National Association of Schools President visits James Clemens for innovative ideas


A special visitor took a close look this week at the special opportunities available to high school students in Madison.

James Clemens High is the only school in Alabama to receive such a visit from the president of the National Association of High School Principals.

Gregg Wieczorek is on tour across the country. He goes to at least one school in every state looking for innovative ideas to share with principals across the country. James Clemens principal Brian Clayton said the faculty and staff at JCHS really wanted to highlight the ways they put students in the right environments for hands-on learning.

“I think it’s the best thing we are doing,” Clayton said.

The high school offers several career-focused courses to make sure students have a feel for what they want to do by the time of graduation.

“Children have the opportunity to see what careers are like in these particular fields of study,” Clayton said, “rather than wait until they are in college and spend a lot of money to see what that resembles.”

On Tuesday, the director gave Wieczorek an overview of some of these programs. The visit included an engineering class, a student-run bank, and even a health lab, where students learn how to treat patients described by other students.

The programs ultimately lead to internships in which students gain actual experience in the path of their chosen career. Clayton said that even if it doesn’t work and the student doesn’t practice this profession, the programs still benefit them in one way or another.

“It’s usually reserved for tech schools and colleges. They have this opportunity here,” Wieczorek said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in a school before.”

Wieczorek plans to take these ideas and put them in a document with other ideas from schools across the country. He said education is changing and moving from seven lessons a day to a more career-oriented system.

By sharing ideas like those of James Clemens, Wieczorek aims to show that managers don’t have to create everything themselves and instead can explore opportunities to connect and work with each other.

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