Preston Corum 1st CDC student to ever compete in SkillsUSA


Preston Corum placed third in SkillsUSA district competition in 10-inch miter saw, qualifying him to attend state competition. He is the first CDC student ever to compete in SkillsUSA. (Photo courtesy Mike Burkett/CATA)

CULLMAN COUNTY – Cullman Area Technology Academy (CATA) Building Construction Tech teacher Mike Burkett has been doing a lot of bragging recently about his students, and with good reason.  Three recently won a state level SkillsUSA competition and are headed to nationals, while three others placed second in another category. See (

He’s proud of all of his students, but there’s one he had to single out: Preston Corum, who placed high enough in district SkillsUSA competition to qualify for state.  He didn’t place at the state competition, but he’s still a big winner for himself and his schools (all three of them!).

In addition to being a Construction Tech student at CATA, Corum is also a student at the Cullman County Child Development Center (CDC), the county’s school for special needs students.  And because of the progress he has made, his teacher informed us, he will soon transition out of the CDC and will graduate next year from Good Hope High School.

Burkett told The Tribune that Corum “does a wonderful job despite all of the challenges in his life.  Anyway, he placed third last month at the SkillsUSA district competitions in the Job Demonstration category–he did the 10-inch miter saw–which qualified him for State, and while he did not make the top three last week, he had a great attitude and represented the CDC and CATA very well.  We are all very proud of him. And if I am not mistaken, he is the first student at the Cullman County CDC to not only compete, but place in a SkillsUSA event. Preston is just a joy and an inspiration to us all and I am very proud to be one of his teachers.”

CDC Principal Chris Chambers said of Corum: “He is what you’re looking for in a young man that has matured to the point where he is self-monitoring himself, where he’s going to be a productive employee for somebody one day.  We’re always trying to place our kids, and talk to local businesses about our students, and realize that there is an untapped workforce out there. And he is one of those kids that is very employable and will be a good employee, if given the opportunity.  

“And he’s one that right now, if I had a business in industry, that I would hire him right now.  A lot of kids have to go through that maturation process, and he’s one that’s been through it. And, if given the right opportunity, I think he could be an asset to somebody here locally.  You know, he’s not going to be one of those kids that probably moves off one day. He’s one of those that follows through with things. He’s very conscientious, he’s very humble, he wants to be a team player, and that’s a lot of characteristics you’re looking for in somebody to be an asset to a business.”

Chambers then added, “I can’t say enough about CATA, CATA and (Principal) Billy Troutman–from a principal to another principal: the programs, Mr. Burkett, and all them at CATA.  Mr. Troutman, the director over there, has been phenomenal, awesome to our kids. And he looks for opportunities.

“And then that follows suit, too, with our board and also our superintendent.  They’re looking for opportunities for our kids at the CDC to go out and be part of the community.  And we find a diamond in the rough every once in a while, with a Preston Corum. But he wouldn’t be able to do what he’s doing, or you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation, if we didn’t have people like Billy Troutman and then our board, and then Mr. (Shane) Barnette to have that vision for our kids.  I couldn’t do what I do without them. It’s very much appreciated.”

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