W. D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center

Holly Boffy and Jan Swift at W. D. and Mary Baker Smith Career Center

The W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center, an extension of the high schools in the Lafayette Parish School System, offers students career and technical education in automotive, cosmetology, culinary, medical, industrial technology, and welding programs. Principal Holly Boffy joined Discover Lafayette to share the school’s mission and new programming being offered in the upcoming 2022-23 school year.

Students must be enrolled in the Lafayette Parish School System to participate and they attend the Career Center for three hours per day taking technical and career classes. No one graduates from the Career Center, they only attend part of their school day and graduate from their home base school. There is no tuition for the programs, but some minor fees may be involved depending upon the curriculum. Public school buses transport the students to and from their home base school.

Program fields include Auto tech, Auto paint and body, Remote Vehicle Tech, Cosmetology, Culinary, Digital Media, Manufacturing Tech (Computer-aided design and Metal Cutting) Medical (nursing and medical assistant, EMT), Robotics and Welding.

The Career Center is implementing an HVAC program in the Fall of 2022 along with electrical programs. There is still space for students in the new programs, as well as in machinery and the paint and body program; families are encouraged to visit https://www.lpssonline.com/schools/careercenter for more information. In a typical year, the application process opens up in January.

The training received while in high school enables students to enter the workforce full-time upon graduation or continue on to community college, a four-year university, or apprenticeship programs. The Career Center partners with South Louisiana Community College and students can earn dual enrollment credits with the tuition being covered by LPSS.

These early career experiences are invaluable as students learn whether or not their career choice is the correct fit for their interests while they are still young. “It empowers the students,” says Principal Boffy. She cited one example of a teacher who had originally earned credentials as a Certified Nursing Assistant. While that career path turned out not to be for her, she was able to work as a CNA while putting herself through a traditional four-year college, using her trade and not incurring debt.

“It’s important to mentor your children, to have conversations about what makes them happy. What gifts do they have that they can use to contribute to others in their career? I believe the Career Center is one of the best-kept secrets in Lafayette Parish,” says Principal Holly Boffy.

Students have to have decent grades to enroll in the Career Center as they must also earn their other core credits such as History, English, etc. to graduate.

The Career Center is committed to the region’s 55 by 25 Initiative, with a goal of increasing the proportion of working-age adults in Acadiana with postsecondary degrees, certificates, or other high-value credentials to 55 percent by 2025.

One program that reaches out to serve the community is the Culinary program which utilizes the Culinary Cafe on-site at the Career Center. With adequate space to hold luncheons or banquets, the space is open for rentals to the public. You provide your budget to the students who will then prepare a meal from scratch and serve your guests at the tables provided.

Shown are students at the Culinary Cafe at W. D. and Mary Baker Smith Career Center. To be certified, students must complete 400 hours working the industry and pass 3 different tests to earn the Pro-Start National Certificate of Achievement, an industry-recognized certificate that signifies a strong foundation in the basic management and culinary skills considered critical to success by restaurant industry leaders.

We thank Principal Holly Boffy for her commitment to seeing all students receive the highest and best form of education suited to their interests. For more information on the Career Center, visit https://www.lpssonline.com/schools/careercenter.