As the Tombigbee river meanders through west Alabama it eventually becomes the eastern border of Washington County.  In fact, this is where its waters join those of the Alabama river before heading to Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.  The county is both big and old.  With more than 1,000 square miles, it is larger than Rhode Island.  And it was created in 1800, well before Alabama became a state in 1819.

The first territorial capital of Alabama was in Washington County at St. Stephens. And like so many of our rural counties, it is shrinking and has less than 18,000 citizens.  The cotton fields that once flourished here have long given way to pine trees.

Only 2,682 students are spread among seven schools, five of them high schools.  In 1995-96 there were 3,783 students.

However, this rural slice of southwest Alabama keeps on chugging.  And as David Wofford, Career & Technical Education Director for the  school system explains, there are success stories.

“It is that time of year again for Washington County schools. The K-12 world is busy preparing for graduation ceremonies and going away parties. All the hard work of students and teachers is about to pay off, as graduates move to another phase of their lives..

Two years ago, the school system made changes to the local career and technical education programs. This year, students, teachers and businesses have reaped the benefits of those changes.

After surveying students’ interests and local needs, system officials converted the business program to health science. This change contributed to students securing certified nursing assistant internships with home health care services, and 16 seniors were pinned as CNAs. Five internships were also awarded.

Changes were also made in the system’s industrial maintenance classes. A partnership with Coastal Alabama Community College resulted in the first dual enrollment pipefitting program in the state of Alabama. Six seniors were awarded scholarships with local community colleges.

All 17 graduating students from the pipefitting program were offered positions at Ingalls Shipbuilding. Additionally, eight students have been hired on full time or as summer interns at AM/NS Calvert. Safety courses were also provided for all CTE students, courtesy of AM/NS Calvert.

Although there is much left to do, Washington County schools are on the way to improving the lives of students and providing them with viable study and career options.”

We save the world one life at a time.  Dedicated professionals such as those in Washington County make it happen.  Truth is, when you are tucked away in places like Leroy, Fruitdale, Millry, McIntosh and Chatom chances are you are both out-of-sight and out-of-mind.. However, this does not diminish your work.

And recent graduates of these tech programs are testimony to such.