Partner Success Story: Career Readiness in All Grades at Coffee County Schools

5 min read

Six years ago, Coffee County Schools partnered with MajorClarity with one big goal: to create a College and Career Readiness process that connects course enrollment, student interest, and career exploration for all students.

Richard Skipper, Director of CTE for Coffee County Schools, oversees 26 Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers in a district serving roughly 4,500 students in middle Tennessee.

His role and industry background gave him the perspective to diagnose a growing need to provide students, counselors, and CTE teachers with a single system where students could identify their unique interests, explore multiple career paths, and plan for the future—whether that meant attending a trade school, partnering with the local workforce, or going to college after graduation.

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Career Readiness in all Grades

Coffee County initially began using MajorClarity in their middle schools, implementing the platform through a 3-layer process:

  1. Each middle school student participates in a career exploration track for 9-weeks

  2. Each middle school student uses this career exploration to create a 4-year high school plan that is cross-referenced against course enrollments to align core requirements and student interests

  3. Teachers and students use MajorClarity within their programs of study for ongoing exploration, encouraging students to adapt their plans as they participate in work-based learning and refine their career interests.

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“MajorClarity is taking care of a deficiency I knew we had in our system. We’re a relatively large district, and it’s been very cost-effective.”
– Richard Skipper, Director of CTE

 

Selecting a Career Exploration Platform & Ensuring Ongoing Success

When searching for a career exploration platform, Richard Skipper wanted efficiency. He looked for a platform that could provide career and college readiness all-in-one-place for schools, students, and parents. Most importantly, he wanted a solution that could follow students through all grade levels—from exploration to making college and career plans—while offering personalized guidance. 

Partnering with MajorClarity helped Richard meet these goals while also providing a time-savings in communication bottlenecks and technical support.

Headshots - Blog Quotes“We’ve been using MajorClarity for 6 years, and [we're] staying with it because of the consistency, efficiency, and friendliness.”
– Richard Skipper, Director of CTE

 

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Funding Career Exploration in Tennessee

In an effort to boost CTE in the state, the Tennessee Department of Education launched a plan that outlines several career and technical education strategies, state support, and Perkins V federal funding.

The “Strengthening Career and Technical Education in Tennessee” plan encourages educators to think about CTE on a larger scale for next-generation students and new monies under the Innovative Schools Models (ISM) Grants put funding behind it.

Headshots - Blog Quotes“Equipment is something that Career & Technical Education will look at using their dollars for because our career trades are expensive to run, but that doesn’t devalue where you need to set aside money (funding) to help students figure out how to get there.”
– Richard Skipper, Director of CTE

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👉 FREE RESOURCE: 6-8th Grade Career Readiness Pacing Guide, aligned to the new Tennessee Career Readiness Course Standards

Using the platform, Coffee County students are able to complete interactive test-drives to explore high-demand careers they might otherwise not have access to such as welding, machinery, or other manufacturing.

Headshots - Blog Quotes“We’re at a time in our state that there’s not an industry or a business that doesn’t need people. The opportunities are so abundant.” 
– Richard Skipper, Director of CTE

 

Successes, Impact, and Future Goals

Coffee County is intentional about ensuring alignment between students and courses when entering high school: during the first year, students aren’t committed to one specific career program, allowing them to adapt as they explore their career interests before defining their pathway. 

Because Coffee County created this process of alignment and encouraged students to build ownership in their scheduling, they’ve eliminated hundreds of course change requests.

 

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Students using MajorClarity in Coffee County explore more than careers – they also explore the certification pathways, colleges, and other career requirements they’ll need to get there. 

At Coffee County, Richard is passionate about ensuring students are planning backwards from their career goals. They are adamant that not every student needs a college degree to find their ideal career fit and proactively spotlight a range of career trades available in the labor market.

 

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Headshots - Blog Quotes“Being the career platform and being the avenue…it (MajorClarity) has dynamically multiplied the career counseling portion for a student”
– Richard Skipper, Director of CTE

 

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