Workforce training program delivers life skills for Alabama high school students

Ten years ago, a unique partnership began between Southwire, a participant in the Alabama Workforce Council, and the Florence City School System. Since that time the impact this initiative has had on our students and our school system has been nothing short of phenomenal.

In 2009, Southwire saw a need in our community. Students were dropping out of school. Some were leaving school because they had no direction or guidance, while others were leaving just to get a paycheck for themselves and/or their families. To combat this negative trend, the team at Southwire approached school officials with an idea to implement a program that originated at its facility in Carroll County Georgia.

12 for Life was founded on the principle that if students completed high school and learned productive qualities such as work ethic, teamwork, and effective decision-making skills, then their opportunities for achieving success – whether entering college or going into a career placement – would be maximized.
During school, students participate in a soft-skills program, Ready-to-Work, and coursework from the Manufacturing Skills Standards Curriculum. At Southwire, students are paired with a mentor, given job coaching and work an actual four-hour-a-day job. These attributes of the program will enable the participants to gain credentials to be part of the extra 500,000+ highly-skilled workers that Alabama needs by 2025, as identified in the AlabamaWorks Success Plus initiative.

The students selected for 12 for Life must be at least 16 years old and be identified as having a need, whether that be monetarily, socially, emotionally or behaviorally. All students in the program are required to attend summer school in order to complete core classes where they can qualify for work shifts during the day.

School counselors gather data related to factors such as free/reduced lunch status, discipline, credit deficiency or declining attendance. Next, the students participate in an interview process to determine interest and four-hour shift eligibility.

Many participants also refer their friends. During any given time, as many as 200 students are placed on the waiting list for the program, which accepts 100 students per year. This creates a solid pipeline that may lead to permanent employment at the company.

While at Southwire, students earn a competitive hourly wage, along with significant monetary bonus opportunities. These reinforcement incentives are extremely effective tools for changing negative behavior patterns and conditioning students to consistently display positive actions. Bonuses can be earned for maintaining an A or a B grade-point average and for achieving perfect attendance during the nine-week grading period.

These incentives have served as catalysts for modifying negative attendance patterns and significantly elevating student performance in all areas.

Of course, the validation of any initiative’s success will always be determined by the results. The 12 for Life participant group averages a reduction of 134 days of absenteeism compared to the previous year prior to entering the program. This means that the group is present in school for 134 more days compared to when they were not in the program.

We have also achieved a tremendous increase in our graduation rate since the start of the program. In 2009, the graduation rate for the Florence City School System was 68%. In 2018, it had risen to 97%. For the seventh consecutive year, participants in 12 for Life have achieved a 100% graduation rate.

These outcomes have also garnered interest from other companies, like Elite Medical and Toyota, to launch similar programs with Florence schools.

By investing in our young people, we all reap the benefits of what they can and will do as productive members of our society. With programs such as 12 for Life, our future and that of our state, will grow and prosper for many years to come.

Dr. Corey J. Behel is the director of Partnerships and Workforce Innovation for Florence City Schools and Marcus Johnson is the Plant Manager of 12 for Life Southwire in the Florence City location.  

To learn more about this program, contact Dr. Behel at cjbehel@florencek12.org. You can also visit www.alabamaworks.com to find training and workforce development initiatives for people of all ages.

 

3 hours ago

Alabama basketball defeats Mississippi State to stay undefeated in SEC play

The Alabama Crimson Tide are now 8-0 in conference play after defeating Mississippi State 81-73 on Saturday.

With a formula of driving the lane and passing out to perimeter shooters, Alabama has made the three-point shot their go-to game plan behind shooters like John Petty and Jaden Shackelford.

For the Bulldogs, their defense was up to the task at times. However, in crucial moments of the game, Mississippi State was unable to cover Bama’s three-point specialists and ended up getting burned.

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In their victory over the Bulldogs, Bama shot over 42% from behind the line, and Petty tied with freshman guard Joshua Primo for the most threes in the game at four. Mississippi State as a team only hit four three-pointers on Saturday.

Petty spoke to Dari Nowkhah and Daymeon Fishback on the SEC Network’s “SEC Now” after the game. On how he and his teammates have had so much success from behind the arc, Petty said, “We honestly don’t shoot as many threes in practice as you would expect from what we shoot in our games.”

That is hard to believe, considering how well the Tide have done this season shooting the three. Through just 16 games, the Alabama hoops squad has hit 165 three-point shots.

Herb Jones is arguably Bama’s best all-around player. On both offense and defense, he is able to be a difference-maker for his team. Saturday, Jones was the leading scorer on his team with 17 points. He also added five rebounds and seven assists to his stat line.

Bama head coach Nate Oats has completely changed the way Alabama is playing basketball, and his players seem to not only enjoy but also flourish in his system. His system is predicated on the players having the freedom to shoot almost anytime they want as long as the ball has touched the paint, or inside, at least once on the possession.

