Cherokee College & Career Academy teacher Ashley Grande listens as senior Ethan Pierce, a student in her cybersecurity Career Pathway program, speaks to his classmates including senior Connor Bunyard.
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’ll regularly share highlights with you from one of these programs. This week’s profile focuses on Cybersecurity, which is offered at the Cherokee College & Career Academy that is open to all CCSD high school students …
The Cherokee County School District is preparing high school students for careers in the growing field of cybersecurity through a new Career Pathway program.
Offered at the Cherokee College & Career Academy (C3) campus in Canton, the program is open to all CCSD high school students. They can attend academic classes at their home high school and travel, by school bus or their own vehicle, to C3 for cybersecurity classes. Ashley Grande, who is in her third year teaching, leads the program.
“I think career classes are great because they give students with an interest the opportunity to learn about the field while earning high school credit and, in many cases, students earn valuable certifications that will help them break into the field after high school,” she said. “I don't think all students need college, especially if they know what they want, are good at it and they earn those credentials upon graduating high school. This head start makes them competitive early if that is what they want. Should they choose the college path, having the foundation will set them up for success there, too!”
One of her favorite lessons is the end-of-year challenge for advanced cybersecurity students. They conduct a physical and digital security audit using real-world tools. [Click here to see more photos from her classes.]
“They will complete an analysis of their findings and report to a C-level executive in charge of security matters,” she said. “This is a truly authentic and professional experience that mirrors what they can expect to see on the job. I think they will be empowered by finding real flaws in real systems, too.”
Senior Sophia Melbourne’s home school is Cherokee High School, but her interest in cybersecurity led her to enroll in the program at C3.
“My love for computer science directed me toward this course, which I hope to implement into my academics and career after graduation,” she said, noting she plans to attend college to major in computer science and either double major or minor in biomedical engineering. “Cybersecurity is extremely relevant in these fields as we increasingly rely on computers to store and implement our sensitive information. Technology is expanding into several aspects of our everyday lives, including physical health. I believe that if we want to move forward with technology, we have to do it safely. Coming out of this class, hopefully with a certification, I hope to apply my knowledge to the advancement of computers and medical technology.”
Within the Pathway, classes offered include: introduction to hardware technology, introduction to cybersecurity and advanced cybersecurity. Students can earn CompTIA Security Plus industry certification. Students can compete in SkillsUSA and FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) state and national career skills contests.
This Pathway prepares students for careers including, but not limited to: computer and information systems manager, computer network architect, computer systems analyst, computer and information research scientist, computer systems engineer/architect, computer hardware engineer, network and computer systems administrator, IT risk intelligence analyst.
The average income range for careers in this Pathway in Georgia is $72,000 to $150,000. Local and area employers for this Pathway include, but are not limited to: government offices (local, state federal), school systems and universities, hospitals, Equifax, Morgan Stanley, Synovus, Lockheed Martin Corp., U.S. Bank National Association, Verizon, Siemens, Mohawk Industries, Computer Services Incorporated, SolTech Inc., Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Synchrony, Delta Dental Ins.