At the Greene Technology Center in Greeneville, students have over a dozen different career and technical education (CTE) programs to choose from. Among the broad range of options are automotive repair, cosmetology, criminal justice, health science, early childhood education, and welding. The center serves high school students from both the Greeneville City and Greene County School Systems as well as adult learners.
Brad Gentry, one of SCORE’s 2015-16 Tennessee Educator Fellows, is a teacher in the Greene Technology Center’s programs in pre-engineering, green technology, and robotics. The pre-engineering program, which has been around for seven years, offers students a three-course program of study in the basics of engineering using curricula from Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a national nonprofit focused on STEM education. Students in the program take Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering, where they engage in a variety of design projects. A 3D printer allows students to see the parts they have designed become a reality. For their third course, students can choose to specialize in Computer Integrated Manufacturing or Digital Electronics.
The popularity of the program has grown considerably in the five years that Gentry has been involved with it. “When I started out, I had six kids,” he says. “The past two years, I’ve had 20 kids.”
The green technology program, now in its fourth year, gives students an introduction to sustainability and alternative energy technologies, including solar panels, wind turbines, and hydrogen fuel cells. This year, the center added a new program in robotics. A highlight of the program is a project in which students build self-driving cars.
The Greene Technology Center is currently working to establish partnerships with employers for each of its programs. “The businesses we’ve talked to have been very receptive about partnering with us,” Gentry says. “They need to replace employees who are retiring, and they are having trouble finding people. … The goal is to have internships and job shadowing with these businesses.” Establishing these partnerships is the focus of the leadership project Gentry is pursuing as part of his Tennessee Educator Fellowship.
Since 2013, the Greene Technology Center has been a satellite campus of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) in Morristown. High school students and adult learners can take TCAT courses in machine tool technology, welding, and cosmetology.
After the students in Gentry’s courses graduate, he calls them to find out what they are up to. “Some of my students pursue an engineering degree; some of them do design,” he says.
The Greene Technology Center’s website, www.greenetechnologycenter.com, features a video in which former students talk about how the center helped launch them into their careers. As Jerry Ayers, principal of the Greene Technology Center, says in the video, “we are not your grandparents’ vocational school anymore.”
(Thanks to Brad Gentry for his contribution to this blog post.)
This is the third in a series of SCORE Sheet blogs about school-business partnerships in Tennessee that focus on helping students develop skills for postsecondary education and the workforce.