1/21/16 ABSS, ACC to join forces for career counselor

ABSS, ACC to join forces for career counselor
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 1/21/16    
Reprinted with permission.      

The school system and community college hope to go in on an additional career coach at Southern Alamance High School with help from the state.

“The purpose really is to give a direct connection between the community college and the high school,” Cathy Johnson, ACC vice president for instruction, told the ACC Board of Trustees. “So our coordinator at the high school can bring students into our programs.”

While the job would be straightforward, filling it could be a little complicated. N.C. Works, a division of the state Department of Commerce, would pay for half the career coach’s salary, and the Alamance-Burlington School System would pick up the other half, Kent Byrd, ABSS executive director of secondary school leadership, told the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education.

The coach would work out of Southern High School, but be an ACC employee. So the college would handle hiring, vetting and background checks.

This is part of a statewide initiative to get these coaches into high schools, said Robin Bowers, ABSS director of Career and Technical Education, with N.C. Community Colleges, N.C. Public Schools and N.C. Works.

If the state awards the local grant, the new coach could start in the spring semester already under way, and continue through the 2016-17 school year. Algie Gatewood, ACC president, said the state has $500,000 in grants to spread around the state this spring and $1 million for next year.

Southern would be the best fit among ABSS high schools, Byrd said, with programs like agriculture that can feed students into ACC programs like horticulture. And with by far the largest student body in the district to work with, Southern’s career development coordinator has her hands full planning and monitoring internships and apprenticeships and doesn’t have a lot of time for one-on-one work with students on things like college applications, Byrd said.

Several other ABSS high schools already have additional career services. Graham and Cummings high schools have additional guidance counselors this year from AmeriCorps through UNC Chapel Hill, Byrd said, and the GEAR UP college preparatory program at those schools and at Williams High School offers some career counseling as well.

The college and school district hope to hear back from N.C. Works in February about whether or not the grants are coming, Johnson said, and while the coaches are only funded for a year and a half in the first round of grants, she hopes there could be ongoing funding to keep the coach at Southern.