Career tech teacher is producing both champions and all star employees

Tools for Teachers
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HOLLYWOOD, Ala. (WHNT) – At the Earnest Pruett Center of Technology (EPCOT) in Jackson County, one career tech teacher has demonstrated his abilities by producing back-to-back-to-back champions in national skills competitions, but, more importantly, he’s producing all-star skilled employees for the work force.

James McKenzie won WHNT’s weekly Tools for Teachers Award and $319 to spend in his shop.

Attitudes toward vocational training have evolved a lot in recent years, but misconceptions still linger.  For instance, the idea that a career tech education is only for students who don’t plan on attending college is still prevalent.  McKenzie says that’s simply not true.

“A very high percentage of my students that graduate go on to get a two-year degree, minimum,” McKenzie told us.

He says a hands-on knowledge of a skilled trade is especially important for engineers, and that his students who eventually go into an engineering field have a head start against their peers with only a classroom education.

Whether they go on to practice a trade or get a higher-level degree, McKenzie’s students have a head start on a successful career, because their teacher believes passionately he’s doing very important work and cares deeply about their futures.

“The one thing I’ve learned,” McKenzie said, “is the students don’t care what I know until they know that I care.”

If you know a worthy teacher, coach, principal, or aide, tell us about them through the Tools for Teachers nomination form.