Teaching the TECC

New career center to be utilized this fall


Rachel Blake

Construction on the TECC-W career center is currently underway.

After 35 years of serving students across the district, the Dale Jackson Career Center (DJCC) is being relocated and updated, with a name change coming along, too. The Technology, Exploration and Career Center West (TECC-W) is a larger, modern facility, able to accommodate more students and provide more hands-on learning experiences. The decision to update DJCC was spurred by several changes in the needs of the district.

Dale Jackson has been around since 1985; it was the original career center in the district,” TECC-W CTE director Justin Gilbreath said. “[The] aging facilities and the change in careers and trades over the last 35 years have led to a need for more innovative things that are going on.”

The construction of TECC-W was approved as part of the 2017 bond referendum, which was approved by community members. Along with the expansion of other facilities across the district, the bond focused on expanding schools’ facilities to better serve students.

“That was one of the items there that will be built as a result of [the bond],”  Gilbreath said. “We appreciate all of those community members supporting that and allowing the district to do that.”

As a result of the expansion, current programs at DJCC, such as the health science program, will receive updated technology to bring modern experiences and hands-on education into the classroom. With added cutting-edge facilities such as a 3D anatomy table to simulate surgeries and analyze cells from the human body, students will have realistic experiences related to the medical field before ever stepping foot in a hospital.

“It will give us much more space,” senior health science student Monica Acosta said. “Our class has more than 20 students and the classroom itself isn’t that big. It doesn’t give us much space for hands-on experience. I really believe with updated technology, it’ll help students better understand the body and other topics the class teaches.”

Along with expanding current programs, the district is adding new programs, such as animal science and HVAC, to the lineup. The district is also relocating programs to a central location; for example, the agricultural education programs from all high schools will be moved to TECC-W and the culinary program will be moved from The Colony High School to the new campus.

“We’re going to have a restaurant in our building that will be open at certain times during the day,” health science teacher Martha Eitelman said. “That’s going to be a huge drawing piece for community members, which gives us an opportunity to make community connections and partnerships.”

Teachers at both TECC-W and TECC-E use their personal experiences to guide students into the workforce. The real-world experiences and wisdom from teachers combined with the new hands-on capabilities will add to the classroom experiences at the new campus.

[During] my junior year, I knew I wanted to work and learn something,” cybersecurity and networking teacher Wendy Wallace said. “I heard about cosmetology so I started [the class] and by spring semester my senior year, I was working as a licensed cosmetologist and making money. I wasn’t going to college right after I graduated, so it was great to help guide me right out of high school, [to] what I was wanting to do at the time. Later I changed careers to information technology, but during high school it was a perfect fit. Students here are able to try out things they think they may be interested in.”

The staff at TECC-W expects an increase in students taking part in career technical education (CTE) classes as a result of the upgraded facilities. With the campus sharing a parking lot with Harmon, its ease of access should be a drawing point for students.

“All of our programs are growing,” Eitelman said. “The numbers of kids who are signing up for our current programs are astronomical. It’s so much different than it was even a year ago. Current programs are growing [and] the new programs are growing even more.”