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Barrow makes plans to improve vocational, technical education

WINDER - The Barrow County School board is pretty proud of the district's vocational/technical education program, Superintendent Ron Saunders said. But there are always opportunities to progress.

The school board approved a plan to improve the program on Tuesday.

Barrow County receives about $88,000 per year in federal funding for the school district's vocational/ technical programs, according to Karey Russell, career/technical/agricultural education director. To qualify for those funds, they must submit an annual plan for

improvement.

This year's plan includes purchasing the most current software for students' instruction in classes like Web page design, accounting and business. The program is also working toward industry certification for the auto service technician program and the construction program, which teaches carpentry, plumbing, masonry and electrical skills. Teachers will undergo training to update their skills and learn to use the new software programs. Curriculums across the county will be revised and upgraded.

The Barrow County School System has a vigorous vocational/technical education program that doesn't separate college-bound students from skilled trade classes.

"We encourage students to seek a dual diploma, so they are balanced between college courses and technical courses," Russell said. "For example, if a student wants to be a doctor, he should take our health care science courses."

Training begins in elementary school, when students explore various careers. When those students reach middle school, they begin making connections to the careers that interest them and for which they have aptitude. High school students can learn about their chosen career paths through job shadowing and work-based programs. Barrow County's high schools are partnered with Lanier Technical College, allowing students to enroll in Lanier Tech's courses while completing their high school diploma. Many students graduate high school and complete technical certification at the same time, giving them the skills, experience and education to begin working.