Updated: Oct 28, 2022
By Sharon Miner | Published The Upbeat Reporter Fall 2022
Public education is at the forefront of our society and many times it is shown in a negative light. The complexity of education and the overwhelming job of educating students from different races, ethnicities and religious backgrounds can be a daunting task for educators. Christians are familiar with and apply Jeremiah 29: 11 to their personal situations: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” But have you ever stopped to consider God has a future and a hope for public education and it is not one of disaster? Have you ever contemplated that God uses His people to bring about astonishing wonders in public education?
Jay Barrett, Principal at AmTech Career Academy absolutely believes God has a vision for public education, and he embodies the hope and desire to see that vision come to light as students are guided to discover their individual paths to success. “It is truly an amazing work that God has blessed me to be a part of and share with others His vision for what is happening at AmTech Career Academy. I pray every day for wisdom, guidance, discernment, and strength to do what God has commissioned me to do. He has raised up a group of dedicated people to come alongside His vision for the Academy to create this amazing learning space for young professionals at Amarillo Independent School District,” said Jay. “For 2 years the leadership at AISD met every Thursday to bring AmTech Career Academy to fruition, and we knew we were doing something special for the young people in AISD.” From an early age, Jay has always tried to follow the path that God has set before him. Mentored in college by his future father-inlaw Gene Parker, Jay was led to consider a path he may not have chosen for himself, one that eventually opened the doors to public school administration. As the principal at AmTech Career Academy, Jay recognizes he is not perfect, but fully aware he is being perfected by the Spirit of God, and he approaches each day with enthusiasm, passion and humility for his staff and students. All through his life Jay has allowed God to direct his steps as he continues to walk with an excitement and gratefulness to be a part of His vision for public education. Being a Christian is not something he puts on as outerwear; it is his identity, wrapped up in who Christ has made him to be, and it is evident in how he lives his life. Describing the unique Academy and all its attributes with humility and passion, Jay spoke of the team that made the Academy a reality. “The visionary leadership of Superintendent Doug Loomis, the AISD Board of Directors, and many others made the Academy happen,” he remarked.
AmTech Career Academy is home to nine different schools under 235,000 square feet of contiguous stimulating creative learning space. 1,850 students attended in the inaugural school year 2021-2022, and over 2,600 are registered for the 2022-2023 school year. There are over 35 unique pathways for students to choose from within the School of Animal Science; School of Architecture, Manufacturing and Construction; School of Business, Marketing and Finance; School of Culinary Arts; School of Law and Public Service; School of Media Arts; School of Medical Arts; School of Stem and Information Technology; and School of Transportation. The leadership at the Academy does not believe there is only one pathway for students to journey. They do not see education as a box that all students fit neatly in, and with no preconception of what education is, AmTech moves forward, unconfined to the norms and opening a world of possibilities for its y. “We give our students a chance to see something else in themselves that nobody else sees. What we want for our young professionals is what they want for themselves, and we help them shape that path,” commented Jay. Students who attend the Academy appreciate that they are treated as young professionals by the staff, and they reciprocate the respect. The atmosphere is not guided by the sound of a bell every 50 minutes reminding students it is time to relocate. They are moved by an inner maturity that is transferred to the students by the leadership team, because of the trust and faith they have in every student’s ability to do what they know to do. Accountability and responsibility are just a part of the culture at AmTech Career Academy. The word retirement tried to take up residence in Jay’s mind before he was given the opportunity to head up the team to guide AmTech Career Academy to the nation’s premier high school career academy. Knowing in his heart God was calling him to continue on, Jay asked the Lord for a verse to stand on, and God evicted the thoughts of retirement and moved in Psalms 127: 1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the worker labor in vain; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Every day Jay lays his role as principal of AmTech Career Academy at the feet of Jesus, and he and his team have not labored in vain. The book “Chase the Lion” by Mark Batterson, is a favorite of Jay’s and it begins with The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto: Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Run to the roar. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-given passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Stop pointing out problems. Become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past. Start creating the future. Face your fears. Fight for your dreams. Grab opportunity by the mane and don’t let go! Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Live for the applause of nail-scarred hands. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Dare to fail. Dare to be different. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. -- Chase the lion. Thank you, Jay, and the team, at AmTech Career Academy for believing and trusting in God’s vision for public education and for not being afraid to chase the lion.