MARYVILLE (WATE) – Walmart celebrated the grand opening of its first training academy in East Tennessee by holding a graduation ceremony at its Maryville location on Thursday.
Classmates cheered for their co-workers and family members captured the moment as company executives thanks the team for their hard work in the program. Sixty-two graduates passed 3,000 questions and rigorous classwork to complete the academy.
“We really appreciate your focus your effort,” said Kate Mora, the regional general manager for Walmart in East Tennessee.
From entry-level to regional manager, Walmart has created a program called Pathways for Associates. It trains employees at all levels of store operations over the course of two weeks. The program teaches associates about retail fundamentals, core skills and training on the sales floor.
Diane Atchley has worked at Walmart for 19 years and has always maintained excitement for her job.
“Walmart has always been whatever I wanted it to be. If I needed to be home more, I could do that. If I needed to make more money, I was able to do that as well. So 19 years of just working with the greatest people,” said Atchley.
For Atchley, her job has meant much more than just about getting the customer out the door.
Atchley adds, “I understand what little things mean. I understand that a shopping list is not just a shopping list. And sometimes people just need a smile. They just need to be picked up.”
Walmart officials say the academy will invest in the futures of it’s employees, like Atchley.
“We know right now that 75 percent of our managers began their careers as hourly associates, so there’s a lot of upward mobility and opportunity,” said Mora.
The Maryville training facility is the 120th academy to open up in the country. Approximately 90 associates will train at the East Tennessee location every week. The Maryville academy will train Walmart employees from 24 stores in nearby communities.