CATA students map the way to ‘Career Island’


Carter Robinson, Peyton Oden and Jacob Ryder delivered the treasure map to the Cullman dental office of State Sen. Paul Bussman (second from left) Tuesday. / Photo courtesy Carter Robinson


CULLMAN – Last week, three students from the county school system’s Cullman Area Technology Academy (CATA) displayed an art project at Cullman City Hall intended to get middle school students thinking about developing career skills. Peyton Oden (Fairview High School), Carter Robertson (Fairview High School) and Jacob Ryder (Good Hope High School) are all 11th graders who attend career tech classes at CATA. Their “treasure map,” titled “Career Island: Find Your Personal Skills Treasure,” is a community service project for SkillsUSA, and will be entered in competition later this month.

CATA Building Construction Tech Teacher Mike Burkett described the project:

“This artwork was created by three students in the Building Construction Program at the Cullman Area Technology Academy as an educational tool that is part of a Community Service project for SkillsUSA, a leadership development organization for Career Technical Education students.  The work emphasizes the importance of Personal Skills as a part of an overall employment framework that also includes Workplace and Technical Skills. Their premise is that without adequate Personal Skills on day one of a new career, the other two just aren’t as essential to local employers.     

“The Personal Skills shown on the artwork carry a priority designation by SkillsUSA within their Workplace Framework.  While there are many other important characteristics in personal skill development, these are deemed more crucial to a new hire on the first day of his/her job.  

“The students who created this artwork used a treasure map theme because it has a broad appeal with virtually everyone, but also appeals directly to their target audience, which are children in the intermediate or middle school grades.  Studies show that personal skill development has the greatest impact on students in the middle school ages, and they carry that on into high school.”

On Tuesday, the poster was moved from Cullman City Hall to the dental office of State Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman, where the students got to meet the senator.  Afterward, it will go to the North Alabama Agriplex, Fairview Middle School and Harmony School, before traveling to Birmingham for the SkillsUSA State Conference on April 23-24.  There it will be entered in a promotional bulletin board contest.

Burkett said of the students, “Jacob Ryder said, ‘It was interesting to meet city and state leaders while doing this project.’ Payton Oden said that he learned how important personal skills were to potential employers because he thought they only wanted people with technical skills.  Carter Robertson said that he liked doing the art work and he now knows where city hall is located.”

Shared Burkett,“This was a unique opportunity for our CATA students to engage with their community and fellow students while also learning what employers want, especially with regards to personal character.”

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