Local Dothan Businesses and Dothan City Schools Make Outstanding Partners

“We’re planting seeds here.” Local businesses, schools make outstanding partners

Drew Marchman prepares a presentation for students much like he’d prepare a menu. He flavors it with a range of options that will get his audience’s attention and appeal to a variety of tastes. DTC Welding Student

Marchman, the corporate chef for Ben E. Keith Foods, a company that provides food and beverages to the restaurant industry, and Mike Carroll, a business development manager for the company, recently spoke to students in Dothan Technology Center’s culinary arts program. Marchman and Carroll’s presentation dealt with some practical skills like the proper way to cut produce, but it also provided an informative look at the multiple career paths that exist in the food service industry.

“The job opportunities are endless – finance, IT, mechanics, warehouse work, you name it,” he said.

Carroll said, “I went to school for marine biology and now I sell groceries, and make a good living doing it. 

DTC Culinary Arts Students Demonstrations like Marchman’s and Carroll’s are part of efforts by the Dothan City Schools to forge closer bonds with local industry. The system benefits by providing students with real-life experiences and insider knowledge of career fields they may wish to explore. The businesses benefit from the opportunity to build relationships with young people who may wish to join their companies in the future.

“We’re planting seeds here,” Carroll said. “It may not always resonate now, but a few years down the line the experience may ring a bell with them.”

Dothan Technology offers a variety of career training programs, many of which are designed to match the labor needs of local industry. The Dothan City Schools system has had an enthusiastic response from a variety of local businesses. These businesses have supported the system with equipment donations, as well as facility visits and other experiences for the students. 

“Our kids are excited because they’re seeing buy-in from their local community,” Chris Duke, director of Career Technical Education & Workforce Development for the Dothan City Schools, said. “That says something to them. It says that you’re important to us.”

Melanie Hill, of Southeast Alabama Works, said building these bridges between students and local industry will help guide those students to well-paying work that will allow them to stay here, rather than having to seek a good lifestyle elsewhere. Hill said the recent reorganization of the school system enables business to more efficiently collaborate with the school system.

“Businesses are excited because we have one high school and one junior high, making it easier for them to get behind the schools,” she said.

Kay Blackwell is a student in Dothan Technology Center’s culinary arts program. Blackwell said that she learned all the basics of restaurant work from the program, and that it’s already paid off for her in her current work.

“I learned a lot of things here, so my bosses didn’t have to tell me about them when I started work,” she said. “Keeping your hair out of your face, washing your hands – commonsense stuff that you don’t want your boss to have to tell you about.”



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