Decatur Career Academy Overview

  • Decatur Career Academy

    The mission of the Decatur Career Academy (DCA) is to deliver authentic, technical education and training experiences that produce responsible and productive citizens of the world.

    The Decatur Career Academy (DCA) offers pathways related to in-demand career fields. The training will prepare students for college and/or entry-level employment in a competitive market. Each classroom focuses on hands-on tasks and student-centered learning. The DCA provides students the training to excel in the workforce. An emphasis is placed on employability (soft) skills to prepare students to participate in work-based learning as a senior in high school.



Degrees and Certifications:

Terra Smiley

Ms. Smiley began her educational career in 2001, teaching computer applications, entrepreneurship, and CISCO Networking Systems courses at Cobb County’s Osborne High School. Later moving to DeKalb County, Ms. Smiley served in various roles, including a Business Education teacher, CTAE department chair, Smaller Learning Communities Site Coordinator, and new teacher mentor.  She is most proud of her work with students as the lead advisor of the school’s Future Business Leaders of America career-tech student organization.  During this time, Ms. Smiley began her intentional work within the community, building a network of industry partners who dedicated their time, expertise, and resources to ensure that her students from south DeKalb County were prepared and positioned to succeed well beyond the classroom. Since 2015, Ms. Smiley has served the Decatur High School community as the Work Based Learning and Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator, facilitating students' appropriate placement in high-quality internships aligned with their desired career paths.  She finds joy in identifying opportunities for students to explore, experience, and EARN course credit, career credentials, and cash!!! She graduated from Savannah State University with a degree in Business Management, later earning a Master’s Degree in Instruction from Central Michigan University and her Educational Specialist Degree (EdS) from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN.  

  • Georgia Career Academy Project 

    The Georgia Career Academy Project began with the goal of providing students the opportunity to enroll in programs that provide students the opportunity to become college and career ready. The partnerships that create career academies include high schools, technical colleges, and universities. The business and industry communities are a critical link in connecting with education leaders to bring programs to students that will provide students the opportunities to achieve career goals in fields that are relevant to the community in which they are offered.

    What is a career academy?
    According to the National Career Academy Coalition, academies offer a college preparatory curriculum with a career theme, enabling students to see relationships among academic subjects and their application to a broad field of work. They also foster partnerships with employers, community leaders, and local colleges and bring in resources from outside the high school to improve student motivation and achievement.

    Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the driving force behind the Georgia Career Academy Project, wrote, "Meaningful reform will happen when our state gives students a system in which they find value and the chance to follow educational paths that excite and challenge them." The state's career academies are partnered with and funded through the Technical College System of Georgia. DCA is affiliated with DeKalb Technical College.

    Unlike other district's career academies that serve multiple schools and require students to travel from their home schools, DCA allows students to remain on Decatur High School's campus to receive training in state-of-the-art labs. Students may earn college credit and participate in job shadowing and internships. DCA students also participate in national organizations that offer competitions, travel, and scholarships.

DHS Career Clusters
  • A career academy includes the following essential elements:

    • A small learning community
    • A college-prep curriculum with a career theme
    • Partnerships with employers, the community, and higher education