AlabamaWorks inaugural Innovator Awards were presented Thursday to seven people and programs across the state who take an innovative approach to solving workforce challenges.
The recipients, with info from AlabamaWorks, are:
- Beth Brumley, Colbert County Schools. Brumley built the Health Science Program for Colbert County Schools from the ground up by using her experience in the healthcare field to provide critical, real-world skills to her students. By bridging the gap between education and employer, Brumley has created a formula for success that positively impacts the workforce.
- Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement. SAFE has been a model for supportive services to empower individuals and families while fostering positive and healthy development of the community for nearly 25 years. The SAFE program combines occupational and employability skills to help job seekers prepare to enter the workforce, regardless of barriers they may have faced in the past.
- Mike Daria, superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools. Daria has played a crucial role in the success of West Alabama’s workforce development by fostering important relationships between industry and education. His leadership has focused on increased Career Technical Education (CTE) enrollment, supporting local Worlds of Work events and the Educator Workforce Academy.
- Ed Farm. Ed Farm is the signature program of TechAlabama that focuses on encouraging children and adults to discover and pursue STEM careers. Ed Farm has a vision for a world full of invention, led by citizens who have been equipped with the necessary tools to fill or create the careers of the future. Through equipping educators and communities with innovative tools, strategies and programs they are able to support active learning for all students.
- Tiger Mochas, Auburn City Schools. Tiger Mochas is a collaborative effort between special education students; Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America members, and peer volunteers at Auburn High School. This student-led organization is serving up a lot more than hot cups of coffee to their peers because through their work, students are provided meaningful, hands-on work experience that teaches important functional, social and daily living skills. Graduates of the program leave with not only work and employability skills, but in-demand soft skills that will help them succeed in life and work.
- WeeCat Industries. WeeCat Industries in Enterprise uses a simulated workplace model to meet the growing demand for a skilled workforce. WeeCat saw an opportunity to begin teaching work ethics and employability skills as early as preschool and rose to the challenge. WeeCat’s students clock into work, run an assembly line, fill orders, check invoices, meet production quota, interview for new positions and implement quality control all while earning a “paycheck” to be spent at the WeeCat Store before they can even spell the word “school.”
- Ed Bushaw, South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce. Bushaw with the chamber researched and developed initiatives to address the region’s workforce supply to meet the needs of the growing hospitality and tourism industry in the region. His collaborative efforts with business and industry officials resulted in the development of the first Hospitality and Tourism registered apprenticeship program in Alabama.
Gov. Kay Ivey and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Ed Castile presented the awards during a virtual conference for AlabamaWorks.
“The workforce challenges that we face today are not the same ones that we faced six months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has completely reshaped the workforce landscape,” Ivey said. “The State of Alabama is relying on those who are leading the charge by implementing innovative solutions in their cities, counties and regions to further economic and workforce development.”