Muscle Shoals City Schools Recognized for Creative Problem-Solving with Pathfinder Program

By  | January 3, 2018 | Filed under: News

HUNTSVILLE–The Muscle Shoals Career Academy was recognized by LEAN Frog and the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) as an Alabama finalist in the Tri-State Best K-12 Practices Contest. Muscle Shoals City Schools (MSCS) superintendent Dr. Brian Lindsey and board president Dr. Celia Rudolph accepted the $1,000 cash prize for their school system’s entry at the 2017 AASB Annual Convention.  As a finalist, MSCS will compete for the $4,000 grand prize with Alabama co-finalist Eufaula City Schools and co-finalists from Tennessee and Louisiana.

“Muscle Shoals Career Academy and their Pathfinder Program is an example of creative problem-solving involving collaboration with students, community partners, area businesses, and staff,” said Dr. Sherri Headrick, LEAN Frog Director of Marketing and Personnel. “This is a best practice tailor-made for Alabama’s growing manufacturing/industrial economic base.  The MSCS staff, superintendent, and school board have shown real commitment to students with this program.”

The Muscle Shoals City Schools Career Academy piloted the Pathfinder Program to alleviate a problem—students in work-based learning programs were not afforded the opportunities in skilled, technical environments due to employer restrictions based on the insuring of minors.  The Pathfinder Program was designed to give businesses the means to utilize trained and certified high school students in technical and skilled jobs.  Muscle Shoals Career Academy partnered with Lyons HR to administer payroll, remit taxes, provide workers compensation and general liability insurance for working students to allow them to work while they were still in school.  Students can gain meaningful experiences in careers they plan to pursue after high school while earning a paycheck and school credit. Some of the Muscle Shoals community businesses supporting the program include Navistar, ECM Hospital, Helen Keller Hospital, Tasus, and original program participant North American Lighting.  The program has generated nearly $1 million of economic impact.

Dr. Brian Lindsey

“We are honored that our Pathfinder Program at the Muscle Shoals Career Academy has been chosen as an Alabama finalist for the “Tri-State Best K-12 Practices” Contest sponsored by LEAN Frog,” said Dr. Lindsey.  “Because the program provides students with opportunities for work experience and prepares them for life after graduation, it can greatly affect students’ lives. Your recognition of the Pathfinder Program’s success will foster its growth and help fund its future.”


At the time of the Pathfinder Program’s inception, there was no other program like it in the United States. Now, other school systems are touring MSCS facilities to discuss how they can implement a similar program to benefit their students.

As Pathfinder Coordinator Tiffany Stonecipher remarked, “While it is truly an honor to represent the Pathfinder Program, our students are the forefront of all success from this award with the biggest benefit being to our economy. I encourage each business that hears of this program to consider giving a young person the chance to be successful. More than anything, I want our young people to see a successful future in their hometown.”



Media Release/Sherri Headrick, PhD/Director of Marketing and Personnel/Co-Founder/Learn Frog




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