“We wanted to spend (St. Clair County) money on the best students,” he said. “That’s what you are.”
Batemon made those comments as part of a reception to honor the seven students who completed the iCademy’s 2009-2010 pilot program. The inaugural class received certificates from their instructors and a rousing round of applause from representatives of each entity that partnered to make the iCademy a possibility.
“I didn’t think this would be such a big deal,” said Blake Bradford, one of the graduates in technology and building sciences.
The program was designed as a partnership between private industry, government and education entities, in order to train students to become part of the workforce. Students who enrolled had to maintain a certain GPA, and the demands on their time were rigorous, by all accounts. In return they received college credit for those hours they completed.
“I liked how it wasn’t a regular classroom,” said Josh Smith, one of five to complete the technology and building sciences program. Two students, Heather Crocker and Melanie Mason, received certificates in the nursing program.
JSCC representative Guin Robinson called the seven students “trailblazers.”
“Many, many, many are going to follow you,” he said. “I know you may not feel like it, but you are trailblazers.”
Robinson, a former mayor of Pell City, also commended the partners who came to the table to make the program happen.
“In my opinion, no county in Alabama is doing a better job with economic development, workforce development and education than St. Clair County,” he said. “This (program) has been a dream for a long time, at least as far back as 1989.
“These (partners) in this room today, if one of them had not been at the table, you (students) would not be at this table.”
Don Smith, executive director of the St. Clair Economic Development Council, said the program will continue to adapt to the needs of the county’s industries.
“The long-term goal is to have a program in place for all citizens of this county to benefit themselves and the county’s industry,” he said.