In 2019, Ron Dodson, the former assistant superintendent of Hoover City Schools, reached out to Homewood Schools to extend an opportunity to their students, said Delisa Brooks, career coach specialist at Homewood High School.
This opportunity was called the Riverchase Career Connection Center, a career-training facility that consists of five academies: the culinary arts and hospitality academy, cyber innovation academy, fire science academy, health sciences academy and skilled trades academy. Hoover invited several area schools to send students to participate in the academies.
Since Homewood City Schools took advantage of the opportunity, they have had several seniors find scholarships and find jobs in and out of the state through their studies at the Career Connection Center.
The Riverchase Career Connection Center, also known as the RC3 program, provides students the chance to explore possible future careers before graduating high school, instead of waiting until college, Brooks said. With that training, students have a path to go straight to the workforce or further their career education in college.
“Let’s say they want to be in culinary and hospitality, it gives them that chance to explore it while they’re in high school. Maybe they decide ‘this is not the route I want to go.’ They won’t have to wait until they get to college and then choose that as a major and then see that this is not the pathway that is best for me,” Brooks said.
The culinary arts and hospitality academy teaches students about food safety and allergies, recipes, event planning, knife skills and the foundations 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 employable and technical skills to become an Alabama firefighter or emergency medical technician.
The health sciences academy provides students with medical knowledge about 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 them graduated last year, she was admitted to a very competitive school and was pre-admitted into their pre-nursing program,” Brooks said. “The same for our students who are attending Auburn in the fall. She was automatically admitted into their pre-nursing program as a result of her participating in the health science academy.”
Students in the skilled trades academy teach students skills related to HVAC, electrical, welding and carpentry, such as the use of hand tools and safety equipment, job safety, materials and hardware, types of joinery and component assembly and installation.
Homewood High School had two seniors graduate from the RC3 program this year, one from the health sciences academy and the other from the skilled trades academy.