PEARL - Helping career and technical education students find pathways to success has been a dream job for teacher Lacie Flake, who works at the Philadelphia-Neshoba County Career Technical Center. In recognition of her service, Flake is being presented the President’s Hard Hat Outstanding Student Services Coordinator of the Year award from the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation.

“I’m very humbled and honored to be recognized as someone who’s making a difference,” Flake said. “The career tech industry is booming, not only here but all over the country. Industries are needing skilled workers who also know how to be good employees. That’s what we strive to teach here.”

MCEF’s statewide award recognizes CTE professionals for helping students achieve success in academics and career development. As student services coordinator, Flake provides instructional, career, collaborative and supportive assistance to CTE students in grades 9-12.

“Lacie’s enthusiasm about career tech is evident in her commitment to students,” said Brent Bean, MCEF president. “She understands that when students find a career path they love, their odds of success after graduation increase exponentially. Lacie is invested in helping students find the right match and finish high school with a clear direction for the future.”

Flake had been teaching high school English when she joined the PNCCTC faculty in 2016 as an instructor in the Teacher Academy. PNCCTC is a division of East Central Community College and serves secondary students enrolled in Philadelphia and Neshoba County school districts.

“I was pleasantly surprised when I came over from the academic world to the career tech world,” she said. “Our students want to be here. It’s completely optional, and you can see a big difference in kids who are doing something they choose to do and that interests them. We have students who take multiple programs because they want to be here.”

In addition to the Teacher Academy, career areas at PNCCTC include automotive services, construction technology, welding, health sciences, law and public safety, and early childhood. The center also offers work-based learning programs that connect students with internships and job-shadowing opportunities with local employers.

“Everyone in our community has been very open to giving students a chance to learn more about local businesses and the career opportunities available here,” she said. “They want to help train the next generation of employees who will become our future workforce.”

Flake emphasized that CTE students graduate from high school with more than a diploma. They also benefit from earning career-specific certifications through the National Center for Construction Education and Research, which helps increase their earning potential and demonstrate to employers that they have industry-relevant skills.

“Leaving high school with a certification gives students a big advantage in the job market,” Flake said. “Many students are entering the workforce after graduation earning great salaries, benefits and retirement. Their skills are in need, and our programs have prepared them to transition successfully into the professional world.”

A native of Philadelphia and a graduate of Neshoba Central High School, Flake has gained deeper insights into the generational benefits of CTE in the community through her job as student services coordinator at PNCCTC.

“We have an amazing number of students who say that their moms or dads took programs at the tech center when they were in high school,” Flake said. “These parents are not forgetting their experience here, even many years down the road. And now, they’re encouraging their children to come here. That’s a wonderful endorsement for career tech.”

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more about MCEF at