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‘Success Ready’

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Marion County Area Technology Center aims to give every student a potential pathway into the workforce

By Emily LaForme

 Christina McRay, principal at the Marion County Area Technology Center, spoke at the Marion County Economic Development Office’s First Friday Forum on Jan. 4 to update members of the community on new projects taking place at the school.

“We serve two counties and three schools, Marion County and Washington County High School and the Marion County Knight Academy,” said McRay. “We service grades eight through 12, more than 600 individual students per day, and they take about 750 seats because some of them take more than one class.”

McRay said there’s a strong male and female student population at the tech center.

“That is something we are really proud of, because if we are going to address the workforce crisis, we need equal opportunity,” said McRay, “and that is something we are going to celebrate.”

The school has 14 team members including 10 instructors that service 600 students each day. 

“We are a 14-person team with the assistance of our feeder schools,” she said. “When it comes to making things work at the ATC, we don’t operate as an island anymore, it’s a combined effort. Our team is really several hundred.”

In the past school year, 65 senior students earned some sort of technical certification. There are 10 programs at the ATC and 21 different pathways within the programs for students to take. Every program offers an industry certification or some sort of skills assessment at the end of the pathway.

“We don’t just come in and take classes and then they leave,” said McRay. “We have an outcome in mind for every student based on their pathway. What we are really, really proud of is that students can earn certification in more than one pathway.”

The tech center also hosts several days of mock interviews for students to practice and work on their resumes in the process.

“Our seniors had a portfolio they had to put together and they had to go before a panel of community members and business owners,” said Guidance Counselor Courtney Murphy. “256 juniors and seniors interviewed over four days, and I tried to make their interviews relate to their interests.”

Murphy said every student at the ATC has a working resume, and they are able to work toward getting jobs. Some of the students were even hired after participating in the mock interviews by companies who needed extra help.

“Our kids want to be there and they want to work,” said McRay. “We want to help them get their foot in the door and get those credentials starting so they can be successful. We will also have the ability to offer 70-plus dual college credit hours soon.” 

The ATC is encouraging more local businesses and industries to continue supporting the students with individual projects and events, such as the mock interviews.

“Not only do we want great students, but we want to train and raise great citizens,” said McRay. “We put a lot of focus on service to others and giving back to the community. We also do a thing called ‘live jobs,’ where people from the community bring projects for the students to work on and build, so they learn how to work with customers. This is real world experience for them.” 

For those interested in learning more about the Marion County Area Technology Center, visit: http://www.marion.kyschools.us/8/home.