Montgomery Public Schools Readies Pipeline of Future Workers
By David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
The Montgomery Public Schools district is the foundation for a new workforce development pipeline for the area.
That pipeline is providing the future employees and eventually the future employers in the River Region. Of course, the district is not alone in preparing tomorrow’s skilled workforce, but partners with Trenholm State Technical College, Alabama Department of Education, Alabama Community College System, Region 7 Workforce Development Council, Alabama Industrial Development Training and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I understand that we are initially the pipeline,” Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Margaret Allen said. “I understand that very well. It is truly important.”
To prepare the region’s future workers, the district is adding programs to its technical education division as well as a new name as it readies for a move to One Center and a new building in the fall of 2016.
The name is being changed from the Montgomery Technical Education Center, which is located on Hugh Street, to the Montgomery Preparatory Academy for Career Technologies or MPACT.
It also coincides with the district’s mission: “To engage, to educate and inspire.” Allen said that MPACT “works like a glove because students are in classrooms where they have interests, so that’s going to engage them. The wonderful teachers in those areas will be educating them. Hopefully, through that education, they will be inspired to go out there and take those jobs.
“I mean they are coming out of high school with credentials. You are fit for the job and probably more fit than the general populace because they would have had recent training and be introduced to recent technologies. They will be ready to go and we’ll be very excited for them.”
Their future employers will be quite excited, too, for that pipeline, which will continue to grow as the school district expands MPACT. The district currently offers heating, ventilation and air conditioning; graphic design; electrical engineering; welding; and construction/building science.
In the fall of 2015, the district hopes to add information technology networking, fire science and public safety. Three more programs are expected to be added in fall 2016 for the new facility, which was the old Montgomery Mall. Those programs are industrial systems, which includes industrial maintenance; pre-engineering; and medical sciences.
Two of those programs – industrial systems and medical sciences – were high on the list of industry and business leaders who have been talking to the school district for months about their needs. “Everything that we have here,” Allen said, referring to a list of programs, “is indeed a response to some need from a business or industry. We listened to what they were saying.”
There are now about 200 students in the technical education program, which needs room to expand. “Each one of these areas need space to really do a great job,” Allen said. “There are additional pieces of equipment that they need that are not here, but can be (at the new facility).”
The goal is to have 300 students in the fall program and then 400 for fall 2016. The new school, which will be located in the former JCPenney building, is in the early designing stages.
Allen said the name change came about when the principal, teachers and central office staff talked about the new facility coming to the recently named One Center. “We are moving to a center and we wanted to give it a new technological push into the process that we’re trying to incorporate.”
Nancy Beggs, state interposition officer for Montgomery Public Schools, told the Montgomery Advertiser: “I want to say that we are trying to elevate the rigor in career technical education so we are proposing what used to be called career technical programs be called career and technical majors.”
Allen said that the new name “adds character.” She also liked the acronym MPACT. “That’s what we want to do,” Allen said. “That’s what we want each program to do for each student that attends. We want them to leave there so ready, so prepared for future endeavors and hopefully those future endeavors are great jobs.”