June 30, 2009


Northeast Adds Career Coaches

Northeast Alabama Community College has hired two Career Coaches with funding provided by a grant secured by the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development Region II, which encompasses much of the Tennessee Valley. The goal was to have these Coaches work with high school students within Region II to set career goals and to explore the possibilities for career choices. Career Coaches were hired for five community colleges, Northeast, Calhoun, Drake, Snead, and Wallace-Hanceville. The eighteen Career Coaches from these colleges came together to form a team with common reporting forms, common curriculum, and a common goal to learn as much about the business and industries in their assigned areas as possible.

Northeast’s two Career Coaches are Whitney Manning from Woodville and Debby Wooten from Rainsville. They serve DeKalb County, Jackson County, Fort Payne City, and Scottsboro City. To date, Manning and Wooten have made career presentations to a total of 2,285 students. Debby Wooten said, “We have made many contacts with local businesses and industries including a visit to RTI and the Gas House. We are constantly learning about career opportunities for the students in our area.” Whitney Manning added, “Our work with the Jackson and DeKalb Economic Development Agencies and the Greater Jackson County Chamber of Commerce have helped to inform us of the future opportunities offered by TVA, BRAC, and the VW plant to be located in Chattanooga.” Wooten went on to say, “We have administered over 1000 career surveys to try to help students start working on a career pathway.”

Dean Tonie Niblett, who supervises the Career Coaches, stated, “It is incredible that our coaches have made such a showing in the short time they have been on board. They have been overwhelmingly welcomed by local counselors and principals. The Career Coaches do not perform the regular counseling duties of the local school counselor. They are not credentialed counselors. They function within the framework of the local school counselor’s career plan. They present material about the Department of Labor’s 16 Career Clusters and the different pathways or careers within each Cluster. They conduct presentations and activities that help the students have a working knowledge of what is available to them. The counselors have used the Career Coaches to enhance the school’s plan.”

Hazel Haynes, Counselor at the DeKalb County Technology Center, stated, “The Career Coaches are an additional reinforcement to assure that all students in every school have the opportunities to explore various careers. They are a great asset.” Paul Kennamer, Principal at Hollywood, said, “In our world of education, we face an uphill battle with many at-risk students, the career coaches will help us head them in the direction of thinking of the future. I feel that the Coaches will be very important at the middle school level.”

The eighteen Coaches attended a two-day orientation and training session at Calhoun Community College to provide information and on careers and resources that are available to them. The coaches had a follow-up session to the orientation at Snead Community College in which they set up a common website for the material they develop. In this training the coaches made presentations in which they shared material and ways of presenting each of the Career Clusters. Dean Niblett attended this session and commented, “I came away from this meeting inspired by the enthusiasm and energy of these Coaches. I am confident that this group of coaches will be able to provide the most expert advice on careers and career pathways that will be available in our area.”

NACC President Dr. David Campbell added, “We are very proud to be able to provide the service of the Career Coaches to the local schools. We feel that they will be able to help provide a seamless transition for students from high school to postsecondary education which could include training for the workforce. They will also help students connect with early entrance programs such as Dual Enrollment, the Alabama Early College Enrollment Program (ECEP) and Tech Prep. It is very encouraging that they have had such great support and help from the local counselors and principals as evidenced by the large number of students that the Coaches have connected with already. Because of this success, we have requested that we be funded for two more Career Coaches to make a total of four for this area. We have established a new Career Center on our campus which will be the home base for the Coaches. This Center will enable area students to obtain career information and do interest inventories to determine career pathways.”

For more information about the Career Coaches or Career Services at Northeast, contact Manning and Wooten at,, or Dean Niblett at