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Program helps Blount Co. seniors turn to investigative careers

Some Heritage High School students in Blount County are learning finger print dusting, crime scene remodels and mock trials firsthand.
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 6:25 PM EST
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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Some Heritage High School students in Blount County are learning finger print dusting, crime scene remodels and mock trials firsthand. The goal is to apply the knowledge to the real world after graduation.

“I love being in the classroom, I love teaching, especially seeing the kids like get excited about the things I get excited about,” said Greg Lemmons.

Teaching wasn’t Lemmons’ first choice in career. He started out as a probation officer then Roane State Community College asked if he could teach a couple of classes.

Lemmons said, “Sure I’ll try that for some extra money then I got to the classroom, I loved it.”

Now he’s in his tenth year of teaching criminal justice at Heritage and William Blount High Schools.

“That’s part of the beauty of CTE right? Is that we get to bring that real-world experience into the classroom,” explained Lemmons.

It’s part of the Career Technical Education program with Blount County Schools. He focuses on three main components--policing, courts and corrections.

“We have to be very diverse in what we’re teaching,” said Lemmons noting students can develop various career paths from his classes.

Dusting fingerprints is where it all began for Noah Payne, who is 19.

“From the beginning, I had no interest in the law enforcement field whatsoever,” said Payne.

He took Lemmons’ classes sophomore, junior and senior years. By junior year he realized he wanted to go down a different route, one that fast-tracked him to a job after graduation.

“I had originally wanted to become a nurse so this is what I wanted and I went in head first,” said Payne.

After graduating in May 2020 he became a Blount County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Officer.

“It’s so rewarding knowing that all the hard work I put in here and everything that I’ve learned I’ve turned it around and turned it into a career,” said Payne.

The CTE program has changed the minds and lives for students.

“To see them excel when it starts out just in our intro class in their junior year and then see them five years later, you know, working a patrol car, working crime scenes it’s pretty rewarding,” explained Lemmons.

Noah doesn’t want a job. He wants a career and plans to stay a long time with the sheriff’s office.

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