Patrick Gomez, Benchman for the KCA Mine Rescue Team, talks to high school students about his training.
The Junior Coal Academy from Muhlenberg County posed for a picture during the opening of the MERA facility at Madisonville.
Armstrong Coal Safety Director Keith Whitehouse demonstrates to high school students the functions of a breathing apparatus.
This exciting and innovative program will help broaden the training and employment opportunities for many high school students by helping to secure jobs immediately following high school graudation, or by assisting with students’ pursuits of Associate Degrees in Ming Technology.
Delving even younger than the traditional workforce age, the Kentucky Coal Academy has been making strides to educate high school students and to entice them to make a successful career out of mining. With that intent, the Kentucky Junior Coal Academy was formed to extend coal education at the secondary level and to provide career paths for secondary students. As Kentucky’s coal industry has matured, so has its workforce. It is expected that half of the state’s coal miners will reach retirement age in the next five to seven years. The Kentucky Junior Coal Academy helps to train the mining workforce of the future by preparing high school students for participation in the larger Kentucky Coal Academy.
Students enrolling in the Junior Coal Academy will experience a rigorous and challenging curriculum, which is a combination of both academic and career-technical offerings that will provide students with both the academic knowledge and the technical skills needed for work in the coal industry. The curriculum for the Kentucky Junior Coal Academy includes seven major components: high-level academic courses, advanced technical courses, computer-based training modules in mining, simulator mining equipment training, pre-engineering (for students pursuing mining engineering), agriculture (for students pursuing a wildlife/forestry tract), and a work-based learning program.
The initial Kentucky Junior Coal Academy program premiered at the Lawrence County Schools in Louisa, Kentucky in the fall semester of 2006. With the opening of classes in the fall of 2007, 12 new academies opened within the Kentucky Tech Area Technology System, primarily in the eastern coal region. This exciting and innovative partnership with KY TECH will broaden the training and employment opportunities for many high school students by helping to secure jobs immediately following high school graduation, or by assisting with students’ pursuit of a two-year degree as a pre-engineering technician or an Associate’s degree in mining through KCTCS. Four-year mining engineering or agriculture degrees are also obtainable.
There are currently two types of Junior Kentucky Coal Academies:
This academy is primarily for high schools in one of the four service areas (Big Sandy Community & Technical College, Hazard Community & Technical College, Madisonville Community College, and Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College) that are interested in providing their engineering and technology students the option to complete a career pathway to a KCTCS Associate Degree in Mining Technology or a KCTCS Associate Degree in Mining Technology with an emphasis in Mine Engineering. (This option includes the high level math and science courses required by any four-year engineering degree.)
This academy is primarily for technology centers or KCTCS campuses within the four participating KCTCS colleges (Big Sandy Community & Technical College, Hazard Community & Technical College, Madisonville Community College, and Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College) that serve high school students. Students in the qualifying Mine Support Career training programs may choose to participate in the Kentucky Junior Coal Academy program.