Seventh- and eighth-graders from throughout the county and their parents learned about the choices available to them on the high school level in Mobile County Public Schools at the Signature Academy Showcase on Tuesday at the USA Mitchell Center.
Each of MCPSS’ 12 high schools has a Signature Academy aligned with a specific career field, and students in the county can apply to attend any of them, regardless of school zone. Students learn skills and concepts necessary to that particular field and are able to interact with professionals working in that field through the academies’ business partnerships. There are also summer internship opportunities available that allow students to get hands-on experience in their field of choice — experience that could lead to a job after graduation.
“We’ve kind of raised the bar in Mobile County Public Schools,” said Larry Mouton, MCPSS Assistant Superintendent for Workforce Development. “If you’re going to be an engineer, sure you need calculus, sure you need physics, but you also need real-life experiences. You need to work with engineers. We have engineers come into the classroom and talk with those students about that career path: How can you become an engineer? How can you be more successful in high school? And then in the summer, we have summer internship opportunities where kids can go work in the environment.”
The 12 Signature Academies are: Coastal Studies at Alma Bryant; AP Capstone at Baker; Aviation and Aerospace at B.C. Rain; Healthcare Access at Blount; Manufacturing, Industry and Technology at Citronelle; Engineering at Davidson; Law, Arts and Health Services at LeFlore; Biomedical and Sports Medicine at Mary Montgomery; International Studies at Murphy; Industry and Engineering at Theodore; Information Technology at Vigor; and Maritime, Engineering and Entrepreneurship at Williamson.
Representatives from each school and academy were on hand, along with representatives from Bryant and Faulkner Career Tech Centers, to share information about their programs with middle school students and their parents.
“We have a world-class healthcare access program that gets kids certified before they leave high school,” Blount High Principal Jerome Woods said. “They’re graduating with credentials and they’re ready to go to work or go to college. We know everybody’s not going to fit into college mode, but if you’re not just be ready to go to work.”
State Rep. Napoleon Bracy is involved with the Maritime academy at Williamson through his work at local shipbuilder Austal USA. He said the Signature Academies offer students real choice within Mobile County Public Schools.
“It’s very unique,” he said. “A lot of times people look at school choice in a different light. But this is giving students the opportunity to travel outside their actual school zones to find a school that fits their needs. Depending on what a student wants to do, they can find it in Mobile County at one of the Signature Academies.”
In order to apply for a Signature Academy, visit mcpss.com, find “I want to apply for” and click on “A Signature Academy.” The application process is open through January 31.