Lt. Col (Ret.) Stephen Bergey, lead instructor for Etowah High School’s Career Pathway in Air Force JROTC - Government and Public Administration, speaks with a student in class. The course prepares students for many possible careers ranging from military leadership to aerospace engineer to diplomat.
This week’s CCSD Pathway Profile focuses on Air Force JROTC - Government and Public Administration, which is offered at Cherokee HS, Etowah HS, River Ridge HS and Sequoyah HS, with other JROTC Pathways also offered at Creekview HS (Army) and Woodstock HS (Navy). The Cherokee County School District offers 38 Career Pathway high school programs, which provide students with a wide selection of job exploration and preparation electives. Through CCSD Pathway Profiles, we regularly share highlights with you from one of these programs.
As a former Air Force officer, diplomat and private sector and nonprofit executive, Lt. Col (Ret.) Stephen Bergey knows firsthand the careers that Etowah High School’s Career Pathway in Air Force JROTC - Government and Public Administration prepares students for.
He began teaching at Etowah four years ago and with fellow instructor, TSgt. Ciarra Malto, they’ve grown it to a nationally recognized program.
Last school year, the program’s JROTC unit earned an overall unit assessment score of Exceeds Standards, the highest rating available. Only one time prior in its 27-year history has Etowah’s JROTC earned this elite score, which ranks the program in the top 12% worldwide. Lt. Col. Bergey was named the 2022 Overall AFJROTC Instructor of the Year – ranking him as the best out of more than 1,900 AFJROTC instructors worldwide.
Although aligned with the Air Force Junior ROTC program, Lt. Col. Bergey said the Pathway courses prepare students for many careers beyond military service. [Click here to see more photos from his classes.]
“Career classes develop off-the-shelf employability skills that can be utilized immediately upon high school graduation or fast track skills needed in conjunction with a college education. Since I arrived to Etowah four years ago, most of my students are now in college pursuing degrees in nursing, international business and foreign affairs,” he said. “I'm also excited for those who are choosing careers in aviation and pursuing their passions to reach for the sky.”
Junior Davis Clanton plans on pursuing a military career after attending Georgia Tech as a member of its Air Force ROTC.
“While this class hasn't been the reason I determined this, it has certainly helped me develop the skills I expect to learn while in the program at Georgia Tech,” he said. “While this program is not a military recruiting platform, it has helped me greatly in developing my leadership skills as well as my character.”
Within the Pathway, classes offered include: aerospace science: aviation history, science of flight, space exploration, global and cultural studies. Students can earn leadership and employability skills certification through NOCTI (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute). Students also can participate in JROTC state and national leadership and skills programs.
This Pathway prepares students for careers including, but not limited to: military leadership, aerospace engineer, aerospace engineering and operations technician, airfield operations specialist, airline pilot/copilot/flight engineer, government and public administration, national security, diplomat and other foreign service, entrepreneur.
The average income range for careers in this Pathway in Georgia is $55,000 to $136,000. Local and area employers for this Pathway include, but are not limited to: U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Anduril Industries, Hermeus, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, Delta Airlines and other carriers, all levels of government (local, state, federal)