Seniors make history, earn skid steer certification

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

During the month of October, recognized nationwide as Careers in Construction Month, 27 Crenshaw County high school seniors made waves in the world of vocational training while also making history within the school system. 

Collaboration between the Crenshaw County School system and Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (LBW), afforded students an opportunity to earn Alabama Community College System (ACCS) credentials for skid steer driving, a certification never before offered to Crenshaw County students.

Brantley High School senior Tyson Grant expressed his excitement about the doors this certification can open for him. 

“I wanted to participate because I wanted to build my resume further and felt that it would be a good idea to go along with my welding certification,” Grant said. “It also brings a lot of job opportunities along with it. The opportunities this creates, and the extra skills I’ve gained will help me as I enter the workforce.”

Haley Beasley Kilcrease, the College and Career coach at Crenshaw County Schools, expressed her gratitude for the partnership between the school system and LBW’s Workforce Development & Continuing Education program. Kilcrease emphasized the program’s significance for Crenshaw County students.

“We were able to offer the Skid Steer Skills for Success curriculum to all interested seniors,and at no cost,” Kilcrease said. “The perfect way to build a resume is to have hands-on experience and this program provides just that. This class also created opportunity and confidence for these students, and I am so proud of them for earning this certification right here in Crenshaw County. I appreciate the efforts of Chat Sutton and Destiny Smith with LBW and the partnership Crenshaw County Schools has with LBW Workforce Development & Continuing Education.” 

Superintendent of Crenshaw County Schools Dodd Hawthorne praised the dedication effort put into coordinating this invaluable experience for the students.

“We would like to thank LBWCC President Dr. Brock Kelly and Chad Sutton, Director of Workforce Development for providing opportunities such as this for the students of Crenshaw County Schools,” Hawthorne said. “I want to thank  Haley Kilcrease, Crenshaw County Schools College and Career Coach, for her hard-work in planning and organizing this. Our hope is to continue to provide students with more experiences such as skid steer training that will help provide more opportunities for our students when they graduate from Crenshaw County Schools.”

The skid steer training program is part of ACCS’s “Skills for Success,” a rapid workforce training initiative that was developed in partnership with the state’s businesses and industries to align training with the skills required by employers for available jobs. Launched in early 2022, this initiative aims to bridge the skills gap and prepare students for the workforce.

Chad Sutton, Director of Workforce Development at LBW Community College, thinks that kinds of programs are far reaching and are good for our communities and state. 

“I believe that this opportunity will not only develop skills in young people that will lead into fulfilling careers, but this training introduces students to the wold of Construction,” Sutton said. “Too often adults don’t communicate how big the industry is, we think in our Silos’s and not out of the box. A training like this allows students to not only operate a skid steer proficiently but it may spark some amazing thoughts in their brain!  Entrepreneurship, operating other pieces of equipment, heavy equipment industry, construction, manufacturing, diesel mechanics, agriculture, road construction, etc. the opportunities are endless.  As adults it is our job to create opportunities that lead to awareness and let our students’ minds begin to work!  This is so much bigger than just learning to operate a skid steer safely and I want to thank Mrs. Kilcrease for always putting the student’s interest and development first and for putting this together. Working with her is a joy.”

Joe Barton, an LBW instructor, led three rounds of classes for Crenshaw County seniors. The City of Luverne showed their support for the program by providing a load of dirt for the students to practice with, further enhancing their hands-on experience. 

The training involved two days of classroom instruction, followed by two days of hands-on driving practice, culminating in a comprehensive test required to obtain the skid steer certification. 

The students completing the program were Cooper Ingram, Austin Herring and Andrew Herring from Highland Home School; Sawyer Flynn, Jacob Crum, Jordan Johnson, JaMarcus Davison, Turner Claybrook, Josh Bearden, Sean Coggins, Austin Givens, Nate Harper, Tristan Morrow, Dante Smith, Joseph Stokes and ZaEric Tillis from Luverne School; and Kendrick Welch, Jace Levens, Tyson Grant, Levi Tillery, Hunter Hughes, Leslyie Alonzo, Thomas Williamson, Romeo Pressley and Shane Gay from Brantley High School. 

Crenshaw County Schools are looking to expand their offerings in the future, Kilcrease said, with plans to introduce Fiber Optics training in the spring, along with other vocational programs including highly sought-after heavy equipment training courses. 

The skid steer certification is available free of charge to both students and adults along with other training programs across a range of industries, including construction, fiber optics, trucking, and food and beverage services. To discover more information and view available training courses, visit