They punch a clock when they arrive, and if they’re late there are consequences. Some of them earn a paycheck, with those in leadership positions earning more. They are punished for safety violations and failure to keep a clean shop.
The students who attend Bryant Career Technical Center come here for two hours a day, and those two hours are treated like they’re on the job.
“It teaches us punctuality,” health science student Patrick Sanders said of the time clock. “It’s just like a real work environment. If you come in late, what do you do? You lose money. If we clock in late, what do we lose? We lose points; we lose our grades. Our grades are our money right now.”
Visitors from the Alabama Department of Education joined business and industry leaders from around the county in touring Bryant’s facilities and programs Thursday as part of the 2017 Alabama Career and Technical Education state tour.
“We are very excited to recognize the innovation in Mobile public schools,” said Dr. Phillip Cleveland, Deputy State Superintendent of Education for Career and Technical Education/Workforce Development. “You were chosen as one of 14 in 138 school systems to be recognized for the work that you do. … You have done an excellent job of raising the bar.”
The Bryant programs visited included: aircraft mechanics, automotive technology, carpentry, computer services and information systems, cosmetology, health science, heating and air conditioning, horticulture, plumbing/pipefitting and welding. They also saw the driving range created and maintained by students in the turfgrass management program.
In Ben Taylor’s computer services class, students earn a “paycheck,” which can be used to buy credit for missed assignments, extra credit on tests or other classroom bonuses. Some students are placed in management positions and therefore, have larger “paychecks.”
That creates some competition within the classroom, Taylor noted – not unlike competition in a workplace.
In the carpentry department, visitors saw Adirondack chairs and wooden swings and benches that were built by the students – along with many of the structures in which they were made. In the plumbing department, they saw bathroom fixtures and eyewash stations installed by students. In aircraft mechanics, they saw students riveting into metal, just as they would on a fuselage.
“What they’re working on out in the shop is this project,” said aviation technology instructor Robert Watson, holding up a metal box with rivets in it. “Everything that you do on this project, they can do out there in the real world on an airplane — it’s just on a smaller scale.”
Most of the students who introduced their programs have defined career goals and their work at Bryant is helping them get a head start. Sanders said he wants to join the U.S. Air Force reserve and become a traveling nurse. Marquel Gilbert, who serves as a foreman in the welding department, is among many students who are earning dual enrollment credit and plans to continue her welding training at Bishop State Community College before transferring to the University of South Alabama to study engineering.
“Being here has taught me a lot,” Gilbert said. “I’ve been here three semesters and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”