Student finds her spark: Career academy drives pupil to her passion

A very shy Shakarah Nelson wanted to attend the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math school, but it was too far from home. Instead, she enrolled in Whites Creek High School in Whites Creek, Tenn.

“I really did not want to go there,” she said.

The school, part of the Academies of Nashville, has a distinct program. Rather than choosing random electives to accompany customary courses, students after their freshman year choose career-specific programs. With guidance from  Ford Next Generation Learning and partnerships with companies including UPS Inc., Piedmont Natural Gas and Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, Whites Creek offers four career academies: Education and Law; Community Health; and Alternative Energy, Sustainability, and Logistics along with corresponding Community Health, Entrepreneurship, Law, Teaching as a Profession K-12 and Automotive Technology.

Because Nelson wanted to be an engineer, she chose the automotive path. One course, though, wasn’t what she expected.

“I got my schedule and saw Alternative Energy Production, and I was like, ‘I don’t want that.’”

The class was small with only six other students, none of whom knew what the course was about and none of whom wanted to stay. But the teacher, Dr. Garry Gibson, was persuasive.

Read the full story here.