A Look Inside the Jackson Area Career Center
Growing up and approaching college can be intimidating for young minds. What if college isn’t right for them? What if it is, but they want to practice in their field before putting thousands of dollars towards a degree? The Jackson Area Career Center offers those possibilities to high school students, along with so much more.
The Jackson Area Career Center (JACC) isn’t just a building on the outskirts of town where students slip away to for class, it is an extension of high school. The JACC is a career and technical education school (CTE), where students can enjoy hands-on learning while acquiring college credit and real-life experience. February is CTE Month, which means that the JACC will be hosting an open house on March 1, 2023, to see what career paths may be awaiting students in Jackson County. If they find one they’re interested in, they have the chance to enroll that day, with the help of their school counselor. This will be the only time the Career Center is open to the public. High school sophomores and juniors can familiarize themselves with the many programs the JACC has to offer. Those programs include:
Automotive Collision Repair
Automotive Technology Services
Careers in Education
Computer Information Technology
Sales and Marketing
The JACC adapts to school schedules, replacing some typical electives. All local high schools offer transportation to students who cannot drive themselves. They are accepting students in public schools, private schools, and even homeschooled students.
Each program has various focuses and options within each category. As each program is different, not all programs run the same. For example, the health technician program is a two-year program. In the first year, students learn foundational terminology used in the medical field and receive CPR, first aid, and proper PPE training. During their second year, they get to focus more on what part of their field interests them most. Recently, Health Technician students were interested in fields like labor and delivery or orthopedics. From there, they are able to hear from guest speakers in those fields and practice a bit of what they may be learning with hands-on, real-life experience, often from local businesses and organizations. In the past, the JACC has partnered with Henry Ford Health to pass on the proper resources and contacts to students. This can be enlightening, to seniors especially, because it helps them get a taste of what they want to be. Principal Dan Draper stressed that “It’s important to figure it out as you go,” as so many students are pressured to pursue a college degree, though oftentimes, students aren’t fully aware of what they’re committing to before they start college.
In the past, high schools have been known to have a college push, and the JACC strives to provide proper exploration for students. A term they use often is “Try before you buy,” because these programs can literally save students thousands.
Students in the Agriscience program learn to birth pigs, raise them, and show and sell them at the county fair. Cosmetology students can get licensed through the program that the JACC offers, and have plenty of practice, as Dan Draper pointed to his own head, sharing that a student that day had given him a haircut.
Each class can hold up to 24 students, and they receive industry experience from classically trained professionals in their field. From there, each student is helped with building a talent portfolio that they can take with them as they move on to college classes or job interviews. Though the JACC is a CTE school, it is not just for kids who don’t see college in their future. There are programs in cybersecurity, manufacturing, health, and more that offer a “13th grade,” in which students are able to graduate with an Associate degree.
The JACC takes new enrollments through March. If you don’t know a potential Career Center student, consider visiting their greenhouse for the Agriscience/FFA Plant and Flower Sale on May 6 and May 13, where you can pick up fresh flowers and more. Kaci Babineau, Marketing and Special Projects Coordinator, explained that the lines have been impressive in past years, so come early! Another upcoming event that the JACC celebrates is Signing Day, which celebrates the students who have a plan for when they leave the Career Center, whether that’s continuing to pursue a degree or those who are entering the workforce.
If you know a student who may be interested in kickstarting their career in a CTE setting, consider the Jackson Area Career Center. Students will be able to surround themselves with others on similar paths, ready to learn about what their future can hold. Call the Career Center today at 517-768-5100.