MCDUFFIE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Georgia Department of Education recognizes February as Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Month and celebrates the value of C-T-A-E programs across the nation.

The CTAE program here at Thomson High School offers students more than 20 pathways that operate like a college major.

“The CTAE program is comprised of what we used to call vocational teachers…programs that are career-related that students get to choose,” said Rodney Reeves, Work-Based Learning Coordinator at Thomson High School.

Students are directly prepared for competitive professions in business, architecture, health care and more. 

After completing three courses in one pathway, students can apply for an apprenticeship in the Work-Based Learning Program.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to get that on the job experience, learn those soft skills that are invaluable going forward,” said Reeves. “More and more employers are wanting to hire high school kids. It’s an investment in the future of our community. You know, to give them that work experience early.”

Agriculture teacher Rick Dubose helps prepare nearly 150 students each year.

“It’s rewarding for me to come here and work because I get to watch students learn,” said Rick Dubose, agriculture teacher at Thomson High. “They get opportunities that they may have never, ever gotten before.” 

With this week also being Future Farmers of America Week, Mr. Dubose’s students are learning how to operate a zero-turn lawn mower. 

“It’s a really fun program to be in, especially having Debose – he’s a very fun teacher,” said Levi Doss, a Thomson High student in the CTAE program. “He gets us really hands on with everything out here. There’s never a dull moment in this classroom- he makes sure of that.” 

CTAE teachers tell me that, not only are many of their graduates successful in their fields, but many also re-invest into the McDuffie community.

“…we have a local dairy farm that a lot of kids are still working at today, even after graduating,” said Dubose. “We have two big nurseries here in our county- McCorkle Nursery and Dudley Nursery- and I have former students that work at both of those. And I have some students that work in the landscape industry as well.”  

Thomson High School offers the most CTAE pathways in the CSRA. For more information on their class offerings, visit Thomson High School CTAE Pathways.