The Walker County Center of Technology (WCCT) recently received two of 10 statewide awards presented for leadership in career technical education.WCCT Director Chris McCullar and counselor Kelli …
The Walker County Center of Technology (WCCT) recently received two of 10 statewide awards presented for leadership in career technical education.
WCCT Director Chris McCullar and counselor Kelli Adkins each received awards from the Alabama Association for Career and Technical Education (ALACTE), for state career tech director and counselor of the year for 2018, respectively.
According to the ALACTE website, awards are presented "to promote excellence in career and technical education by recognizing individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the field, programs that exemplify the highest standards and organizations that have conducted activities to promote and expand career and technical education programs."
In order to be considered for the awards, both McCullar and Adkins submitted letters to ALACTE, detailing their accomplishments.
McCullar has served as WCCT director for four years. During that time, he has helped implement new programs — electrical technology, precision machining, industrial maintenance, HVAC technology and aviation technology — and developed a successful transition plan for students starting coursework at WCCT.
In addition, McCullar helped create a new schedule that allows first, second and third-year students to attend classes specific to their grade level, enhancing retention. In years past, students in all grade levels were together in the same class with varying skill sets, which presented a challenge for educators.
A number of industry partnerships have also been secured under McCullar's leadership, which help place students in well-paying jobs after graduation.
In an interview with the Daily Mountain Eagle in May, McCullar said, "The stigma that has been attached to this place is what we've been working so hard to break through for the past four years. We're trying to get the right kid in the right class, at the right time."
Adkins has been an educator for 21 years. She taught secondary science for 12 years before becoming counselor at WCCT.
In her role as counselor, Adkins helps students determine their career goals, organizes WCCT tours for 700 to 800 eighth graders in Walker County each year, helps students dual enroll with Bevill State, provides assistance to help students craft resumes and have successful interviews, and assists in taking students on industry visits, among many other job duties.
"I advocate for career technical education as a viable option for all students by advocating for WCCT and career technical education in my community," Adkins said.
Shawna McCullar, career coach for Walker County and Jasper City schools, said it is an impressive feat for WCCT to earn two of only 10 awards presented by ALACTE, which is the career tech division of the state department of education.
She said nominations for the awards occur at the state level, and officers of ALACTE choose the winners. Awards were presented on July 31 at the ALACTE conference.
"Out of those, for us to have received two of them from one school, that's a big deal," Shawna McCullar said.
She said WCCT is currently working to encourage students to further their education after high school, based, in part, on some recent eye-opening statistics.
"In data of people over 24 years old, only 15 percent of the people in Walker County have a two-year degree or a four-year degree, so we're really going to try to increase the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completions, especially for our students who are on free lunch," she said. "They're pretty much guaranteed two years of free college."
Through recent grant funding, WCCT is also implementing a Ready to Work program for high school seniors, along with a simulated work place environment.
"It's because of Chris and Kelli's leadership that we're getting chosen for things like that. We are so excited about that," Shawna McCullar said.