Foundation grant helps Eden Technical Career Center train students for jobs of the future

August 6, 2019 | Uncategorized | Alabama Power Foundation

Original post by Donna Cope on Alabama NewsCenter

A grant from the Alabama Power Foundation will go a long way toward educating information technology (IT) students at John Pope Eden Technical Career Center, said Principal Trisha Turner.

Last spring, the Foundation awarded the technical career center in Ashville the grant to purchase fiber optics. The center’s IT instructor, Gabe Lee, will select and buy fiber optic materials and equipment. Classes at the center – ranging from automotive to IT to mechanics, welding and more – begin Aug. 8. Thanks to the grant from the Foundation, Lee’s students will learn the basics of fiber optics installation.

IT students at John Pope Eden Career Technical Center in Ashville receive real-world training for computer jobs of the future. (Gabe Lee/John Pope Eden Career Technical Center)

“Fiber optics is a high-demand field, but the fiber optics materials are very expensive,” said Lee, who has taught at John Pope Eden Technical Career Center for five years. “The materials will be used by students interested in doing fiber-optic cabling. Fiber optics are very breakable, and it takes a lot of skill to do it.”

Lee said the grant will allow the school to provide the fiber-optic materials on which students will practice their trade. Eight students have signed up to learn about fiber optics. IT students also learn how to install Ethernet “cat” cabling, the basics of computer repair, and 3D design and modeling. Past students have gone on to help-desk jobs and computer networking positions, while others continue studies of data analytics.

“I try to keep the relationship with my students and be their support system, even after they graduate,” Lee said. “I’ve got a really good bunch of second-year students coming on.”

He works with students after school and, during the summer, provides guidance about jobs. This past school year, three of Lee’s students were selected for Innovate Birmingham, a technical training program, and will graduate Aug. 23.

Leann Ford, a career coach for the St. Clair County Schools, learned about the Alabama Power Foundation and educational grants through Brad Mooney, manager of Alabama Power’s Pell City Business Office. Ford and Mooney were members of Leadership St. Clair County and later took an Economic Development Council tour.

“We want to ensure that our students have the skills they need to get jobs of the future,” Mooney said.

Ford, who works with all 19 schools in the St. Clair County system, said she tries to emphasize the need for career readiness. Last year, St. Clair County elementary and middle-school students took part in Careers on Wheels, a career forum sponsored by Alabama Power.

“If there’s a way to get extra funding for our students, we like to find it,” said Ford, who has worked with St. Clair County schools since 1999. “I hope this helps their employability and we are able to train them so that they’re productive citizens and find employment using the skills we’ve provided them.”

Ford wrote the educational grant requested through the Alabama Power Foundation, specifying that the money would be used for STEM curriculum.

Turner, in her first year as principal, said she’s excited that John Pope Eden Technical Career Center is able to increase offerings through its IT program.

Lee is appreciative of the Alabama Power Foundation’s support. He said he had “a lot of really good teachers,” and wants to emulate that same caring and support with his students.

“My students are everything to me,” Lee said. “These kids are our future, and I need to get them to the best possible position.”


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