Escambia County High School was the setting for Jefferson Davis Community College’s Annual Adult Education and Skills Division Dinner / Meeting. Approximately 60 guests attended the meeting, including members of the JDCC faculty, staff, and administration and members of the Atmore and Brewton communities who serve on career technical and adult education advisory committees.
According to Dr. Bill Blow, Interim President at JDCC, “Our advisory committees are essential to the success of JDCC’s career technical programs. The committees serve as a major link between the programs and the fields they represent. They enable the College to stay current on the changing trends and job market for our students. Their identification of needed equipment to keep our programs on the cutting edge also helps the College make the case in seeking funds to purchase such equipment.”
The meeting was called to order by Cornelia Miller, Director of Adult Education, and greetings and opening remarks were made by Dr. Blow. Mary Beth Lancaster, Dean of Instruction, introduced guest speakers David Walters and Gene Dudley, with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS). Guests were then treated to a delicious meal prepared and served by Escambia County High School’s Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Keysha Gonzalez, and her students.
Dr. Blow stated that “It was a special privilege to hold our advisory committee meeting in the dining area of the Culinary Arts Program at Escambia County High School, and we appreciate Principal Dennis Fuqua and Superintendent John Knott making this possible. This gave us the opportunity to see the state-of-the-art facilities of the program and to enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by the culinary arts students.”
The featured portion of the meeting was a presentation by David Walters and Gene Dudley. Mr. Walters, State Director of Adult Education and GED testing for Alabama through the ACCS, talked to the attendees about the various services of the state’s adult education program. He highlighted the importance of building relationships between members of the community and the community college to provide what is often a second chance for many people who were unable to earn a high school diploma. Mr. Walters discussed the new optional high school diploma program, career readiness classes, and the Career Pathways Program – all designed to assist members of the community to build their employability skills and enter into a path of success for themselves and their families.
Mr. Dudley, Director of Career and Technical Education at ACCS, talked to the group about how the community college is the answer to putting people on the path to success and how important building strong relationships between business / industry and educational institutions is. He discussed important aspects of career technical education, such as Perkins funding, dual enrollment opportunities in career technical education fields, and the important role of the advisory committee. Mr. Dudley challenged the members of the committees to become a driving force in encouraging students, and ultimately their current and future employees, to earn credentials to enhance their job performance and job status. He also encouraged committee members to identify ways that JDCC can enhance its educational opportunities for career technical students, such as with curriculum offerings and purchases of training equipment, to ensure that they are prepared to enter and remain in the workforce successfully.
After Mr. Walters’ and Mr. Dudley’s presentations, Keith Lisenby, Chair of the Technical Division at JDCC, facilitated group meetings between the individual advisory committees to discuss issues that face new employees in their career fields, new trends in their career fields, and ways that JDCC can better train students so that they can meet the demands of their new career fields.