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Susan Harrison - Classroom Profile

By Karen Mortensen- Montgomery Advertiser

Susan HarrisonAs a former math teacher, Susan Harrison under stands the importance of academic skills.

But in her current position, she also understands that high-school seniors need a plan after graduation, and that plan doesn't always include a four-year college.

Harrison is director of Career Tech Services for Montgomery Public Schools, which she said is designed to give students plenty of options after high school.

Career Tech encompasses business marketing, family and consumer sciences, health sciences, agri-science, and industrial maintenance technology (IMT) programs at local high schools.

"I view Career Tech as a conduit to get students to that next level after high school, whether it's a technical college or a university, or going to school part-time and working at night," Harrison said. "We want them to have a diploma in hand, but we also want them to know what to do next."

In some cases, Career Tech students can even get ahead of their peers. Through the IMT program at George Washington Carver and Robert E. Lee high schools, students can earn college credit at H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College if they do well in the program.

"They take two electrical-based courses their junior year and two their senior year, and if they make a 'B' or above in all of them, they move on in the program when they get to Trenholm," Harrison said. "It's a time and a money factor."

As director of Career Tech, Harrison tries to "make sure the right students" get scheduled in Career Tech classes.

One way they do this is through an online interest inventory for all secondary school students.

"They take (the inventory), and when their answers are scored, it tells them where their interests lie," Harrison said. "If they have an interest in health care, for example, we help them get in that program."

Involvement in Career Tech helps many students "get their foot in the door" and, through the program's connections, snag an entry-level position right out of high school.

"The exciting thing here is that the job market in Montgomery is wide open," Harrison said. "The students have so many options."

While her job is rewarding, Harrison said it's also stressful because she's focused on developing new opportunities for students.

"I love seeing the results of the options we provide through Career Tech, and literally impacting their future," she said.


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