Apprenticeships offer real life job experience for FHS students

Students from Cartoogechaye Elementary showed up to to pay tribute to their pre-apprenticeship interns who worked with them this semester.

Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer

Franklin High School (FHS) has partnered with ApprenticeshipNC, the Southwestern

Cassie Wilson and Emily Hill, juniors at Franklin High School, are enrolled in the Pre-Apprenticeship program.

Child Development Commission, and Dogwood Health Trust to offer a Pre-Apprenticeship program for Franklin High School students interested in pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education.

At a ceremony held at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts last Wednesday, seven students were presented with awards to Pre-Apprenticeship. Emily Hill, Cesiah Gonzales, Cassandra Wilson, Emily Self, Ashley Gibbs, Leslie Flores and Andrea Sanchez all received a reward of $500 through the Dogwood Health Trust Corporation. The students will receive another $500 in May after completing their courses. 

Students who become Pre-Apprentices have access to an array of resources including monetary incentives, coaching, technology, professional portfolio development, and tuition waivers.  Graduates of the Pre-Apprenticeship Program at FHS will have earned the North Carolina Early Childhood Credential Equivalent, making them eligible to work as a teacher’s assistant or in an Early Care and Education Program. After graduation, Pre-Apprentices transition into an Apprenticeship with benefits such as a progressive wage scale, opportunities for professional development, and a tuition waiver making their two-year degree in Early Childhood Education affordable and attainable.

Principal Coleen Strickland, Macon Virtual Academy Director of CTE, Testing and Accountability, explains how the program works. 

“The early childhood pathway consists of three courses which prepares students to work with children in early childhood education settings,” said Strickland. “Topics of study include historical, theoretical, and philosophical foundations of the profession, the structure of early childhood programs, connecting appropriate learning activities and teaching strategies to developmental needs of children, inclusive environments, communication expectations, setting limits, and guiding behavior, as well as personal growth in the field of child development. An internship makes up 50 percent of instructional time. Students complete their internships at local elementary schools in early childhood classrooms.”

Pathway is a three course sequence consisting of Child Development, Early Childhood 1 and Early Childhood 2. Registered participants can pursue their two-year degree at North Carolina Community Colleges at no cost. 

Cassie Wilson and Emily Hill are two 11th grade students at FHS, who are enrolled in the program. 

“This is an amazing opportunity to learn about children from pre-k to 4th grade,” said Cassie.  She says Heather McClure is an amazing teacher. Cassie would like to teach 4th grade some day.

“We go to South Macon and Cartoogechaye Elementary Schools twice a week to work with the children in pre-k and kindergarten,” relayed Emily.

Emily would like to teach kindergarten when she graduates from Western Carolina University, where she and Cassie both want to pursue their degrees. Emily also said that when they complete this course at FHS they will have earned three college credits in EDU119.

The students were surprised at the Smoky Mountain theater when two of the classes from Cartoogechaye Elementary with whom they work, showed up to pay tribute to them. This semester the students interned at South Macon Elementary and Cartoogechaye, and next semester they will be moving to intern at East Franklin and Iotla Elementary schools.

“To teach is all about the heart. It gives students hope and we want to see this grow,” said McClure.

“FHS is the only school in the western region with this pre-apprenticeship to apprenticeship opportunity. Southwestern Early Childhood Development supports FHS using funds from the Dogwood Trust to provide a teacher, classroom coach, transportation, materials and supplies, iPads and monetary bonuses for students completing the required coursework,” Strickland explained further.

 In order to register into the program, students must be 15 years of age before Sept. 1 of the school year. 

To find out more about the Early Childhood Academy contact:

Jennifer Fouts email:;

or Hannah Calhoun, email: