Carter Academy Coach Has A Business Background

Carter Academy Coach Has A Business Background

When Kacy Helton left the banking industry to become a business teacher at Fulton High School, the Falcons were already committed to career-oriented small learning communities.

So when Helton got an opportunity to help launch the 865 Academies at Carter High School, she jumped at the chance.

“Academies give so many opportunities for kids to do some really cool things,” Helton said. “I can literally go to Fulton kids that I’ve taught over the past four years and say ‘What are you doing now, what are the skills that you learned in high school that impacted you?’, and they can tell me.”

Last year, Helton returned to Carter, her alma mater, as a marketing teacher, and she now serves as the school’s Academy coach. Carter launched its Freshman Academy this year and will announce its career-oriented Academies and pathways in the coming months.

Academy coaches play a key role in the implementation of the initiative. They lead student ambassadors, coordinate campus and workplace visits, and serve as the school’s liaison to business and community partners.

For Helton, bridging the gap between classroom instruction and workplace success was a natural fit, given her journey as a self-described “non-educator educator.”

After graduating from Carter, she attended Walters State, Pellissippi State, and the University of Tennessee, eventually leaving school to get her real estate license in 2007. The financial crisis of 2008 nudged her out of real estate and into a position as a teller at Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, where she went on to become a corporate trainer.

In that role, she also worked with schools and students, including a project to help Carter set up a school store. She also resumed her college coursework, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in Talent Development, before shifting gears to become a teacher and earning a master’s in education. 

Helton said she’s a firm believer in allowing students to get career and college experiences at an early age and said the Carter community has been excited and supportive about the Academies initiative. As the Hornets launch that journey, Helton has been busy with the transition from planning to implementation – shaping academy proposals, building student ambassador teams, advocating for CTE teachers, and more.

But in the midst of project management, her inspiration comes from opening doors for students: “I’m excited about giving these kids opportunities, that is my go-to … And I see so many potential experiences and opportunities coming out of Academies. My daughter is a freshman this year and I’m really excited that she’s at the beginning of this process.”

Want to support the work of the 865 Academies as a business or community partner? Visit to learn more!


Carter Students Embrace New Dual-Credit Option

Carter Students Embrace New Dual-Credit Option

Six students in Heather Wade’s Nutrition class at Carter High School earned college credit through an offering from Middle Tennessee State University. Pictured left to right are Riley Duval, Heather Wade and Owen Keener (top row), Izabella Hill, Ava Morell, Josie Shipley and Braygen Jones (bottom row).

Riley Duval is planning to study nursing at Middle Tennessee State University after graduating from high school this spring. But when she arrives on campus in Murfreesboro, the Carter High School senior will already have credits in hand.

Duval is one of six Carter High students who recently passed a new dual credit course called “Nutrition Across the Lifespan.” The course was taught by Carter teacher Heather Wade, and focuses on topics including food safety, macro and micro nutrients, digestion, healthy cooking, and the role of nutrition in health.

In addition, it is closely aligned with MTSU’s Principles of Nutrition class. By passing a comprehensive dual credit exam, Duval and her classmates earned three hours of college credit.

Duval is hoping to become a pediatric ICU nurse, and said she enjoys the thought of helping families when their children are sick. And the ability to get a jump start on college before graduating from Carter? “It feels good,” she said.

Across the district, KCS high schools offer a variety of dual credit courses, as well as dual enrollment courses that are taught by college faculty on college campuses. These courses and other Early Postsecondary Opportunities, or EPSOs, provide an important option for students to gain exposure to college-level work and to earn credits at a significantly reduced price while in high school.

Wade, who is finishing her 13th year as a teacher at Carter, said in this case, MTSU provided detailed study materials to prepare for the dual credit exam, and that even if students don’t attend MTSU their credits may be transferable to another institution.

Wade said she is extremely proud of her students for leading the way on a new course, and pointed out that the dual credit opportunity is available for students as early as their sophomore year.

“That’s a really cool opportunity that might be life-changing for some of these kids,” she added. “Especially some kids who may be first-generation college students.”