In 2019, Ron Dodson, the former assistant superintendent of Hoover City Schools, contacted Homewood Schools to provide an opportunity for their students, said Delisa Brooks, career coaching specialist at Homewood High School.
This opportunity was called the Riverchase Career Connection Center, a career training center comprised of five academies: Culinary and Hospitality Arts Academy, Cyber-Innovation Academy, Fire Science Academy, the Academy of Health Sciences and the Academy of Skilled Trades. Hoover invited several area schools to send students to participate in the academies.
Since Homewood City Schools took advantage of the opportunity, several seniors have found scholarships and found jobs in and out of state through their studies at the Career Connection Center.
The Riverchase Career Connection Center, also known as the RC3 program, gives students the opportunity to explore possible future careers before they graduate from high school, instead of waiting until college, said Brooks. Through this training, students have the opportunity to enter the labor market directly or to continue their vocational training at college.
“Let’s say they want to be in cooking and hospitality, it gives them the chance to explore it while they’re in high school. Maybe they decide “this is not the road I want to take”. They won’t have to wait until they get to college to choose this as their major and then see that it’s not the right path for me,” Brooks said.
The Academy of Culinary and Hospitality Arts teaches students about food safety and allergies, recipes, event planning, knife skills, and the basics of baking and pastry arts.
The cyber innovation academy teaches programming languages, knowledge and skills network, systems administration, computer operating systems and software development.
In partnership with the Hoover Fire Department, the Fire Science Academy teaches students career and technical skills to become a firefighter or emergency medical technician in Alabama.
The Academy of Health Sciences provides students with medical knowledge of multiple health professions through simulation labs, hands-on activities, guest speakers, job shadowing, leadership opportunities, and community service opportunities.
“Two of our seniors, one of whom graduated last year, she got into a very competitive school and was pre-admitted into their pre-nursing program,” Brooks said. “The same goes for our students who attend Auburn in the fall. She was automatically admitted into their pre-nursing program following her attendance at the academy of health sciences.
Skilled trades academy students teach students skills related to HVAC, electrical, welding and carpentry, such as the use of hand tools and safety equipment, safety in the work, materials and hardware, types of millwork, and assembly and installation of components.
Homewood High School had two graduates from the RC3 program this year, one from the Academy of Health Sciences and the other from the Academy of Skilled Trades.