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By SARAH BEACH
The Carroll County Area Technology Center’s new principal, Tony Jury, knows the importance of hard work and real-life experience for career-readiness.
Raised on a dairy and tobacco farm in Nelson County, Jury worked throughout his college career to fund his education.
“That taught me a lot about working hard and responsibility,” Jury said.
Jury earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and masters degree in vocational education from the University of Kentucky.
Though he had some scholarships, he farmed tobacco, managed a beef herd, worked as a mechanic, helped build barns and houses and other “odd jobs” to pay for his education.
Jury worked as an agricultural education teacher at Gallatin County High School for nine years, where he also served as Future Farmers of America advisor. He also coached football and drove a school bus.
He has spent the last five years as the assistant principal and instructional coach at Gallatin County High School.
When the position of principal at the Area Technology Center (ATC) in Carroll County came open, Jury missed teaching agriculture and student skills, so he jumped at the chance to do that again, he said.
As an FFA adviser he focused on academic skills and what he calls “soft skills.” These include talking to people, building relationships at work, dealing with conflicts, building a support network and more. Jury believesthese skills are important for students and will try to emphasize them at the ATC.
“It seems like we’re not getting those across to students as much these days, and they go out into the work force absent of those skills,” he said. “I saw being a principal of Carroll County Technology Center as a way to bring the two worlds together.”
Jury also will focus on promoting the ATC to the four counties served by the program – Carroll, Owen, Trimble and Gallatin – because parents and students often are unaware of the benefits of the center.
“The big plan is just to promote our programs to the communities because we have a lot to offer to children in our community, and I’m not sure that parents really realize that,” he said.
Jury said that many students leave the ATC with anywhere from 12 to 24 hours of dual credit, which they can take and get their associates degree quickly from another institution or be simply better prepared to begin a career right away.
“I prefer for kids to explore and find what they like, and if it’s one of the areas we offer in our Area Technology Center, they can have a degree, an associate’s degree, within a year of graduating our ATC,” he said. “My ultimate goal is that they’ll have an associate’s degree before they come out of there. We’re working with JCTC on that.”
There are 53 Area Technology Centers in the state of Kentucky. Though they all used to be separate from the Kentucky Department of Education, this year they have all come under KDE’s jurisdiction.
“I am extremely excited to be in a place where we just focus on college and career readiness for students and there’s not many distractions,” Jury said. He hopes the curriculum at the ATC will aid local industries in finding quality employees who have the skills necessary for the workforce.
He and his wife, Kristy, live with their 4-year-old son, Jeremiah, in Owen County. They attend Dallasburg Baptist Church in Wheatley, Ky.
“I’m really excited to start new relationships, especially with the Carroll County folks, since they’re right next door,” he said. “I’ve already started working closely with the high school and middle school principals, so I already have good relationships with those guys from working with them in Gallatin County.”
Jury said that he will be trying to find alumni of the ATC to come and show support for the school and encourage students to attend, as well as reaching out to citizens in surrounding areas.
“We’re teaching a highly technical career here, and it’s for anybody,” he said.