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Everything we do at Mount Airy City Schools is directed to move all students to graduation, ready for their future careers. Many of them will attend a two- or four-year college leading to these careers, but several will go to work right after high school. The NextGen program along with our NASCAR/RCR partnership work closely with our Career and Technical Education (CTE) program to boast of more than 150 students each year involved in shadowing, internships, and paid job experiences that help students decide what their future holds. Our K-12 framework outlines how students begin job-ready skills and communication in kindergarten and grow throughout their academic career.

We will be graduating students soon who are fluent in at least two languages. Nearly 25% of our classes have been involved in our dual language immersion program. This program has provided students the opportunity to learn everything in Spanish and English beginning in kindergarten. All K-5 students are enrolled in Spanish where they learn language, history, and culture. All employers need bi-lingual workers to ensure success today.

Our Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) framework makes sure that all students problem-solve each year. Employers often share examples of how applicants struggle with problem-solving skills. Mount Airy City Schools is equipping our students with this needed skill. The Leader in Me Program along with our leadership programs at middle and high school show students how to set their own goals, work hard to achieve those goals, communicate well, and dedicate themselves to self-improvement. Our academic excellence in core instruction is among the top in the state. All of these pieces of the Mount Airy City Schools framework lead to graduates ready and willing to be productive in the workforce in Surry County.

The Career and Technical Education program outlines opportunities for students from middle school through high school. We have career pathways that allow students to explore early and meet our industry leaders in Surry County. In the Career Cafe at Mount Airy Middle School, Kasey Martin brings in various industries throughout our community to have a “lunch and learn” with the students who might be interested in that industry.

At Mount Airy High School, we have the Bear C.A.V.E. (Counseling, Advising, and Vocational Exploration) where students meet with career development coordinators and college advisors. We also host a variety of programs including guest speakers and the Career and College Conversations program in the media center during lunches twice a month.

Some of the pathways we offer are health sciences, bio-technology, family and consumer science, marketing/entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, public service (fire, rescue and police) and trade and industrial. We have classes such as Pharmacy Tech and Nursing Fundamentals as well as courses focusing on drafting, woodworking, entrepreneurship, and drones. We also offer honors level courses, Advanced Placement courses, and courses for college credit. Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) develop leadership skills as many of our students have received both national and international recognition. These CTE pathways are among the top in the state scoring in the top 10 percent on assessments in CTE.

Our CTE pathways have allowed 112 students to obtain a minimum of 12 hours of college credit or an AAS degree. The three-year data trend for Mount Airy City Schools students to achieve credentials is 383 earned credentials. This number of credentials for work-force readiness is amazing. These credentials allow students to earn certifications and job skills in areas such as graphic design, woodworking, AutoCad, nurse aide, and culinary. The number of students who have completed at least 100 hours of work experience through internships or other work-based learning activities is 128 students.

Our number of official business partners is 37. Businesses such as Shenandoah Furniture, Northern Regional Hospital, Johnson Granite, Surry Animal Medical Services, Carport Central, Choice Physical Therapy, Mount Airy Country Club, and Interlam Design, LLC have allowed students to intern or shadow. Internships now offer an honors tract, allowing students to gain 135 hours in a business, build a resume, and learn valuable employability skills. Courses like Career Management are also offered, in addition to XELLO, a digital platform that allows students to complete assessments, identify employment interests, and explore career options.

Our programs are award-winning with HOSA (Future Health Professionals) being one of the top chapters in North Carolina. This program’s history of excellence created a demand for a second health educator at MAHS and the expansion of the program to middle school. Both levels are experiencing success in the many levels of competition. In the 2019 regional competition, we had eight members place first place, four second place, one in third place for various events with over 600 competitors.

In 2020, virtual state competition, Mount Airy High School had 11 students place first, second or third place with over 1,800 in attendance. In the national competition of 2020, students earned one first place, one second place, and five top ten finalists among approximately 25,000 competitors. 2020-2021 NC HOSA Piedmont Region has five officer positions and all but one were students attending Mount Airy High School. There are currently 58 9th-12th graders participating in HOSA, despite the pandemic. HOSA coordinator Lynn Snow received the Honorary Lifetime Member award and is over competitive events for the state. These experiences contribute to our overall student success and align with the high demand for jobs in the healthcare sector.

We know that our workforce readiness is widely recognized as among the top in the region by the measures the state puts out each year. Our Workkeys Data for our most recent year boasts top in the region with 79.6% of our students receiving a silver certificate or higher, earning the National Career Readiness Certificate verifying foundational workplace skills. We are also top in SAT among the districts in our area with 1129 as an average score exceeding the state’s average of 1089. The ACT composite is 19.7 over the state’s average of 18.4. This year, so far, the college advisor has met with 84% of seniors 1-on-1, who have submitted 57+ applications to trade, 2-year, or 4-year colleges, despite the pandemic and remote learning. These numbers continue to rise daily. Total Financial Aid Assisted (FAFSA + Alternative Financial Aid) for MAHS in 2020 is 88%, compared to the state average of 39.55%.

Our students understand what a great advantage they have compared to others when they go to college. Here are a few quotes from our graduates:

– Chase Pruett: “The RCR internship was an excellent opportunity for me to explore more career paths in my field.”

– Daniel Troutman: “RCR provided many opportunities to explore many job fields and this helped me get the job I have today and helped me with what I wanted to study in college.”

– Drew Tilley: “RCR was an awesome experience and provided great career insight.”

– Grant Routh: “Deciding to intern at Delp Chiropractic is one of the best decisions I have ever made. This opportunity made me truly realize the path I want to pursue and the connections I have made through this experience are immeasurable in value to me.”

– Tessa Stovall: “My time at Surrey Bank has been an incredible experience. From becoming an employee, I have gained so much confidence with the trust they put in me and have been fortunate enough to gain so much real-world experience. I can not thank Mr. Ashby and Mrs. Hensley enough for such a life-changing opportunity.”

– Reid Perry: “Interning at the Mount Airy News has been a very hands-on experience. I have had the opportunity to interview people of interest and write articles about them too. It hasn’t at all been a situation where I am only shrugged off and given busy work, it has been very rewarding. I plan to be a communications major in college and this experience will set me apart for school and employment options.”

Mount Airy City Schools is excited that our future workforce is being developed now. Our community has embraced our students and created great partnerships with us. We know these students and all students benefit from work based experience in school. We are glad many of our families are choosing Mount Airy City Schools this year and our future is bright with such outstanding students, well equipped to be a strong workforce for Surry County.