Success Story

Harnett County Schools Advanced Manufacturing, Health Sciences academies grow despite hurricane, pandemic

Harnett County Schools, in partnership with Central Carolina Community College, is the home of an Advanced Manufacturing Academy and a Health Sciences Academy. The academies were established in response to local industry workforce development needs. In April 2018, the Golden LEAF Board awarded $400,000 to Harnett County Schools to support the two academies through renovating and expanding classrooms as well as adding equipment and resources to support career awareness and help train a future workforce.

Triton High School, where the welding shop was being expanded, was damaged by a hurricane and construction was delayed significantly. Construction was complete in late December 2019, just a couple of months before COVID-19 ended face-to-face instruction in mid-March 2020. Face-to-face instruction resumed September 28, 2020 for Harnett County Schools. 

“Our main lessons from these experiences have been flexibility and perseverance,” said Justin Wilkinson, Director of Career and Technical Education, Harnett County Schools. “From a leadership standpoint, realizing that we cannot control the weather or a pandemic, but are in control of how we react and the plans we put in place to serve our students once they return. Golden LEAF funding greatly increased the number of students we were able to serve and significantly decreased our timeline on improvements. Through regular Career Technical Education funding, we could have made some of the improvements, but never to this scale and this quickly.”

The project is a result of a strategic partnership between the schools, community college, industry, and funders. To date, 293 students have participated in work-based learning experiences, 347 students have earned a third-party credentials, and 2,130 students have completed and earned course credits in Ag Mechanics I & II, Advanced Welding, Metals Manufacturing I & II, Health Team Relations, Health Sciences I & II, or Pharmacy Technician courses. Approximately 30 students employed in the Health Sciences, Manufacturing, Welding, and/or Fabrication fields who came through the Agricultural Mechanics, Metals Manufacturing, and Health Sciences courses in Harnett County Schools from the class of 2019.

Job shadowing, internships, co-ops, and apprenticeships along with related classroom instruction allow program participants to earn degrees, diplomas, and certificates while they learn a highly skilled trade. Employers gain a pipeline of loyal skilled workers, increase productivity, and improve the bottom line.

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