Are your children getting ready for college? What if they would prefer to be a certified welder or work in cosmology or building construction? If they would, the Waxahachie Independent School District is the place for them to be. Amber Huckabee, WISD School to Work Coordinator, explained the system’s Project First Step program to lead students into those and many other careers that may not require a college education.

WISD provides Project First Step education in these fourteen broad areas: agriculture, food and natural resources; manufacturing; information and technology; STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics); architecture and construction; law, public safety, corrections and security; human services; business, management and administration; arts, A/V technology and communications; transportation, distribution and logistics; education and training; health science; Finance and Hospitality and Tourism.

Beginning in the ninth grade in Project First Step, each student is enrolled in a sequence of technical career courses designed to lead him or her into a chosen career. This leads to an interview with the company he or she may want to work for in the junior year. The company sets career related goals for the student to pursue during the summer and senior year. When the student graduates he or she goes to work for that company which then continues specialized, company paid training. The student will get a viable career without going to college. The company gets a strong, loyal employee. Waxahachie gets to keep one of its own as a successful, participating citizen. Everyone wins.

The Project First Step challenges bell to bell, hands on training and education instead of just classroom courses. They are in school half a day and at the company the other half. In working with the hiring company the student knows that everything he is learning is important to the work he or she will be performing after graduation. As an example the manufacturing area recently bought a new welding machine because the company the student will work for uses that type of welder in its processes.

Many of the programs result in state certifications or licenses. They also may include dual credit courses with Navarro College or Texas State Technical College. Thirteen of their teachers are certified to teach college courses.

This is not just training that might help you get a job when you graduate. It is individually designed to pair students with the company that will hire them. They will have worked half days there after their junior year so both the students and company are ready.

So if you or your children are more interested in a career in technology instead of college and appreciate hands-on training they should contact Amber Huckabee at 972-923-4614 or ajiclabee@wisd.org. She can provide all of the detailed information you need to enter this special program.