills. Students who meet the academic criteria of an overall average of 85 for the first semester are inducted into the Beta Club. Community and school service opportunities are organized through the EXCEL Club, which is affiliated with the Macon Exchange Club. The Career Center also has a student council, called the Chamber Club, that meets to represent classes and organizations. Most of the students participate in at least one extracurricular activity based on personal strengths and interests.
An exciting component of the school’s program is the Wonderful Wednesday program that brings guests on campus. Each week the Career Center hosts on-campus sessions, during which at least one community member comes to discuss interests, careers, and vocations with students. By bringing in leaders from the community, the school helps pique students’ interest and allows them to truly apply the material they are learning in class. The students sign up to hear these visitors, which have included local dignitaries, doctors, the county coroner, athletes, musicians, designers, chefs, and a host of people from other professions.
Parents are an integral part of the school program at the Career Center. The administration and faculty work to help students find success along with parents, whose support and acceptance of the program are essential. Since adolescents are masters at driving wedges between home and school, the school works hard to remove potential wedges and to partner with each parent. Career Center parents realize that the school is preparing their children for the future and wholeheartedly support the school’s mission.
As the Career Center prepares for another year, the freshman class for the upcoming year is almost filled, and only a few spaces remain in the sophomore and junior classes.
“An exciting year is planned and we look forward to more Bibb County parents and students being a part of one of the most exhilarating educational experiences this community has encountered!” Perkins said, echoing the enthusiasm of all the school’s faculty and students.
Programs of Study Offered at the Career Center
- Healthcare Science
- Technology Education: Medical Assisting, Medical Administrative Procedures, Medical Laboratory Technology, Emergency Medical Technology, Pharmacy Technology
- Business and Technology: Management, Marketing/Entrepreneurship, Information Technology, Computer Repair, Networking Systems
- Automotive Service Technology-ASE Certification: Brakes, Electrical/Electronic Systems, Engine Performance, Suspension and Steering
- Drafting and Design Technology: Architectural, Mechanical, Residential
- Industrial Systems Technology-CMS Certification: Industrial Mechanics, Industrial Safety, Plant Maintenance, Industrial Wiring
- Hospitality and Professional Foods: Food Production and Services, Food Science, Dietetics and Nutrition#