On playing for Oats, Petty said, “It’s been great playing for coach Oats. He gives us freedom on the offensive end, as long as you’re playing hard on defense, he gives you that freedom on offense to just play.”

Petty added that he was used to the freedom of his play in high school, and he enjoys being able to play with the freedom to shoot when he wants.

For a player like Petty, shot freedom is the reason he has become a star the last two seasons.

On how many threes he would make out of 100 wide-open shots, Petty stated, “If I shot 100 wide-open threes, I would probably hit at least 85.”

He added with a laugh, “I’m pretty high level when I’m wide open.”

Alabama is playing better and better each week, even beating some of the top SEC schools handily, including Kentucky, Florida and Auburn.

The Tide are on their way up and remain at the top of the conference with the only true challenges left being teams they have already beaten.

One of those teams travels to Tuscaloosa this week, as Alabama takes on Kentucky in Coleman Coliseum for a rematch. The first time the two teams met this season, Bama defeated the Wildcats by 20 points. The game is set to take place on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. CT in another tough test for the Tide and their unblemished conference record.

Alabama’s win on Saturday moves their overall record to 13-3 on the season.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

6 hours ago

Fmr State Rep. Ed Henry: Pardon possibility looked bleak at the very end — Came at last minute from Trump at behest of Mo Brooks

Last week, former State Rep. Ed Henry was among 73 individuals to receive an end-of-term pardon from President Donald Trump, but it was not a certainty until the very end, according to Henry, who had pleaded guilty to a Medicare fraud case in 2019.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5 on Friday, Henry said the process had actually begun in September and was on track through the end of the year until the events of January 6 ensued.

However, with just hours remaining in the Trump presidency, which included lobbying from U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) and U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), Henry received word he would receive the pardon.

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“I had desired one but didn’t even know how to do the process,” he said. “A close friend of mine, businessman up here, Tom Fredericks, reached out to Congressman [Mo] Brooks at a breakfast and just said, ‘I need you to look into working on a pardon for Ed Henry. Congressman Brooks — he had known the case. He had followed it, and I had given him all kinds of information about the lunacy of what they were claiming. He agreed, and he said I had never done this before but started the process back in September and just trying to figure out how to do the pardon. Basically, you’ve just got to get enough people to push it through the White House counsel. Senator [Tommy] Tuberville got on board right after he got elected. And then, Congressman Barry Moore from down in Enterprise in the second district has known about the case from the beginning. He and I served in the House together, so he knew the entirety of it. And they started pushing.”

“We were in line to get the pardon I was told probably in December,” Henry continued. “And then, all the chaos that ensued on January 6 kind of changed the landscape, and I have a friend that works in the White House staff — I didn’t know they were still there until all of this started happening — but I was told instead of the list getting longer, which is what typically happens on the last day of the president’s term,  President Trump’s list got shorter. At 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, I got a message from Congressman Brooks that said he said he had just spoken with Donald Trump, and my name did not make the 72 people that were getting a pardon. Congressman Brooks asked President Trump to specifically look at my case and the merits of what had gone on, despite White House counsel. President Trump told him, ‘I’ll look at it, but it is probably too late. I don’t think I can make it happen at this point.'”

“We were a little bit let down,” he added. “But honestly, I felt at peace about it. It doesn’t really define me, and I was ready to move on. And at 10 o’clock, I got a call back from Congressman Brooks that said the President of the United States just called and said, ‘Call Ed Henry. Let him know he’s a good guy. And I’ve got his pardon.’ It took two hours to actually pull all of that together, and at midnight, my phone started blowing up from different people all around the country that I had received the last presidential pardon that Donald Trump gave.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

8 hours ago

Lake Eufaula lands 2021 Bassmaster Team Championship event

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The last spot in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will be filled on historic Lake Eufaula as this Alabama fishery hosts the Bassmaster Team Championship and Classic Fish-Off Dec. 8-11, 2021.

Battling for that coveted berth in the Bassmaster Classic will be the grassroots anglers competing at the Bassmaster Team Championship. The team portion of the event will be held Dec. 8-9 and will feature anglers from across the country — 32 states in 2020. The winning duo will not only win a cash prize, but they’ll also lead the charge into the Classic Fish-Off which will take place Dec. 10-11.

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The top three teams through Day 2 — six anglers in all — will have their weights zeroed and then compete individually in the Fish-Off. The competitor with the heaviest two-day total of the group will earn their spot in the Classic. 

In 2020, that honor went to Jordan Wiggins, a 29-year-old Cullman, Ala., resident whose older brother Jesse notched a third-place finish in the 2019 Classic.

“What a wonderful way to end a year,” says Ann Sparks, Tourism and Main Street Executive Director for the City of Eufaula. “We are thrilled to be hosting the Bassmaster Team Championship and showing off what Lake Eufaula has to offer! Most anglers have fished our great lake, but we are excited to show off our changes and improvements to our beautiful town.”

