ORANGE PARK, Fla. - The school bell in Clay County rang Tuesday morning, and when this year is over, more students than ever will have the training they need for today's jobs.
Orange Park High School is implementing new programs this year that are really "working."
Hands-on experience in carpentry and construction, sewing jobs that require special skills to complete a specific task, training in the health care industry, and high-wage technological careers: These are the jobs Clay County students are being prepared for in junior high school.
"Its what our communities are asking for, what our business partners are asking for," said Alice Paulk, of Clay County Career and Technical Education. "We're looking at northeast Florida, what's marketing for those areas."
Paulk said administrators have found a way to match the needs of the business community with the desires of their students.
Two new junior high school academies are paving the way for students to attain success.
"We'd like to say our programs are for college and career, and it's proven that technical education programs and academies have a higher GPA, less absented problems," Paulk said.
It seems that the results are paying off in Clay County.
Clay County's Industry Certification Program provided certification for 500 students in 2008. A thousand students were certified in 2009, and last year, 1,400 students received the training they need.
"We have a great relationship with business partners," Paulk said. "Advisory boards meet with institutions and parents and make sure they're on track."