Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive December 2014 Show 1449 Framework for Opportunities

Framework for Opportunities

Value Added: One-on-one, hands-on learning is one of the most effective ways to teach, and the programs at Metro Career Academy do just that.

For more information visit these links:

Metro Career Academy

Metro Technology Centers


Show Details

Show 1449: Framework for Opportunities
Air Date: December 7, 2014



Rob McClendon: Well, the current national high school graduation rate is around 80 percent, but in urban areas, graduation rates can fall all the way to 50 percent. Now, the issue surrounding high school dropouts is exceedingly complex, but one of the solutions is rather simple. Joining me now is our Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: Educators have long known that one-on-one, hands-on learning is one of the most effective ways to teach people anything. And it is that approach that has helped the dropout recovery program at Metro Tech’s Career Academy become such a success story.

Courtney: Chrystal Richards hasn’t always enjoyed going to school, but here at Metro Career Academy she’s cutting out the past and growing a new life.

Chrystal Richards: Here it’s like you walk into school, your teachers know if you’re missing, and they want to know why. They really care about you and, like, really in your business, so if anything’s wrong they know, so they’re really easy to talk to.

Courtney: Horticulture instructor Jona Kay Squires says the success the program has is credited to the positive atmosphere.

Jona Kay Squires: I think one of the reasons why this program is so successful is that the kids get immediately involved in it. Plants don’t judge you. It’s something they see results very quickly. The results are very positive. And so for these students a lot of times, they haven’t had that positive feedback or that positive energy from it. And it’s something that typically, whether you give a flower arrangement or you grow a plant, you’re gonna make someone else’s day or at least it does better your day. And so I think the students immediately get a satisfaction and a positive reinforcement that they desperately need. And I think it reminds them, whether it’s a therapy or it’s just a coping mechanism or it’s just a way to say, you know, it’s OK, and we’re gonna give you some groundwork and framework for launching you into a new day or new opportunities.

Courtney: Student Drake Mason says he was introduced to the horticulture program by chance, but he stays by choice.

Drake Mason: I sat in the class and was shadowing and actually the very first day when I was just sitting in there, thought I was just gonna get a feel of the class and just watch. No, Ms. Squires said, “Here you do this.” I was like, “Wait, what?” She said, “Yeah when you come in here you work, so you gotta do this project.” I was like, “Hold on, I don’t know what the project is.” Somewhere along the lines, I got in horticulture, and I’ve been here ever since and never left.

Courtney: At Metro Career Academy, the opportunities are equal for everyone. And Squires says a student’s past never defines their future.

Squires: The students, as they come into us, I think they are looking for opportunities. They don’t want to be judged on past mistakes. And so I think it’s really important as teachers and as students that we have in class that remind them that everyday’s a new day and that the skills and the things that we’re trying to provide them is gonna create new opportunities. And so I think part of the advantage of what we offer here at Metro Career Academy and MCA is that they are assigned to an occupational program such as horticulture. And we’re saying either we’re gonna help you get college credit or we’re gonna help to at least launch you into a personal positive skill set that’s gonna help you get a job.

Courtney: And not only is Squires a positive influence as a teacher, she also plays an influential role in her student’s lives beyond the classroom.

Richards: I see her as another mom cause like even outside of school, she’s really helpful. She cares about your life and what’s going on, so she’s always there to listen. So she’s a really amazing teacher.

Courtney: And Squires says her teaching goes beyond growing plants; it emphasizes growing as a person.

Squires: It’s more about their personal growth. Where did they come from, what did they obtain and how happy are they? And what are they doing that’s positive and, you know, contributing to society? So I feel lucky and blessed at the same time because the students I’m seeing have different career opportunities. And they are finding a way to make it happen. And maybe it’s a little different path than they intended originally, but they’re still getting there. I’m extremely proud of what they’ve done.

Courtney: And Mason says it is Squires who is planting the seeds of success in her students by helping them realize giving up is no longer an option.

Drake: Don’t give up. I mean, it’s very easy to give up, but it’s harder to stay on track and keep going and continue to be the person that you need to be and do what you need to do. Like, anybody can be a high school dropout, but it’s a lot harder for you to be a high school graduate, and you get more being a high school graduate. So I’d rather be a graduate than be a dropout. That’s why I came to MCA.

Courtney: Now, that segment was shot late last spring, and we are happy to tell you that both Chrystal Richards and Drake Mason are enrolled in college this fall.

Rob: So exactly how does the MCA program work?

Courtney: Well, MCA serves students who are 15 years and older who face adverse barriers when it comes to receiving a high school diploma or career training. And one of the greatest things about MCA is not only are they offering support for these students but also to their families as well.

Rob: You know, and that is critical to education. Now, how -- if someone is seeing this, how can they get involved if they’d like to help out?

Courtney: MCA offers a mentorship program, which allows these students to connect with caring individuals, and it’s also a community support program that allows organizations and businesses to help out as well.

Rob: And not coincidentally, there was a young lady on a studio tour just a couple of weeks ago that was a product of that program, and she was absolutely beaming about how much it changed her life. Thank you so much, Courtney.

Courtney: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob: Now, in two weeks, we’ll show you how some Metro Tech students are helping their community while also learning some valuable lessons about the food we put on our plate.