Dothan City School Improvement Plan: Part I

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As Dothan city school officials prepare to draft a strategic plan for excellence, they are looking at other school systems.

It's not the typical kind of work you find in a classroom setting, but at East Ridge High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, this is the kind of work students enrolled in the construction academy get a chance to do.

The goal of teaching students these real life job skills is to help prepare them for college or for the real world.

Hunter Borden: "I plan on going into electrical engineering; that's what I want to do, so this is helping me figure out a lot what I want to do in college."

Roy Stewart: "I really don't have that much money to go to college, and my grades aren't that great to get me a scholarship, so I plan on going to a trade school and this will help me learn the basics."

Career academies like these were part of a school system reformation that occurred in Chattanooga several years ago.

School officials realized they needed to better prepare students for college or to find a job after graduation.

And school officials here in Dothan are trying to do the same thing.

Dan Challener: "We realized we didn't have the workforce for the jobs that were being made for any community and especially in Chatanooga."

Several schools in Hamilton County, Tennessee, like Red Bank High School also have ninth grade academies, which school officials say helped them lessen the number of students failing the ninth grade by almost 13 percent in the last three years.

But could these programs work in Dothan? School officials say yes.

Ron Snell: "A real integration between career academies and the academic school is vital to our success; we've got to bring these two worlds together."