B.A.S.S. has visited Lake Eufaula 17 times for major events, including an Elite Series tournament last year that was broadcast live to an audience of more than 2.8 million. The town itself — with a statue declaring Eufaula as the “Big Bass Capital of the World” — is known throughout the fishing industry as the hometown of legendary angler and lure designer Tom Mann. It’s the home of Mann’s Bait Company and the Johnson Outdoors location where Humminbird electronics are produced.

In addition to the Team Championship event, Lake Eufaula will also host the Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX on May 1.

The tournaments are being hosted by the Eufaula Barbour Chamber of Commerce.

(Courtesy of B.A.S.S.)

8 hours ago

Del Marsh: Legislative priorities include gaming, broadband for remainder of Alabama Senate tenure; Expect gambling proposal next week

Earlier this year, State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) announced he was stepping down from the pro tempore post, and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) would assume the role for the 2021 legislative session.

Marsh says he gave up the pro tem position he had held since 2010 to focus on his legislative priorities centered around education.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Friday, Marsh gave listeners a preview of his efforts, including gaming and rural broadband internet access. The Calhoun County Republican revealed details of his gaming proposal would be “probably out next week.”

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“One of the first things I’m going to be coming out with, and details will probably out next week — I’ve been working for some months on a comprehensive gaming package for the state of Alabama,” he said. “And the reason I’m doing this, Jeff — one is to provide scholarships for our young people — not only to those going to four-year universities — the scholarships to post-secondary, the trade schools that we have such a desperate need for those types of skills in Alabama but I think that a lottery will provide that. On the other side, you’ve heard me talk for some time about the need for broadband and the state of Alabama coverage from part of the state to the other. Rural areas during this pandemic have been unequally served because they don’t have access. I mean, think about the kids out there that are doing virtual learning, and then those that can’t do it at all because they don’t have internet access.”

“I think that a gaming bill can provide a long-term statewide broadband program and provide scholarships for our young people and young adults, who are perhaps looking at career changes,” Marsh added. “That piece of legislation will be a constitutional amendment. It’ll be for the people to vote on. It is my intention to get it through the Senate and the House. I’ve been working closely with leadership in both houses, and I’m optimistic we can get something out. It will tail onto the gaming commission the governor just finished. My bill had already had a lot of those components in it. But we’ve taken the suggestions of the governor’s gaming commission and added them into the piece of legislation, and I look forward to getting that out and letting the people take a look at that early in the session.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

9 hours ago

Auburn basketball begins to find its stride in a 109-86 beat down of South Carolina

The Auburn Tigers have had a rough going in the beginning of SEC play, losing five of their last seven SEC games coming into Saturday’s matchup with South Carolina. However, recent wins against Kentucky and Georgia have put the Tigers on a much brighter path with endless possibilities.

One big factor for the turnaround is point guard Sharife Cooper, who had to work out eligibility issues with the NCAA early in the season.

In the game Saturday, Cooper picked up a double-double by scoring 16 points and recording 12 assists to propel Auburn to a 109-86 victory over the Gamecocks. The 6’1” point guard also managed to snag six rebounds for the Tigers.

Guard Allen Flanigan scored the most points of anyone in this contest, which has become normal for the sophomore this season. Flanigan went 4-6 from the three-point line to help get him to his team-high 24 points.

Defeating the Gamecocks was a big win for this young Tiger team, considering that even the most experienced Bruce Pearl-coached teams have had trouble facing Frank Martin’s squads.

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However, the Tigers were able to get it done in Columbia. The key to the win was getting the entire team involved. Pearl’s group had no problem there with five players scoring in double figures.

This Auburn team made history with 109 points being the most ever against an SEC team on the road in program history. On the record-breaking performance, Flanigan said, “Everybody who comes to Auburn, we come here to make history. We made history tonight.”

Forwards J.T. Thor and Jaylin Williams tied for the most rebounds on Saturday at seven a piece. Auburn’s big men are starting to attack the boards, which is something the Tigers have been missing even from their great teams in recent years. Williams added 18 points to his stat line, which was second on the team.

Williams has been a key player in the Tiger’s offense this season so far, but he seemed to start growing towards a more pivotal role this week. That could pay off for Auburn in the long run, considering he is very athletic with a big frame and a confident perimeter shot.

If Pearl can get Williams more comfortable on offense and give him a larger role, the Tigers will have multiple star players to lean on in crucial situations, which is great for a young team.

The Auburn Tigers improve to 3-5 in conference play. They will have a quick turnaround this week, hosting the 19th-ranked Missouri Tigers on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. CT on ESPN 2. If Auburn wants to climb up the SEC ladder, what better opportunity is there than a team in the top five of the conference?

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.