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BTC changes lives through tech skills

Photos by Kaitlin Mullins Students in the automechanics program at the Brookhaven Technical Center learn practical information for everyday life and gain skills useful for further training and education in automechanics. The instructor, Theron Edwards, now oversees the program he found success in when he attended BTC.

Photos by Kaitlin Mullins
Students in the automechanics program at the Brookhaven Technical Center learn practical information for everyday life and gain skills useful for further training and education in automechanics. The instructor, Theron Edwards, now oversees the program he found success in when he attended BTC.

“One thing that really got me, one student in my fourth block. He said ‘Mr. Edwards I was just gonna graduate and go home. But now since I took this program, I wanna go to Co-Lin and I wanna be a technician.’”

Theron Edwards is now the instructor of the program he found success in at Brookhaven Technical Center — automechanics. A Brookhaven High School graduate, Edwards said he is proud to be the instructor of the newly reinstated program, and to help students potentially find the same success.

Culinary arts teacher Kristen Williams shows students how to make cornbread on Friday. The program is partnered with the National Restaurant Association’s Pro Start Program to give students an edge on the competition in a diverse culinary field.

Culinary arts teacher Kristen Williams shows students how to make cornbread on Friday. The program is partnered with the National Restaurant Association’s Pro Start Program to give students an edge on the competition in a diverse culinary field.

Automechanics is just one of the programs at BTC that helps prepare students for entry into college or into the workforce.

“I’m definitely glad it’s back. I’m proud to be instructing it because I’ve come through this program right here,” Edwards said. “I graduated from this program, went to Co-Lin. But this program is well-needed in the community because even if they don’t go on to be technicians […] this is always something they can use. I feel it’s very important and, as you can see, all kids are amazed by automobiles.”

Students test the strength of different materials under the eye of polymer science program instructor Leah Ann Peavey. Peavey is a degreed polymer scientist with many years of experience in chemistry education and industrial research and development.

Students test the strength of different materials under the eye of polymer science program instructor Leah Ann Peavey. Peavey is a degreed polymer scientist with many years of experience in chemistry education and industrial research and development.

The automechanics program at BTC was discontinued, but brought back this year after gauging student interest. Up-to-date equipment and good enrollment numbers already suggest this program will engage many students in years to come.

The technical center has a new energy thanks to revitalized programs, new dedicated and excited teachers and a “believe it — achieve it” atmosphere. BTC Counselor Herschel O’Bannon said enrollment numbers are about 160, up from 100 last year. O’Bannon also said he expects this number to rise.

Theron Edwards shares his knowledge and experience in the automechanic field in Brookhaven with his students.

Theron Edwards shares his knowledge and experience in the automechanic field in Brookhaven with his students.

“We hope so, with these new programs,” O’Bannon said. “I just feel really good about it. […] I feel really good about these new teachers, […] all of it.”

The polymer science program is also new this year and is taught by Leah Ann Peavey, a degreed polymer scientist with many years of experience in chemistry education and industrial research and development.

Students in the construction: carpentry concentration program at the technical center use a table saw under instructor Kevin Hux’s supervision.

Students in the construction: carpentry concentration program at the technical center use a table saw under instructor Kevin Hux’s supervision.

Polymer science prepares students for study or employment in a variety of fields, including metallurgy, polymers, plastics, ceramics, coatings and composites. Students receive hands-on training in design, processing, troubleshooting, application and testing of such material systems, from raw materials to finished product. Students operate high-tech processing equipment and design parts using CAD software and 3-D printing.

Peavey said students are often intrigued by the class and she believes exposing students to specialized areas of science expands perspectives and allows students access to materials they otherwise wouldn’t. Advanced technology such as the 3-D printing capabilities of the polymer science program and engineering program are great resources for BHS students.

“I’m just glad to be able to give back,” Edwards said. “I’ve come through this program; it’s been successful for me — this career path. I’m glad I’ve got a lot to give back to the community and give back to the students.”

That attitude is reflected in many instructors within the center who work to help local high school students achieve what they might had never dreamed of. The nine programs span many fields of study and application.

Digital media technology students develop, design and implement projects using state of the art Apple iMac computers with Adobe professional software, Final Cut Pro X software, motion software and Logic Pro X Software. The course focuses on the basic areas of photography, graphic design, multimedia design, animation design and video and music production.

Health sciences incorporates all facets of skills, services and procedures in the numerous areas of human and animal healthcare. Practical experience in a local hospital setting is an important component within the program.

Automotive technology prepares students to enter the world of work as mechanics by teaching vehicle components and the use of diagnostic equipment in auto repairs.

The construction program prepares students to learn specific areas of construction including carpentry, masonry, electrical wiring and plumbing.

Culinary arts provides in-depth theory and training in operations management, food production, knife skills, garnishing, styling and preparation, restaurant accounting, purchasing and continental cuisine. Partnering with the National Restaurant Association’s Pro Start Program allows students to be a step ahead of others in the culinary arts field.

Engineering provides students with a hands-on experience related to engineering concepts in the workplace. It introduces 3-D sketching and modeling using CAD software. It also focuses on electrical, fluid, mechanical and thermal systems, computer integrated manufacturing and concepts of programming robotic equipment.

The teacher academy is designed as a pathway for students planning careers in education and training. The teacher academy curriculum includes: teachers as professionals, principles of teaching, assessment and the learning environment. Participants also gain in-class experience.

Family dynamics is a nine weeks course that develops skills related to personal, family and social issues. It includes instruction in dimensions of adolescent development, family decisions and responsibilities, social decisions and responsibilities and management of family systems in today’s society.