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Grant to put city, county high school students on path to industrial maintenance careers

Thanks to a $192,397 grant secured through a collaborative effort among the Fayetteville City School System, Lincoln County School System and Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Shelbyville, Industrial Maintenance Automation courses will be offered to local high school students here in Fayetteville beginning this fall.

The courses will open doors for students from Fayetteville High School and Lincoln County High School to pursue careers in Industrial Maintenance, a field expected to see a 13-percent increase in demand nationally over the next eight years, according to the grant application, written by Rujena Dotson, a supervisor with the Fayetteville City School System. Specifically within our area, data indicates a 19-percent increase in employment opportunity.

“Regional job postings for industrial maintenance positions are listed between $24 and $39 per hour with positions for supervisors in this area indicating salaries between $75,000 and $90,000 based upon experience,” Dotson wrote in the grant. “Because of the fact that our area is close to Huntsville, Ala., which is currently boasting a Toyota expansion, in addition to other booming industry which specifically seeks employees with credentials provided by this program, it is hands down the logical program to implement.

“In addition, repeatedly when advisory panels composed of local industry are asked for input, they reference this program,” Dotson added. “Industrial Maintenance is definitely a high skill, high wage, and high demand pathway our students will greatly benefit from having early access.”

The Perkins Reserve Grant will provide funding to pay an instructor to teach Industrial Maintenance at the TCAT satellite location at Lincoln Central, instructor training, necessary equipment and supplies and stipends for English, Math, Government and Economics instructors to be shared by both school systems. The classes would be comprised of up to 60 dual enrollment students from Fayetteville High School and Lincoln County High School.

“One of the greatest challenges for dual enrollment students is scheduling,” Dotson wrote in the grant application. “This issue arises because of the fact that seniors are also required to complete English, Math, Economics and Government in order to graduate. With this in mind, funds will also be utilized to pay an additional stipend to certified English, Math, Government, and Economics teachers who will teach courses designed as a ‘flipped classroom’ which will lend itself to flexibility and allow students to complete senior required courses and participate in TCAT Industrial Maintenance. This would allow a student to spend their entire day at the Lincoln Central TCAT site while completing all graduation requirements and increasing postsecondary attainment in a valuable career field.”

While TCAT Shelbyville’s Lincoln Central Site has opened a class for Industrial Maintenance in Fayetteville, there is currently no space for dual enrollment high school students because the class is full of adult students. Thanks to the Perkins Grant, doors will now be open for local high school students to begin taking Industrial Maintenance courses while finishing up their high school graduation requirements.

“This is a win-win for everybody,” Dotson said of the collaborative effort among the city and county schools systems and TCAT Shelbyville.

Flyers are being sent to all rising juniors detailing the TCAT Industrial Maintenance course availability. Students who are interested in the opportunity should contact their school’s college and career counselor.

If all of the 60 slots for the program are not taken up by dual enrollment students, remaining slots will be given to past graduates or to adults who are now on the waiting list.

city and county school system officials pausing for photo at TCAT Center

Thanks to a collaborative effort among the Fayetteville City School System, Lincoln County School System and TCAT Shelbyville, local high school students will be able to begin study for Industrial Maintenance careers this fall. Pictured here are (from left) John Fanning, assistant director of Lincoln County Schools; Billy Owens, principal, LCHS; Susan Welch, supervisor of Career Technical Education (CTE), Lincoln County Schools; Bill Hopkins, director of Fayetteville City Schools; Adam McCormick, principal of FHS; and Rujena Dotson, CTE supervisor, Fayetteville City Schools.